Tag Archives: Relationships

A New Direction

The winds of change are blowing.

Two months into my new job and I have finally found my feet – my balance. It’s not been the easiest transition, I must say. The Power that Is sent some terrific challenges my way personally, knocking me off balance just when I was most precariously perched. I’ve shed some tears the past couple months and I’ve exercised my faith…’tain’t been easy! It has, however, grown me as I so like to grow. And now, with my feet firmly grounded, I’m ready to feel the sun shine on my face as I start in a new direction.

One of my favorite things about my new boss is his voracious appetite for learning. He will learn from anything-or-one he’s the opportunity to learn from. He reflects on the way he builds his company, his business and his community impact. He encourages me to do the same. Due in part to a leadership podcast he’s turned me on to, an idea he has I think’s worth building and my thoughtful hubby’s cautionary reminder I don’t loose sight of my dreams, I find myself pulled in a new direction and I want to share it with you.

I recently thought hard about what I’m good at, what I believe in and what brings me joy. I reflected on these things in an effort to boil my professional aspirations down to a one sentence job description; something on which I can focus when I start to “spin”. What I landed on has excited me and I find my mind racing with ways to make it happen.

I want to encourage and inspire people to do business mindfully.

I want people to go out into the business world with ideas that encourage generosity of the spirit and collaborative thinking. I want to broadcast awesome resources/ideas like TED and Netweaving to influence anyone I can reach. And (this is where the joy comes in;)), I want to do this by written word. I want to learn and reflect on my learnings in such a way as they might inspire others to their own reflections.

It just so happens my boss has interest in doing much the same. Jason created a social platform a while back called the Noodlehead Network. Envisioned as a place where business minds can gather and share, it sits empty and waiting…like a carnival in a ghost town:(

So it is here I find myself. An idea rooted in passion and a vehicle for it’s launch. I’m ready to focus my attention and efforts in a new direction and I’m excited to see where this path leads me. I’m going to re-commit myself to regular writing and do the best work I can at the same time.

I worry only about PLM. This blog is so very special to me. It’s very name has become so much a part of how I see myself. If I choose to focus my writing time on Noodlehead Network instead of here I will miss it so…

But we’ll just see what happens, shall we? I hope those of you with an interest in this new project will join the conversation. In fact, I’d love to start it right now.

What ideas/information/people have you been exposed to that/who influence the way you work? The way you build the relationships in your lives? The way you go forth?

Mean Mama

Kiddo has been wearing me out lately. If it’s not an incessant plea for attention it’s good old fashioned disobedience. I never felt “shake the baby” urges with him as an infant but I’m feeling some kick the kiddo urges something fierce now (not repeated kicking, mind you…just a solid drop kick…one that gets some distance…).

I don’t dig the rage. It does not become me. I remember telling our flatmate two days before my wedding that he’d made me so angry I wanted to pull his head down his throat and out his arse…see? That’s ugly stuff…

At church on Sunday I lost it. I picked kiddo up from the nursery after the passing of the peace so he could be with us for communion prayers. He squirmed, spoke too much and did not follow my instructions. At one point he was reaching for a hymnal on the pew in front of us and I told him not to. He began arguing with me and I got angry. I was mostly angry about arguing about something so stupid – something I didn’t really care about – simply because I’d put my foot down. But I’d put my foot down. War was waged.

At the same time, familiar, peaceful words were left unattended. I was missing the parts of my worship I know by heart; my speaking role. And in the midst of the words I love I snatched up that damn book and I pressed it into his belly. Not too hard, mind you – but I’d wanted to shove it at him.

I cried through the next hymn, my mother’s arm across my shoulders telling me it’s ok…

Then I began to reflect. I started thinking about how I have been doing things, how I might change things, how I might rustle up a happier relationship with the 3 1/2 year old I love so dearly. Here are a few samplings of those meditations…I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts.

  1. I think stay-at-home moms generally have a better sense of routine. It is at the fiber of their very survival and most kids respond well to it. Maybe it’s not because I work…it could just be my temperment…but I wonder if I should mindfully create more structure in our time together
    1b) This idea later sabotaged me when I lost conviction on a punishment decision (withholding his bedtime story)…
  2. There’s a concept of emotional banking I’m familiar with whereas if you (for example) want to have leave to make decisions for a child without suffering him independent growth you supplement that growth with created decision opportunities: Do you want to play outside for fifteen minutes and then take a bath or do you want to go ahead and take your bath now?
  3. I was already looking for guidance before the Hymnal Incident, and our pastor was talking about Doubting Thomas. It’d take some explaining to give Mary’s sermon justice (it was very good) but the message I heard was it’s ok to have doubts: they lead to questions to meditation to growth.
    3b) This was especially comforting as I mused further and thought of how much more confident I’ve been in my parenting at other stages of kiddo’s life. I’m struggling to find my confidence on this one. It’s unsettling.
  4. I am totally getting mine. I never shut up as a kid (and rarely do now). The irony of having an incessant talker for a child is soo Alanis Morissette;)

I’ve spoken with hubby, sissy and mama about my frustrations. They brought new ideas to the table and helped me find more peace on the matter. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. What kind of parenting have you witnessed or practiced? Any guidance, reassurance or (cringe) criticisms for me?

Virtual Anonymity

A couple of months ago I had occasion to read the blog of a woman seeking employment with my sister company. It’s a foodie blog and I’m all about some food. On my first visit, her home page featured the old-school cover of a Nancy Drew hardback: The Mystery of the Hardboiled Egg. I was smitten:) I enjoyed her posts and and I decided a little mystery would be fun, so when I joined the conversation at La Aguacate I did so as Pot Luck Mama.

This virtual world we have here is interesting. This opportunity to pop in and out of “places”; observing behaviors, joining conversations and building relationships. We are not hampered by space or time. I put a thought out into the cloud and you are able to pluck it out if and when you see fit. We are also afforded a voyeuristic opportunity more blatant than I have seen in my lifetime. A growing segment of humankind has, in fact, embraced this opportunity for self-expression. All those inclined to share thoughts and ideas, stories and questions may do so – for many to see.

What’s more, we may do so on our own terms. We can enter a space, decide we don’t like the scene, and depart without exposure. We can share our thoughts without sharing our names, much like a stranger on the bus with whom we had such a lovely chat. We can choose a pen name, freeing ourselves from exposure or characterizing ourselves for the environment. We can share our professional profile, tailored individually to our taste and in the forum most comfortable (and convenient) to us. On that note, we may do so in our pajamas or between chores…

Today, a virtual friend is visiting my physical world:) Annakate, whom I am thrilled has joined our corporate team, will be in town for the week visiting with the team down here. Fortunately, my role has changed recently to involve me in her little circle of work, and she and I will get to play together often:) Our first brainstorming session, in fact, will be held as we take a cooking class together at The Viking Store in Atlanta (see footnote, below).

Our jobs include building virtual and physical communities around these stores (cooking school/unique event facility/appliance & culinary toy stores – all under one brick and mortar roof!) in Atlanta and Nashville. We are going to do this by supplementing the brick and mortar bliss with a virtual space where our team and brand’s friends can join together and share culinary adventures, recipes and advice. We will invite our brick and mortar guests to continue the friendships they forge in our classes in flexible virtuosity.

“We want you to experience the care, attention and inspiration we dish up at all of our cooking classes and private events – whether you can find the time to stop by a showroom or not. We are passionate professionals who want to expose you to our knowledge, our tools and our friends. Viking ToGo – culinary creativity in a doggie bag.” {That’s some draft verbiage for the site…what do you think? Too cheesy?}

Seriously…how much fun are we about to have? 🙂

I realize my work project only relates to virtual anonymity in the sense that I used it to begin what will now become a professional relationship. Still, I find myself making identity decisions regularly now as I play in my virtual pools, and  I wonder who does the same. Are you as excited as I to build new relationships on various levels of openness? How have you balanced anonymity while growing relationships?

