Courage in the last two weeks

I have been conspicuously (or, perhaps, inconspicuously) absent from this space for the last two weeks.

They’ve been interesting ones, requiring me to use courage in ways that I didn’t anticipate at the beginning of the year. I was going to write about my reflections on last year this morning, and what I learned about myself in doing so. I was going to write about how I anticipate courage coming into my life this year.

Instead, oof, I feel like I really need to focus on the last two weeks. They’ve been… how can I put this? Let’s go with “challenging”. It seemed like work, the weather, and myriad other things were conspiring against me and most of my coworkers in the last two weeks. So many meetings, so many things to decide, so much time spent in Zoom calls with various groups of people. It happens every year around this time, so it’s not completely out of the ordinary. But man, it hit harder this year, and I am not sure why.

Regardless, these past two weeks required me to show up and be courageous in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. The courage to speak up in meetings. The courage to lead a potentially contentious discussion on behalf of a friend who’d already been in the line of fire from the group doing the discussing. The courage to commit to an invited presentation (one that was advertised and everything – yikes!) then engage in live discussion with a co-presenter. The courage to admit that I majorly screwed up the analysis for a particular study (sigh…).

So much time out of my comfort zone and yet, I realize that it’s necessary for my growth, for me to change.

And now I need to find the courage to do the same in my personal life. I started thinking this weekend how I wanted courage to integrate into my life this year. I know that I want to work (more) on courage at work, as well as courage in my personal life / at home. I know that I need to find the courage to change, if in fact I want things to change.

I’m not quite there yet – I don’t know what this will look like, exactly. But I hope the end result gives me some insights into who I am now, and who I want to be, and how I can bridge the gap between them.

There’s not much substance here, and I’m sorry for it. But these thoughts are still pretty nebulous… and it’s hard to be much more definitive than I’ve been.

So instead, I’ll leave you with a quote…

Nothing keeps us from changing more than our tendency — our willingness — to remain locked into versions of ourselves, into personae and identities barred in by heavy leaden rods of self-righteousness. Too often, we’d rather be right than understand — ourselves or others or the world — but it is only understanding, which only grows by leaps and bounds of wrong guesses and failed theories, that firms our grasp of reality.

~Anne Lamott


I’ve always loved reading these posts when written by others. They give a good glimpse into our days and our lives – and I’m not going to lie – the word prompts are helpful too, when you’re just getting your brain going on a Monday Tuesday morning. (Started this Monday morning and… somehow now it is Tuesday. Sigh.)

So with that, here’s what I am currently…

Enjoying…the quiet of a Monday Tuesday morning working at home. It astonishes me sometimes how quiet it can be in this apartment. This is a great example – early morning, most people haven’t gotten going yet (or if they have, they’re in their own apartments doing so!). For once, there are no sirens or loud trucks going down the main road near my apartment. It’s just… Quiet. I love it.

Drinking…Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea before I have my cup of coffee. Speaking of which, I am still drinking the free coffees (well, free but for shipping and handling) from Tchibo coffee. San brought my attention to this offer and I was astonished to find out that… it was true? I’ve loved the ones I’ve tried so far. Saving the dark roast for last as that is usually my favorite. 🙂

Eating…Well, nothing at the moment. I’ll have a granola bar in a bit.

Feeling…behind. Always and forever. I will never catch up, and I think I just need to come to grips with that.

Reading…Well, nothing at this exact moment. But I’m currently flipping between Think Again, by Adam Grant, and The Third to Die, by Allison Brennan. Both good in their own (very different) ways.

Listening to…My Really Good (and really random) playlist on YouTube. Currently playing Darius Rucker, Wagon Wheel. Who know what will come up next?

Grateful for… people who make me think. Being challenged to think differently is hard for me, but often necessary. I appreciate those in my life who make me think without challenging my inherent worth as a human being. My ideas, yes, but not who I am. This comes up in work and in life, and I do appreciate the opportunity to revisit and reconsider my beliefs and / or thoughts.

