Category Archives: Observations on Transition

The Power of Our Responses

How do you respond in the normal course? Are you empathetic? Resourceful? Singularly-focused? Kind? I’ve been stuck on this topic for weeks, ever since I heard a piece on NPR that talked about the impact of a single person’s response.  The story offered a rare glimpse into something we do effortlessly – instinctively – everyday. We respond. Transition has taught me something very important about responding. Through its lens, I now recognize that we choose how we respond in every moment, in every situation. Taken together, our responses represent an opportunity to telegraph to the world the fullness of who we are. How do you choose to respond?

A little light for the season!

The piece that started all this was NPR’s coverage of Plague, a podcast that explores the Catholic Church’s role in the AIDS epidemic. One of the earliest episodes features a story about Karen Helfenstein, a Sister of Charity nun in New York City in the 1980s.

In an important moment, Sister Karen responded. Genuinely. Differently. Expansively.

Her simple choice changed a community and its very history.

Sister Karen served as VP of Mission for St Vincent’s Hospital, a Greenwich Village institution that cared for the sick and dying throughout the early decades of the AIDS crisis.  Early on ACT UP, an advocacy group, staged a protest in the Emergency Department (ED) of the hospital. The protesters were furious over what they believed to be the hospital’s poor treatment of those suffering and of those who loved them. The protest got a little out of hand. Somewhere along the way protestors defaced a statue of Jesus Christ by affixing condoms to it.

Law enforcement was called. The protest turned ugly.

The act of affixing condoms on Christ was a flashpoint for both sides. To the gay community, the act symbolized their outrage over the Catholic Church’s stance against the distribution of condoms even though condoms were widely recognized as an important tool in preventing the spread of AIDS.  On the other side, few could envision a more egregious act than to deface the embodiment of Christ, let alone with condoms.

Sister Karen was charged with responding to the event on behalf of the hospital.

Many around her wanted the hospital to press charges against the protestors. These voices were incensed. Indignant.

It all hung on her response.

Instead of feeding off the crowd’s fury, she responded differently. Sister Karen invited community members – who at the time were ostracized by many in society – to talk with her about what happened and, more importantly, why it happened.

She held their hands as they described their pain. She listened as they talked about their fear and disbelief tied to a demon that was ravaging their community. Patients and their lovers drew parallels for Sister Karen between these feelings and how it felt as they walked through the doors of St Vincent’s to seek care.

Sister Karen’s – different, genuine, expansive – response started St Vincent’s on a path that years later established it as the standard-of-care for treating AIDS patients and their families.

Instead of anchoring on an image of a defaced Christ, Sister Karen’s response helped St Vincent’s create another new image: one that held the hand of the sick;  staged an infinite variety of birthday parties and last meals; and even created a new annual Holiday tradition, a visit from Drag Santa.

St. Vincent’s is gone now. Bull-dozed to make way for the neighborhood’s progress. But the response of Sister Karen lives on in the hearts and minds of those whom St Vincent’s touched.

The choices we have in front of us daily may not seem so highly-charged. But make no mistake, they all can be as influential. Our responses matter. Our willingness to bring who we are to the choice of how to respond has an unimaginable power.

This season I encourage you to bring your awareness to how you respond and to recognize the innumerable choices you face everyday related to responding. Without such reflection, we all risk leaving untapped the enormous potential that is resident within each of us.

I wish for you and those you love great peace and moments of joy this Holiday Season. Thank you for walking next to me as I continue to explore transition and as I embrace its invaluable gifts.

Warmest wishes for a safe and happy Holiday Season,

Linda R.

linda@WomenAndTransition.com

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If you have a few minutes more, here are a few holiday posts from the Novofemina archive:

Choices and Teddy Bears, December 20, 2017

Leading with Gratitude, December 21, 2011

A Gift for You This Holiday Season, December 12, 2013

Simple Gifts…, December 24, 2015

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Copyright © 2019 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Seeing You

Who sees you? You. Your essence. Your truth. I was reminded of being seen’s power during a recent exchange with my daughter.  She was introduced to being seen – only to have it taken away from her. Abruptly. Unexpectedly. The before and after contrast made me think about our last blog, A New Twist on Being Seen, and our willingness to let others see us.  Tell me, does anyone see you? Continue reading

A new twist on being seen

What does it mean to you to be seen? At first glance, ‘being seen’ might make you think about your presence or absence at something important. Were you at the right meeting? The right party? The right moment? What you recognize as ‘being seen’ will differ from what I recognize. That said, I am not sure this type of ‘being seen’ really captures it. What if ‘being seen’ is being acknowledged or affirmed for who you really are? Or even better. What if being seen is really about our willingness to be seen? Not the person you are supposed to be at work or at home or at the PTA meeting….You. Your essence. Your truth. How visible are you? Are you willing to be seen?

