About Paula Kiger

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Moving: What a relief

Moving: What a relief

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “relief.”

I was talking with my neighbor/friend last night about how I feel about leaving our neighborhood after living here 15 years.

I discussed how — several years ago — I would be running in Hawk’s Landing, which is laid out perfectly for running workouts, and thinking, “I could never leave this.” That’s silly of course because I *could* leave.

From the moment we bought here, I knew we had bitten off more than we could chew financially, but that definitely needs to be in the “what’s done is done” category at this point.

All those running mornings (and afternoons … and evenings), though, were really the common thread that had me processing what it would mean to leave. Even then I think I realized I was pre-grieving the fact that we would have to leave eventually.

And now that it’s down to just Wayne and me, the decision has been made. The new family of six moves in Friday.

Despite the grieving, it’s also a relief.

A relief from the debt of being in a house that has always been more than we could afford.

A relief for me, fairly housekeeping incompetent, to stop having to worry about 2500+ square feet. (From the beginning, the thought was that we would be able to eventually afford a housekeeper. That was quaint LOL.)

A relief for Wayne, who has grown tired of the commute (I realize our Tallahassee commutes are *nothing* compared to an Atlanta or NYC situation, but still — I respect his feelings on the topic. I work from home, so it doesn’t matter to me.

It’s a relief, yet it’s also a bittersweet goodbye.

Moving: What a relief

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” (But I can’t resist spell checking, as you can imagine.) 

At loose ends about my hairstylist

Apps make appointment-setting easier. Take StyleSeat, for example. My last two stylists have used StyleSeat, which allows you to schedule hair appointments at any time of the night or day without having to say a word or interact with another human being.

Unfortunately, although there may be an app for discontinuing your relationship with your stylist, that isn’t the way to go, in my opinion.

A brief history of the past 25 years

Regarding my hair history, the past 25 years is very uneventful for 22 of those years. Once I started going to Bonnie, I stayed. I was with her through both of my children being born, and through her being at three different buildings.

Then she moved to Nashville. Sigh.

At loose ends about my hairstylist

I went to one person right after Bonnie moved to Nashville. She was really nice (we are Facebook friends to this day based on one haircut), but from a hair perspective, it just wasn’t a great fit.

The next person I went to, I stayed with. I don’t recall how we got connected exactly, except that my daughter had used her.

We’ve been together roughly 2.5 years. We have had so many good conversations. We had enough people in common that we never ran out of things to discuss. She was with me through the death of my father-in-law and the death of my mom, through the years of freelancing until I got my full-time job. She recently showed extreme patience while trying to cut my hair as I juggled a small work issue that required an immediate response. Yes, I was that obnoxious person moving my head to exactly the wrong angle (for her) as I tried to deal with the work issue (for me).

Yet, I never got to the point that I walked out loving my haircut.

In December, I had an appointment with my usual stylist, but I had to cancel it because a work meeting came up.

By the time I tried to reschedule, she couldn’t fit me in. I desperately needed a haircut before leaving for D.C. to spend a couple of days at my work HQ and attend its holiday party. Going with shaggy hair was not an option.

I posted my dilemma to Facebook, and got several great recommendations. My friend, Mike (check out his pedicab business if you’re local to Tallahassee!), tagged Chop Barbershops as one of the options.

Chop Barbershop wasn’t high on my list as an alternative. However, I had been to one of their three locations last summer when I reviewed “Musicals on the Move.” Chop Barbershop was the location of the “Sweeney Todd” component of the event, so I got a glimpse of their environment and figured out that these people must be pretty open to fun (although “Sweeney Todd” probably deserves other adjectives than “fun”!).

At loose ends about my hairstylist
Photo credit: Erich D. Martin

I decided to check out Chop’s Eastside location, which was closest to my house. I discovered that I could book via their website and still not have to pick up a phone, so I persevered. I figured out who had availability that day. Then I looked at Instagram to explore the work of various stylists.

That’s how I ended up being Sean‘s client.