Buying…. not a whole lot. Trying to reduce frivolous spending this month. Last month got a bit out of hand. The problem is, a lot of winter stuff is on sale right now (fleece, etc.) and I do have a few things to replace. Hm. Maybe a one-for-one approach? Something in and something (equivalent) out?

(For those who are curious, the playlist went to Brandi Carlisle. That woman has…a voice. Wow.)

Taking… a deep breath as I look at my schedule today. Meetings straight from 9-1. Short break, and then one more meeting to wrap up the day. Oof. Why do I think that I can get something done on these days? It so rarely happens.

Anticipating…making some changes in my routine (I know! It’s crazy to even consider). I’ve realized that if I want to do more of what I want to do (e.g., write here, read and comment on your blogs) that I need to shift priorities or it will never happen.

Wishing…all of you a wonderful Tuesday and a great rest of the week. I’m hoping to be back soon (maybe even this week?) with some thoughts on Courage and how I see it manifesting in my life this year.

Drifting into a new month

Wow. I know everyone says this, every month, but how on earth is it already February? I mean, I’ll never argue with anyone who asserts that January is the longest month, because of course it is, but it seems as though February really snuck up on me this year.

Thank you all, again, for your support and your virtual hugs. It really means a lot… and it’s bolstered me as I take on this rather daunting task of exploring my identity as a newly single middle-aged (sigh) adult. I confess that I did not get as far as I had hoped in reviewing 2021, in all its ups and downs. I did have a few revelations, though…

First, that I was kind of blind to how things were, and in hindsight it seems almost inevitable that we arrived where we did at the end of the year. I am the kind of person who takes notes, so of course I have notes and journal entries from throughout the year. One thing is clear – despite my brief forays into optimism, things were really the same at the beginning of the year as they were closer to the end. In an odd way, that made me feel a bit better about how the year ended. We did try. We did make an effort. It seems like things were just too far gone to salvage the relationship.

I’m continuing my reflection and review into February. I knew this would be a long project, for lack of a better word, and I want to take my time to really explore how I evolved to who I am right now. Which (I hope) will help me figure out how and who I want to be going forward.

Another realization was more of a confirmation of what I already knew about myself. I was too much of a hermit last year. I missed so many opportunities to get out more, to step away, to do something other than well, work. Seeing all those missed opportunities makes me a bit sad. I don’t want to waste that kind of time again. Which means that I have to go into the rest of 2022 with the intention of re-engaging with the world (in a way that feels safe for me, of course).

Which leads to my word of the year (courage, in case you missed it) and my intentions (Be kind. Seek joy.). I was thinking last night whether I’ve shown courage this month. There were a few moments that stood out. Believe it or not, going in to teach last week for the first time in weeks – getting on a crowded bus (thankfully with masked riders) – and putting myself physically in front of a classroom of students took a bit more courage than I anticipated. I’ve been doing this for a while. I like teaching. I love my students. So it was surprising to me that I needed to really needed to pump myself up, in a way, to go into those classrooms. (Of course, it went fine. That doesn’t mean I’m not anxious about tomorrow, though. That’s just who I am!)

And… the other thing I started doing towards the end of the month was seeking joy in every day. Elisabeth writes about joyfinding, a word that I love. My joyfinding this month included a random FaceTime with my parents on Saturday morning, and taking the time to participate in a virtual forum for Daniel Pink’s new book, the Power of Regret. I had preordered the book, which gave me access to the event, and it exceeded my expectations. So many powerful lessons. The best one came from Anne Lamott and her book Bird by Bird (which, for the record, I have not yet read despite it being recommended by many people). The gist of the lesson was that to get things done, you have to take one step at a time. You can only see a few feet in front of you, so focus on that, and taking one step. Then take another. And another. And before you know it, you have completed an entire journey, one step at a time.

For me, that’s a wonderful approach to take this year. One step forward. One small action to seek a bit of adventure in my life. One small joy in each day. Reflecting on what was, what is, and what will be, one step at a time.

(And yes, I will be reading her book now… that lesson tipped it for me…)

Although I haven’t read the book, reading the reviews of it led me to this quote, which seems appropriate…

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird