Tag Archives: careeer transition

Showing Up in Uncertainty

I remember a Harvard Business School professor of mine sharing a story with us one day before class started. “It matters that you show up.” He said. His friend had lost a loved one. My professor went to the house, not really believing that he should be there. In spite of his reservations, he simply showed up. His presence proved to be deeply meaningful to his friend and the family.

This action – showing up – is a great illustration of what is required in this moment of uncertainty and social unrest. You. Can you be you in all your splendor and incompleteness?  Are you showing up?

 

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

My professor’s story popped into my mind last night as I was hosting Dishing on Disruption, a weekly interactive ‘transition-inspired’ online event. A participant shared that she was hesitant in this moment, not knowing what to say to friends who inhabited different racial and ethnic spheres than the one she occupied.

Are you ever hesitant to be you?

Transition says a lot about this. It is a process that asks us to show up. To engage more and more of who we are in what we choose to do. While that sounds simple on the page, it is challenging to execute.

Here’s why: When we enter adulthood, we rely on external influences to set our definitions and expectations for who we are.  Our families, our communities, our religious affiliations, the schools we attend, our occupation, and so much more coalesce to form these external influences.  Together they erect a wall between you and their expectations and definitions for you.

Transition invites us to disassemble that wall piece-by-piece.  It is a process. A woman whom I interviewed recently for my 2nd book described the process as, “chaotic, lonely, surprising and adventurous.”  She went on to describe how transition expressed itself for her,  “It gave me the ability to see myself. Prior to this all happening, the me I saw was other people’s perception of me. What I got to see in all of this was a very different me. It helped me ask the tough questions; ‘What do I want to do? What do I want to be?’ and really listen to my answer for the first time in my life.”

Once upon a time, showing up meant getting out of the car at work and heading through the front door into the office. The mechanics of our days have changed, but our need to show up remains unchallenged.

Are you ready to show up?

My work on transition has given me a steadfast belief: if we are to emerge better from this moment as individuals and as a nation, we all need to show up.

It isn’t easy to show up in this fashion but it is enormously valuable to do so. When I first realized that I needed to show up in a different way, I was overwhelmed by a hard truth. It had been so long since I asked myself a question about what it might mean for me to show up, the answer was not obvious. It took perseverance and possibility to guide me forward as I looked for an answer. The search has turned into a journey of a lifetime; one that expands who I am to include an author, advocate, and advisor who is staunchly rooted in social justice issues.  The journey continues to unfold and to give me great gifts. The greatest one, perhaps, is my connection to myself which in turn allows me to connect with you.

I wish for you the courage to ask yourself questions about how you show up. I also hope that you carry something special in your heart. You see, I firmly believe that the answer to our unrest and to ensuring a brilliant future for Black Americans is present with us now.

All you have to do is show up.

Linda R.  (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)

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If you have another moment, check out my new website here. It offers a one-stop shop for resources on transition for you, your family members or friends who are in or considering transition. Let me know what you think!

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Copyright © 2020 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com. All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

 

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.

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 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?

Continue reading

Summoning Ourselves

Last week as I joined the nation in listening to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee a woman whom I met years ago popped into my head. She was a classmate of mine at a one-day seminar sponsored by the Op-Ed Project. The organization works to expand the range of voices in the media. They believe that Whoever tells the story, writes history.  My friend was very young, a year or two out of undergrad. She was smart and deeply thoughtful. Over the course of the day, the class learned that she was the victim of an aggressive sexual assault. The experience was consuming her. She couldn’t get beyond it. She felt as if she was treading water. Every once in a while it seemed as if she dipped below the surface. She was full of disbelief. Shattered. She hoped the seminar would teach her how to use her voice to contribute to a broader dialogue about change. She was game. But her experience gave her pause. She wondered if anyone was listening? Continue reading

Fierce Acceptance

How many times over the past week have you said to yourself I’m not, I can’t, I don’t know, I could never…? Maybe the words were spoken silently in a lament for a dress size you can never seem to achieve, or for the absent support of a boss or co-worker, or for an internal struggle that seems overwhelming. What would happen if we took all the energy it takes to process these thoughts and redirected it?  Continue reading

The Choice of Voice

I had five minutes to myself Sunday morning. The dog wasn’t awake yet and my two teenagers were still snoring. I sat down to read the newspaper. It was pure pleasure. I feel like the only person on the planet who still reads a physical newspaper.  The digital versions always leave me wondering if I’ve read all the day’s news. I spread the paper out flat, just the way I remember my dad reading it when I was a preschooler. He read the paper on the living room floor amidst all our toys and games. This morning I never got past the headline. It reminded me of one of the most important assets we each possess, our voices.  Continue reading

Your New Year

Are you making plans to re-set something in ’18? Exercise levels? Career goals? Relationships? Your look?  Last week I observed a quick moment that reminded me of the very real opportunity we all have as we begin another year.  The opportunity isn’t found in the newest exercise app nor in the latest color palette for our homes. Instead it is something that resides in each of us.  Continue reading

Away and Forward

“Thank you for being honest,” said a woman who introduced herself to me Thursday after a speaking event I did with Women Unlimited.  What struck me in our quick conversation was our agreement – both hers and mine – of how unusual it is for any of us to be so transparent.  She sought me out after a story I told about a moment that I remember vividly. I was sitting in my boss’s staff meeting, an all-day affair attended by the top brass of a Fortune 500. I had worked tirelessly for decades for a seat at this table. This moment is so memorable and bracing because I recall sitting there saying to myself, “you’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve worked this hard…for this?!!? There must be something more.” Continue reading

Choices Beyond Expectations

“You are an ever-moving mark,” said Jessica Donohue at the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA’s Leading Women Awards last week.  Ms. Donohue, who was recognized for her achievements as EVP of State Street, stood out from among the other awardees for her honesty and humility.  She  talked about a label ascribed to her as a young person, ADHD. While it has traveled with her, her vitality is outside of it. She was clear in her thinking about labels or the expectations that go along with them. “Don’t box me in. Encourage me to be more.  Learn more. Resist naming – everywhere.” Continue reading