When I arrived for my appointment, I explained my situation — that I had a business trip coming up and needed a cut, but had been unable to use my regular stylists. I also explained the things I hadn’t been entirely happy with about my cuts in the couple of years I had been with her and showed him a picture of a time when my hair looked great.

People, he got it on the first try! There are a few small things that I want him to modify as we continue to work together, but I walked out of there truly happy with my hair for the first time since Bonnie moved to Music City.

(We also had a great talk, always a plus.)

Breaking up is hard to do

Now that I’ve found someone who does for my hair what I want, I needed to figure out what to do about the person I’ve used the last few years.

I don’t feel right ghosting her. There are several reasons for this. One of them is the fact that I love her story. She got a business degree. She may have even gotten a graduate business degree (I don’t recall). But after all that, she said, “I couldn’t turn away from the fact that hair is my passion.” I get that, and I think there’s a lot to be said for finding your professional groove (trust me — it took me until I was 54 to really get there, which doesn’t mean all the years before that were a waste…).

I chatted with a few people on Twitter about this dilemma.

My ever-resourceful friend Rachel shared this “Ask a Stylist” about how to change hairdressers in the least awkward way possible. It’s a good read, with plenty of thoughtful advice. Ultimately, celebrity stylist Mark Townsend recommended honesty.

And that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I just composed a note to her thanking her for the years we spent together and expressing my appreciation for all we’ve shared. As far as the hair, I just said I’ve decided to “go a new direction.”

I know how it has felt at points throughout my career when someone stopped using me with no notice or explanation. Sometimes, the notice and explanation don’t feel good, but they at least eliminate the mystery of not knowing whether my work was inferior or they just truly decided to do something different.

Even though there may be apps for breaking up with your stylist, this situation calls for a more old-school approach. Hence the handwritten note.

It’s a note that may not technically be necessary in this situation, but it’s the right thing to do to avoid leaving loose ends.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

You can write more than 1,000 blog posts spanning a decade and still be surprised at which posts perform well and which don’t.

I’m sharing my top 12 posts of 2019 here, but two posts I wrote in earlier years, 10 Lessons from Lumosity and 6 Ways Our Marriage Resembles a Tree, still performed best. (They finally knocked out Get Groovy with Hippie Juice: Cocktail Recipes for Spring, which held the top spot for a long time!)

Remembering Mia

I am so thrilled that this post got the most views in 2019. I wish I hadn’t had to write it at all, but I love how so many people who loved Mia and her parents gathered around, in real life and here in the cyberworld, to support this family and help more hospitals get Cuddle Cots.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Ration Challenge 2019: How Eating Less Taught Me More

Not only did participating in the Ration Challenge help me raise $634.14 for Church World Service and its efforts to help refugees, but it also helped me kick the caffeine and artificially-sweetened soda habit. I’m still waiting for flavored sparkling water to still taste like — something — but I’m healthier for the effort.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

3 Commercials That Don’t Make Sense

I guess writing about causes is *really* my favorite, but this type of writing is the most fun to me. I like trying to make sense of the world, and my blog is a main way I do that. If you didn’t watch the “Failing” video before, I highly recommend it. It’s so much better than the nonsensical commercial starring the same actress.

Guest Post: Being Your Own Medical Advocate

I’m so excited that this guest post by Hannah of Feeding Tube Fitness, who I met through a friend, was my fourth most viewed post of the year. Learning to advocate for yourself in a medical setting is challenging, and Hannah gives great advice. She’s also exceptionally fun and motivating on Instagram, so follow her!

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

The Surprise of Early Menopause

I really enjoyed participating in this AARP Disrupt Aging campaign to help dispel myths about menopause. I’m sure one of the reasons it did well is because those of us participating in the campaign supported each other by sharing. It’s one of the reasons I love doing blog campaigns!

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Should Office Plants be Banned?