The whole scenario reminds me of how good it always felt to move to a new city. In each new place we can begin again, that much closer to being the people we want to be. And that newness can be experienced online without concern for the financial or obligatory restrictions one may have while navigating the physical word.  The virtual world is our oyster:)

FYI, I’ll post photos from the cooking class to Twitter today as we do our thing. If any of you witty followers tweet me with a clever caption for one of the photos in the next 24 hours I’ll hook you up with discount from The Viking Store ~a discount on a class for an ATL or NASH resident, a culinary toy discount for a US resident, a surprise for South African residents (to be delivered in May) and sorry for the rest of the world but I’ll just have to give you guys kudos for wit:)

FOOTNOTE
1. I definitely classify this first brainstorming session as a perk. I also classify the culinary toys I am bringing home with me to (ahem) test out for the blog series I want to do on the subject as PERKS!

Spiritual Preparation

In the summer after my sophomore year in college I chaperoned our church’s youth group pilgrimage to the UK. Hot on the heals of heartbreak, that summer was a pivotal one. I got in shape, I got the travel bug and, on that trip, I started to feel like a grown-up. We visited standing stones and cathedrals alike on that journey. The experience strengthened my conviction that my God, by any other name, would smell as sweet.

For all my self-asserted openness, I’m still looking for the church I grew up in. I like knowing when to stand up, sit down or kneel. I like a Sunday School class that’s “meaty”. I want a sermon – not announcements. I want love and comfort and growth. I want a religion that’s tailored to my spirituality. Maybe that’s why I’ve prayed more during yoga practice and less in the pews of late. Or, maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough for a new church. Whatever the reasons, these days I find myself experiencing the bulk of my spiritual growth outside of my comfort zone – and it feels good.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and I may not make it to a church service. Lent begins whether I’m there or not, anyway. Lent begins for those who observe it not because it is on the liturgical or civic calendar, but because they choose to observe it. They choose to prepare themselves to strengthen and celebrate their relationship with God.

I don’t want to use this space to talk about my personal Lent commitments; I want to share this idea of preparation. I encourage those of you who have observed Lent in the past to consider your decisions this season. This is not about giving something up. This is about preparing for a relationship. Self-denial is only effective in Lent if the thing you’re denying yourself distances you from God or if the time and energy spent doing it can be redirected to your preparation. Don’t give up chocolate. Instead, make a commitment to spend thirty seconds in prayer every time you want but don’t have a piece of chocolate in the hopes that this regular prayer will become a part of your daily routine. Put some thought into your commitments. Tailor them to your spirituality.

For those of you who haven’t observed Lent before, I encourage you to consider experiencing some spiritual growth outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to start tomorrow. You can run your Lent from May 17th to June 1st for all anyone else has to do with it. Call him God, call him Allah, call him her – it makes no difference to me. Just prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for a relationship with your God and do so thoughtfully – the rewards will be greater for your efforts.

Here’s a prayer I learned on that pilgrimage that I have turned to time and again. The strength of the words never fail me. I find them even more poignant with my Lent approaching. They help me prepare. I hope they have a similar effect on you.

Standing Stones: Killen, Scotland

God, thanks for welcoming me again. I look into my heart, and I am not proud of what I see there. I look into my mind, and it is cluttered with worries and concerns and important business. I look at my hands and they are full of the things I think I need for my comfort and security. God, you welcome me before I am ready, while I am still in a mess. But you do not care about the mess. You can see deeper into my heart, to the beauty and potential you have made there. You know what my mind will be like when I have learned how to stop being so serious and worried about life and work. You know what my hands will hold when I have learned how to empty them for you to fill. You love me and you love each one of us with the same enthusiasm and hope. You know what we can be. Help us to empty our hearts and minds and hands of all that is unnecessary and teach us how to care for and welcome one another every day with the same affection and generosity with which you welcome us.

