“It’s like raisin bread,” Ryan Allshouse explained, drawing a blue rectangle on his white board studded with blue dots, “As the bread bakes, it expands and the raisins get farther away from each other.”
“I still don’t get it,” I said. “How can the universe be expanding? Expanding into what? The bread expands into the air. Where there was air, the bread is now taking up the space. When the universe expands what gives way?” I cross my arms and tap my foot, brow furrowed, unhappy with the raisin bread explanation.
Ryan laughs. “I don’t know.”
Years ago, Ryan might have kept this conversation going. He might have argued with me and showed me the research on the expanding universe and why, from a space/physics/science-y perspective, my question was silly. But this Ryan, older, wiser, and passionate about knowledge and deep thoughts, has learned the importance of not-knowing. He’s learned the immeasurable value of the one statement every human can (and should) make, regardless of years of study and expertise. Continue reading “Simple Lessons in a Complex World”
Call it what you like–invocation, poem, or battle cry–I am Steelcelebrates women everywhere; where we come from, who we are, and what we create. As both individuals and collaborators, we shape the world.
“Don’t go looking for trouble;” Sookie Stackhouse, heroine of The Southern Vampire Series often says, quoting her wise grandmother (who in turn was paraphrasing Proverbs 11:27), “it’s already looking for you.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, author and philosopher, offers a different but related perspective, “Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.” Even if you aren’t a fan of either Sookie or Dostoyevsky, it’s difficult to deny there’s truth here: Trouble is looking for us whether we like it or not, and we tend to focus on it, even when we’re trying not to.
But, trouble is neither all bad, nor all encompassing. At least, it doesn’t have to be. We can follow a different path. One highlighted by poet Mary Oliver in her poem Sometimes:
Twenty-three and recently single after a painful break up, graduated from college but still waiting tables, I pretended to myself that I was already both confident and self-aware. I needed neither parents nor boyfriend, my ego told me, I could figure this “being an adult” thing out on my own.
One night, I finished my shift and decided to meet my friend Reggie at the little bar he managed. Littered with mismatched throw rugs and comfy couches, Kingman’s Lucky Lounge on Grand Avenue in Oakland, California seemed as good a place as any for me to spend my time and a few of the dollars stashed in my apron pocket.
“If this program succeeds, you’ll all be proud of it,” Komal Solanki told her team. The long days and constant pressures to meet the deadline took a toll on everyone involved in the huge program. Engineers, business teams, consultants, vendors, project managers, and leaders hunkered down for two years to implement an important technology project. Teamwork was critical to its success.
Laptop always in hand, Komal had to ask her team for more effort and more hours. With grace and poise, she advocated for her people while working closely with the project managers and senior leaders in charge of setting the direction and timeline. When the members of her team felt low, she reminded them of the pride they would feel when the work was done, and done well. Neither she nor her team are superhuman, but they seemed that way at times–and still do.
Cultivating a successful team requires clear vision and the ability to focus on results, no matter what the circumstances of the present moment may be. In work, as in life, the way things have always been done may not be the way things should always be. Komal, balancing tradition and innovation, knows this better than most. Continue reading “Technology, Leadership, and Life”
Simone de Beauvoir, French author and philosopher, wrote, “To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” Put another way, to have confidence in one’s body is to have confidence in oneself. Like many American women, I have some body issues. When I’m not mad at it for its pimples, wrinkles, or saddle bags, I’m disappointed in it for not being healthy enough. In 2016 I struggled with my body. My confidence wobbled. Clearly, something was wrong.
If your read my post A Resolution Resolutionyou’re familiar with my annual commitment to creating Intentions, statements that encompass an idea or way of being, to live into. This year, one of my Intentions is to honor my body. To do that, I’ll need to address years of negative influences, both outside and inside my own head.
One dark December night in the late 1980s, I pulled a pair of rollerblades on and slipped out the front door of my childhood home in Southern California. Not typically the fearless type, the notion of racing around my block in the middle of the night thrilled me, even as I worried I might come home bruised and bloody. The moment the wheels hit asphalt and I gained speed down the gentle hill not far from my house, I reveled in the speed. I was invincible, pure motion and spirit in that moment.
That’s how it feels to talk to Hadley Barrows, children’s book author, publisher, and changemaker. To know her, is to feel as if all things are possible.Continue reading “Becoming Invincible”
Seems like just yesterday we were dressing up in feather boas and funny hats together, but CK Sanders has been CEO of a successful New York business for sixteen years now. She once helped me catch crawdads in a pond, and now she helps New Yorkers experience the great outdoors through day trips to craft breweries, wineries, and other hot spots for agritourism.
If owning her own business wasn’t enough, CK launched a music career as a side project. Her recently released single, “Who We Are,” feels like an anthem to everything I want 2017 to be: heartfelt, collaborative, creative, and true.
I am adopted. This is a phrase I have said hundreds of times in my life. When I’m at a new doctor and they want my family history: I am adopted. When my kid’s doctor wants a family history on his maternal side: I don’t know. I’m adopted. When someone comments on how I look nothing like my little sister: It’s because I’m adopted.
Don’t get me wrong–I love talking about it, I love telling people my story. It’s just my way of life. These simple words have opened up so many different conversations and connections and pathways for me. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t know I was adopted, that I was chosen.
Sometimes, even if I want a grilled cheese sandwich, the bread is moldy and the cheese has a funny (but not in a good way) smell. I must adapt my dinner preferences as I must adapt my life to the circumstances within it.
When we make New Year’s Resolutions, no doubt the goal is to resolve an issue we perceive in our lives today. We resolve to stop something we’re doing. Or start something new. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to break the routine and introduce a new idea. The issue I have with resolutions, as we practice them in daily life today, is with the stiff formality of it all.
Our lives are fluid. But, resolutions assume only a grilled cheese will do.
So I don’t make them. (Actually, I don’t make either resolutions or grilled cheese. The former, because I think they don’t work well, the latter because I always burn them.) Instead, I create intentions. They’re ideas I want to live into, frameworks that set a direction, but don’t specify the road.