If we didn’t have cats who like to nibble on (and knock over/vomit up) plants, I could have whatever “office” plants I want since I work from home. As this blog explored, a proposed ban on office plants by the State of Florida branched out into an uproar (of sorts). It was also yet another example of how there is often more to the story with questions like this.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Aging is Not a Hammer

I’m glad I started out the year advocating for people to see aging as a positive thing. I feel young at heart almost every day, and hope I’ll never devalue the importance of the wisdom the years have brought me.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

June News Developments That Made Me Say “WOW”

I’m so excited that this post made the top 12. When I first became an editor at SmartBrief, I wanted a way to share our open positions with people who might be good candidates. The first month, introduced the open positions by talking about my favorite stories that month. I thought I might switch to quarterly at some point, but so far I’ve stayed with monthly and it has been 16 months and I don’t want to change. It’s a good exercise for me every month to think back on what stories meant the most, and I like giving my partners a little extra social media boost by linking to them.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

“Be Pretty” and Other Lessons from Mom

This may not have been the post with the most views, but it was a tribute to my mom, so it deserves number one status as far as I’m concerned! Maybe my mom is hanging out with Mia in Heaven, and I can only imagine how happy it would make her to love on a baby girl.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019
This look on her face captures who she was.

3 Tips for Better iPhone Food Photography

I had so much fun and learned so many great tips for taking better food photos from this evening (and tried to summarize them in the blog). Yet — I still take quick pix of my food so I can get to the enjoyment rather than applying most of what I learned. Anyway, any time I hang out with “the other Paula” is a win.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Safety is the Deepest Gift of All

I enjoyed writing this post and I’m glad it did well. But dang it now I’ll have a “Shallow” earworm all night!

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

3 Fabulous Women to Follow on Twitter

This was my response to the #WomenToFollow project developed by Rose Horowitz. Rose is a true champion of women, and I’m glad this post did well.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

I’m linking up this week with Kat Bouska for the prompt “Share your top 12 blog posts from 2019.” And thank you to Vivid Image for their helpful post How to Find Your Most Popular Content Using Google Analytics.

12 posts that rose to the top in 2019

Golden stories for a new year

Golden stories for a new year

Some months, I sit down to compile my post of my favorite SmartBrief stories from the prior month, and I’ve populated the draft post with stories already. (This is my preference, because it makes the final writing a bit easier. A story that merited me taking a moment in the middle of a workday to log in to my blog site and add the link RIGHT THAT MOMENT is a golden story). There have been months when I sat down to write my post and had to start from scratch, either because the prior month was just too busy to jot down the fave stories or because nothing had jumped out to me yet. December was pretty good from that standpoint, because most of my favorite stories were already here when I started to write. It was also just a great month in general. Here’s why.


The beauty of working on business to business newsletters in the nonprofit sector is the huge variety of topics I read about every day. In the case of a story in the December 19 BoardSource newsletter about Sioux Falls Thrive, which is working to identify children and families struggling with food scarcity in Sioux Falls, S.D., and coordinate relief efforts with local nonprofits, the standout sentence was the one that contained a huge amount of common sense in 24 words about one of the Food Security Action Team members:

She recalled visiting a mother during her tenure, who didn’t have access to a can opener, but had a stack of canned goods nearby. 

How many times do we give in order to make ourselves feel we are making a difference, yet not take responsibility to look at the bigger picture and make sure our “help” is actually helping?

Golden stories for a new year

For the top 12 stories in the BoardSource newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

Business Transformation SmartBrief

Over the time I have been editing at SmartBrief, I have said goodbye to being responsible for the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association SmartBrief, the SmartCities SmartBrief and a newsletter for the American Society for Public Administration. I’m sure as time goes on, there will be more changes, and it’s always a bit of a challenge because I get attached to the subjects and the partners.

The newest entry in my lineup, the Business Transformation SmartBrief, will always have the distinction of being my first brief for which I was the initial editor, and for which I was involved in the team that put the brief together for the very first time. The brief covers many areas of business transformation, including environmental, social and governance investing, digital transformation and research related to these topics. I’m excited to be doing it and hope you’ll consider subscribing.

The story that has stayed in my mind the most during the Business Transformation SmartBrief’s first month is one in the December 16 issue about the Mexican chemical company Orbia, which used to be Mexichem. Many parts of this article interested me, but none more than the company’s “living logo.” The logo “changes yearly to reflect how well the company is doing in meeting a series of sustainability and profit goals.” I’m no logo expert, but I tend to see logos as static. It’ll be interesting to see how this idea goes. For what it’s worth, here’s the 2016/2017/2018 version:

Golden stories for a new year

For the top 12 stories in the Business Transformation newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

International City/County Management Association

I had never heard of the Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Ceremony until this year. We discussed the November 28 event held on Alcatraz Island in our December 2 issue. Were these comfortable articles to read about how “Native people were banned from practicing a Sunrise Ceremony” or how “Native Americans call the federal holiday the National Day of Mourning“? They absolutely were not. But city and county managers (and people in general) need to be aware of the perspectives of all within their municipalities, and this piece opened my eyes wide.

The ICMA SmartBrief did not have a “top 12 stories” issue.

National Association of Social Workers

My favorite NASW SmartBrief story of December aligned so well with one of my core beliefs in general: that reading makes us all better at what we do. In this case, social worker Michael Laird discussed how reading literary fiction had deepened his insight into the human condition.

He talks about “The Box Man” by Kobo Abe, a Japanese novel that explores issues of identity. Laird writes:

As social workers, we can think of the box as a metaphor for escaping shame and the sense that one is different and unaccepted by peers, family members, and the community. 

Golden stories for a new year

For the top 12 stories in the NASW newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

National Emergency Number Association

I fully understand that it’s my role to present the story of my partners from their perspective and to retain objectivity, but in the case of the need for passage of the 911 SAVES Act, which would reclassify dispatchers as “protective service occupation” workers (rather than clerical), I am firmly with the dispatchers.

In the December 17 issue of the Public Safety SmartBrief, we shared how reclassification had not been included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. However, we had an opportunity in a subsequent issue to describe how 38 of the 55 counties in West Virginia have given first responder status to dispatchers (with an effort to seek a statewide designation underway).

The Public Safety SmartBrief did not have a “top 12 stories” issue.

Reserve Officers Association

Unless you were under a rock in December, you’ll recall that Giving Tuesday took place on December 3. Three military spouses, including the National Guard Military Spouse of the Year, organized a Giving Tuesday campaign that had a slightly different twist from all the Giving Tuesday initiatives focused on raising funds. It sought to reach 1 million acts of kindness. We talked about this in the December 2 ROA SmartBrief.

“I truly believe in the power of kindness and that it can save lives,” said Jessica Manfre.

Me too, Jessica.

For the top 12 stories in the ROA newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society

Just imagine being a humble citizen scientist whose passion and hard work lead NASA to credit you in a tweet. I mean … just imagine!

That’s exactly what happened for Shanmuga Subramanian. In the December 4 issue of the Sigma Xi SmartBrief, we shared the story of how Subramanian’s analysis of a NASA image of the Vikram lander’s debris field on the moon led to NASA confirming its crash site.

Golden stories for a new year

I simply love this vindication of doing what you love to do; that by doing so, you sometimes earn proper recognition.

For the top 12 stories in the Sigma Xi newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

United Nations Foundation

Every UN Wire SmartBrief has 14 items. Three days a week, 14 items, and a high proportion of these items address refugee issues. One story about refugees in the December 18 newsletter that covered the Global Refugee Forum featured a woman who left Syria and became a refugee in 2013 when someone shot a gun into her car. She discussed how education and job assistance do help refugees. However, she noted the more difficult shadow of racism and stigma.

“Becoming a refugee doesn’t change who you are,” she said. “I am still the same woman.”

For the top 12 stories in the UN Wire newsletter from SmartBrief in 2019, please visit this link.

A visit to HQ

Another reason December was “golden” was my opportunity to visit our Washington, D.C., headquarters. This was my first visit since we were purchased by Future plc. I got to see some of the cosmetic changes (more Future red, for example).

Golden stories for a new year

I also got to squeeze in a visit to the National Christmas Tree the night I arrived.

Golden stories for a new year

The most delightful part, though, was spending time with my colleagues. I love remote worker life, but I also truly enjoy my coworkers. I’m so grateful for two days with them.