Date Night

Illustration by FPJC

Sonskyn and I lived in Centurion, South Africa from late 2002 to late 2004. We stayed in a two bedroom flat (with our friend, Koning) with a beautiful view of the sunset. Our place had an open door to all our friends and, seeing that most of them were back in their parents’ houses (several of us had just returned from working in Scotland together), there was a constant flow of company. Sonskyn and I are social people, so we enjoyed this.  Still, we have our ups and downs like any couple and I recall a period when I was especially hungry for romance.

I hinted at it. I threw the lack of it around like an accusation when we’d argue. I’d fantasize about all the dramatic gestures he could make for me…if he wanted to. Did he just not love me as much as I loved him? Why, though I felt with all my heart that he did, wasn’t I sated?

I was driving along the N4 from Centurion to Wonderboom one morning and just as I was cresting the hill overlooking Pretoria, a realization came to me. I still associate the idea with the view.  If I wanted romance, I should do something romantic. I shouldn’t waste my energy being frustrated with Sonskyn for not scratching my romantic itch. I should scratch it myself and show him how nice it could be in the process;). I spent the rest of the morning scheming.

First I had to kick Koning out for the night- easy enough. Then I found rose pedals at a florist, scribbled a cute little poem alluding to what was to come and had a friend come with me to drop off the car keys with my note so Sonskyn could get home. As he approached the car that evening to leave, he noticed a few stray pedals on the ground by the driver’s side…then a few more scattered on the  driver’s seat…

He came into the apartment, which was aglow with scattered candles and petals. He laughed nervously when he saw me in silk…

We had a lovely evening. We laughed, we smiled and we had a taste of romance. I was sated.

That decision and that evening changed me in a sense. The success tuned me in to a power I have – the power of free will. Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, but our response to those circumstances are very much in our control. Remember, Sonskyn may not have been in the mood for romance that night. He may have come home and told me he loved me and the gesture, but just didn’t have the stuffing for a high-level emotional evening. He may not have reciprocated. His response was beyond my control. But, knowing that the gesture had never been selfless anyway, I hope I would have chosen to find happiness in the idea that he did love me and the gesture. If I forgave him for not being in the same place as me I bet he’d have appreciated it even more.

Last week a post from Annakate at La Aguacate inspired me to shake up my shopping cart with some different veggies. I picked up some fresh fish and on Monday night I cooked. I not only cooked, I glided around the kitchen, cleaning up as I went along and really enjoying the process. At some point it all just looked so beautiful that the need to be romantic took over and, on a random Monday night, Sonskyn and I had a romantic (though late:)) dinner. I saw the Pretoria skyline in my mind’s eye all the while.

1. I cleaned as I cooked so I could relax and enjoy sitting down to the meal.
2. Fresh ingredients and the A.V.C.T.. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what endives were called but they looked like they’d be tasty sauteed…
3. You see the cous cous there? Just sitting there ready for the kettle water?
4. Totally forgot to make it.
5. But that’s ok because it gave a new twist to our leftover lunches:)

  • Fresh Fish
  • Pecans
  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Cilantro – 1 bunch
  • a couple of tablespoons of flour (salt & pepper to taste)

Finely chop pecans (can use A.V.C.T.) and about 1/3 of the cilantro. Mix with Parmesan. Lightly dust fish with flour to dry and then dip into egg wash before coating with pecan mixture. Cook in pan with EVOO at medium heat. Flip when browned. Let rest on paper towel before serving on bed of cilantro.

I halved endives and sauteed them in the pan after the fish. Those, a chunk of mozzerella and a half tomato each were our sides…you could obviously do something different.

I hope my story inspires you to create a little romance for Valentine’s Day…it can mean so much more than those commercializing the holiday would lead you to believe. And, if romantic love isn’t in the cards this year, please remember that you are free to express Agápe, Philia, and/or Storge at your will. I hope your week is filled with love! 🙂

Pretoria skyline