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Making Choices Matter

Choice is such a whopper of a topic. Isn’t it? How would you describe your relationship with choice? Do you err on the side of safety or throw caution to the wind? I’ve been thinking a lot about choices this summer thanks to a chance conversation. It happened when I was talking with an adult daughter of a friend at a lawn party earlier in June. She was excited about an upcoming move to LA and the start of a new job at a large law firm there. She had been in the public defender’s office in Dallas for a few years and was ready for a change. I was so curious about her decision.  That’s when she said something powerful about choice that sent me reeling…. Continue reading

Reaching

“It is unrealistic.” said my son to his long-time pediatrician. She was asking him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He’s fourteen. She reminded him that at last year’s physical he said, “I want to be a professional basketball player.”  I like her because she stops to ask him these questions. In spite of the cloying requirements of insurers that beg her to quickly move on, she lingers. Listens. Before saying anything more, he looked at me as if to say, ‘Should I tell her?’ Then he added calmly… 

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

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My struggle with kindness

Do you practice kindness?  I know it sounds pretty odd but this whole kindness business is getting under my skin.  The reason is really simple. I’ve witnessed time and again an unintended consequence of kindness that I find damaging, particularly to women. Let me explain. Have you ever caught yourself resorting to kindness when you would rather rage at something or someone?  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for reckless confrontation. But this conflict – the intersection of kindness and authenticity – has me wondering.  Is kindness becoming a new modern day requirement, another expectation that is layered upon us like a cloak gently silencing our voices? Continue reading

Rethinking Failure

Failure. failure. FAILURE. What pops into your mind when you hear the word?  Is it a failed relationship? Or a job offer that never materialized? Or a mortgage that was never approved? Or a marriage that ended badly? Or maybe failure has migrated its profile to become a trait that showed up one day and lingered.  Last week a rare coffee break with a dear friend got me thinking about failure in an entirely new light. It helped me see that failure may not be any of the things I listed above or the many more that we all could add to the list.  What if we have failure all wrong? Continue reading

Rethinking Enough

I was asked to make a 2019 wish on behalf of all the listeners of Feminine Foresight, a podcast for which I was recently interviewed.  My response was simple. I wished that we could all re-imagine ‘enough.’  Are you enough?  Maybe you haven’t thought about the question in quite that way before. Even so, I am fairly certain that you have experience with it or one of its popular cousins. Are you smart enough? Talented enough? Connected enough? Slim enough? Fit enough? Attractive enough? Kind enough? Driven enough? Supportive enough? Good enough? Happy enough? Tough enough? Successful enough? Present enough?  Loved enough? Loving enough? My personal favorite – in case you are wondering – hails from the good enough arena. Will I ever be good enough? Or more precisely, will my work ever be good enough? My interviewer’s question made me realize that I’ve had enough of all this. Have you ever wondered what might be awaiting for you on the other side of enough?

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Words We Cannot Say

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I’d explore a concept we don’t talk much about. Love. What comes to mind when you hear the word? Hallmark, Amazon and 1-800-flowers would hope that cupids and red roses and chocolate are somewhere in the mix. A recent story I read compelled me to look at love differently, from an honest and often hidden perspective. It centers on how we express love in the normal course. Can name a few ways that you do?  A pic from one of the ways I express love – talking about my fav topic transition – is below.
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Walking In Possibility

A belated Happy New Year! I am kicking off ’19 with an important new experiment. I want to walk in possibility – daily. Most of us recognize that the world is full of possibility. But I wonder how many of us recognize that this statement is also true for each of us individually? A world of possibility is resident within all of us. Are you ready to bring it forward? What might it look like for you? Perhaps ’19 is the year to bring shape to what possibility might mean for you.

January 2017, Washington, DC

Sounds funny, doesn’t it. Walking in possibility. The phrase came to me as I was taping a show for my upcoming – soon to be released – podcast, Destination Unknown: a field guide. One of my guests talked about the energy she derived from ‘living in possibility’ instead of ‘living in fear.’ She was able to feel the difference. Fear for her was very real. It emanated from her desire to make a career change after thirty years in an industry.

My desire to walk in possibility brought me to my experiment. Unlike my guest, I was not able to see fear as my driver. Instead my gate to possibility lives in the voices inside my head that battle with me by diminishing, devaluing, derailing possibility. This symphony is a constant companion. You see I am the champion of private highly-damaging monologues. These thoughts can creep in from any front; work, parenting, relationships, elder care. No sector is off-limits.

My experiment for 2019 is centered on eliminating the barriers that stand in the way of my possibility. I want to go five days straight without a negative, critical or self-limiting thought deflating my sense of self. Any time I fall off the wagon, my five day count will re-set. I have 365 days with which to pull off this consecutive five day cycle.

This goal is tricky. I may not be able to stop these thoughts from entering my head. But to move forward any one day I need to change the way I respond to them.

How hard can this be?  You may ask.

Five days.

It feels like an eternity from where I sit.

For those wondering about my progress, I haven’t gone two consecutive days yet. We are roughly ten days into the year.

Here is a great example. Last week I talked with a handful of career coaches to test a business idea I have been toying with for some time. I’d like to run continuing education courses for professionals, like financial planners or career and life coaches. I plan to share my research and, most importantly, my exercises. All of those with whom I spoke were interested in the idea. Can you guess what happened next? My lovely inner voice discounted the avenue…..entirely.

My guess is that I am not alone in this type of cycle.

For my experiment to work, I need to recognize an inbound nasty gram and I need to tag it as such. Irrational. Highly circumspect. I can no longer allow these thoughts to take root, change my mood or – most especially – convince me that my idea or desire isn’t worthy.

Yes, five days really does feel like an eternity….

Possibilities live in transition’s zip code. Our dreams are imagined possibilities. They serve a crucial role as we navigate shifts in transition. Through possibilities we envision, architect and begin moving forward.

If you decide to venture forth in possibility, what would you expect to encounter along the way? Maybe the answer to that question can lead you to an experiment, like mine, one that will help you see possibility in an entirely new light.

May ’19 bring you the courage to walk in your possibility and to greet with an open heart all that you encounter along the way.

Happy New Year!

Linda R. (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)


Stay tuned for the release of Destination Unknown: a field guide. I have 3 episodes taped and one final technical hurdle to overcome. If you are a podcast expect, I’d love your help troubleshooting this problem. Let me know! linda@WomenAndTransition.com


Copyright © 2019 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.