Employment opportunities at SmartBrief and Future

If you’d like to discover your own “golden stories” as part of SmartBrief (or our parent company, Future plc), this is your section.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here, which may help answer any questions you have. As always, I’m happy to answer questions and provide more information about the process.

Open positions at SmartBrief and Future plc can be found at this link.

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

This video gives a quick summary of our 2019 at SmartBrief. I have learned so much and dealt with so many interesting people. I’m looking forward to more golden opportunities in 2020.

A Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us at the site of our parent company, Future; on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram.

I’m linking this post up at Kat Bouska’s blog for the prompt, “Write a blog post inspired by GOLD.”

Golden stories for a new year

*Note: My opinions about the stories are my personal viewpoint; they do not reflect an endorsement by my employer.

Please don’t call me Karen

People show disrespect for others in many ways.

In 2019, discord among people has reached new lows.

There were the horrific tragedies such as the 41 US mass killings in which 210 people died. Children are still being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

To shift from the obvious and massive examples to the (possibly) trivial, can we talk about what we call each other?

At the risk of earning an “OK Boomer” from you, can I just ask that you call me (and every other human being) by the name they want?

Please don’t call me “Karen,” to my face or behind my back.

“Karen” has become the go-to for anytime a white woman loses touch with her common sense and perspective and seeks out the manager.

Please don't call me Karen

Here’s Dictionary.com’s take:

Karen is a mocking slang term for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman. Especially as featured in memes, Karen is generally stereotyped as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands, and being a nagging, often divorced mother from Generation X.

There’s an assumption (often deserved, sadly), that a “Karen” action reeks of white privilege.

“Karens” ask for the manager when their food is lukewarm, when their tea is not sweet enough, when their perfect angels (children) are chastised when they are behaving in a way that endangers others, etc. (There are examples at Comic Sands, on Quora and on Reddit.) It’s possible the proportion of “Karens” rushing to get the grocery divider down rapidly is higher than the general population.

Although the woman referenced here and here really is named Karen, the letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun about how Lamar Jackson should have donated to a charity rather than giving his offensive linemen Rolexes, along with its Karen-generating headlines, seems to be part of the Karen-verse. (Note: Among his charitable activities is Jackson’s $25,000 gift to the Blessings in a Backpack program last year.)

Please don't call me Karen

Here’s the thing. “Karen” behavior is egregious (usually — but also in this day and age when customer services has gotten so marginal, we all find ourselves in infuriating situations that are prone to bring out our inner Karens).

But cramming every middle-aged white woman with a bad haircut and a Volvo into the tiny compartment of a joke name only hurts us all.

Please don't call me Karen

Karen Cyphers Breaks it Down

This piece by Karen Cyphers (yes, she really is named Karen) is the one I wish I had written, to be honest. I love the way she delineates the history of this usage of “Karen” and ties in some research that tries to figure out if Karens really do get more aggravated than Dorothys, Janes and Marys.

Sarah Miller Tries to Break it Down

I didn’t love this piece as much (note the paywall, by the way), because of all the stereotypes and assumptions. “Karens are going to Karen. They are unstoppable. All they see are open doors. We should blame the Karens, but maybe we should blame the doors too?”

Names are More than Names

I wouldn’t call a black woman “Nia” (a relatively common name for black women) just because I didn’t have the mental dexterity to try to find out her correct name. If I had an issue with a black woman (or a woman of any ethnicity), I would hopefully have the good sense to try to resolve it using old-fashioned conflict resolution skills (while calling them by the right name).

The big conflicts in our society, I think, often have their seeds in the small choices we make.

If we don’t respect each other enough to call each other the right thing and refrain from stooping to stereotypes and memes, it’s possible we have already lost the battle.

What are printer brownies?

I am a pretty literal thinker.

Last holiday season, a colleague who works remote (vs. my organization’s brick-and-mortar office) and I were talking about the unique parts of being a remote worker. She said, “Even though I’m not in the office, when someone says there are brownies by the printer, I still look.”


That’s how printer brownies were born at my office last year. (I shared them in our Slack channel for remote workers.)

What are printer brownies?

But 2019 calls for something more (plus I wanted to make brownies and Santa is craving brownies with his milk Christmas Eve night). Therefore, I added a task to my list for tonight.

What are printer brownies?

Why does it matter to serve “printer brownies”? It matters because 30% of US workers work remotely full-time (according to Owl Labs). Telecommuting is growing, with FlexJobs reporting a 22% increase in people working remotely between 2017 and 2018. Despite this growth, Owl Labs reported that “38% of remote workers and 15% of remote managers received no training on how to work remotely.”

There are lots more stats to show how much remote work is growing and the uneven nature of how people learn to work remotely. I had never worked remote until I started a several-year period of freelancing in 2014. Then when I got my current job (at a place where I had been freelancing), I was officially a full-time remote worker.

Of all the things I’ve learned about remote work (which are almost exclusively self-taught and not lessons I always learned well the first time), the biggest one is that connection matters whether you sit across from each other in a physical office or you only ever chat digitally with someone thousands of miles away.

That’s why when someone looks for the brownies by the printer, I try to help them feel more connected than disappointed.

What are printer brownies?

I’m linking this post up at Kat Bouska’s blog for the prompt, ” Write a blog post inspired by the word ‘task.'”


What leaders can do

“… everyone is employed for the things they can do, no one is employed for the things they can’t do.”

I read this quote in Leadership Lessons In The Age Of Technology by Sophia Matveeva, and I felt like a little beacon was shining out from the page, a little beacon generated by all the truth in that statement by Clive Punter of Outfront Media.

In her article, Matveeva asserts that “good leadership remains the domain of humans” amid a world worried about artificial intelligence taking over. For the record, I agree with her.

She also encourages readers to share the leadership lessons they’ve learned in their organizations.

They’re not necessarily from my current organization, but here are three leadership lessons that are on my mind. Although they’re not from my current organization specifically, they are informed by the fact that I started a second career after two decades in an entirely different industry. My current situation is also different because my first career was at a place where I was literally at its inception. In my current career, the organization had existed for 17 years before I arrived, so I don’t know every single development over its evolution (although I made it my business to try to figure out as much of it as possible).

Be a person others can trust

When someone can trust you, whether it be a subordinate, a peer or someone higher on the org chart than you, the benefit is that you gain a deeper understanding of interpersonal dynamics and organizational goings-on than you would otherwise.

Nothing erodes team unity like unauthorized sharing of others’ information. Nothing cements it like knowing personal concerns can be shared in confidence and sensitive organizational developments will stay protected until the time is right to see the light of day.

Don’t rely on digital communications

This is one thing that has really been on my mind in this new career. So much communication is handled through email and Slack. I know that comes with the territory in 2019. However, it’s so easy for intent to get lost in translation or misinterpreted.

I had a coworker in my previous career who was extremely terse in her email responses. (I don’t know where along the line in my career I heard “if an email has grown to 10 in the thread, it’s time to pick up the phone,” but it’s true and even 10 may be too much.) I got to the point with her that I would pick up the phone and address whatever the question was. Why did we take so long to get to the “real talking” point?

My current job is the first full-time job I’ve had that is a hybrid (a physical headquarters office with many of us being remote workers). I started as a freelancer, communicating almost exclusively via Slack and email (with the exception of a few phone calls with my coordinator).

As a full-time employee, I still interact with everyone mostly via Slack and email, but now there are video conferences as well, and the occasional in-person meeting. I have become a big believer in the power of meeting your co-workers in real life when possible, at least briefly. It just makes a difference to have looked someone in the eyes at some point and spent social time together.

I also always let the freelancers working on my newsletters know I am available via phone or Skype if they prefer that to Slack/email. No one has ever taken me up on that, but I hope it gives them some reassurance that it’s an option.

Leave room for the unspoken priorities

I often think back on the time I was given a lateral transfer at my previous organization that led me to report to a friend, and to no longer have any direct reports. I was a different subordinate after I had been a supervisor.

I had a new appreciation for the pressures an organization’s leaders face that may lead them to make inscrutable decisions.

When I learned in July that my current employer had been purchased, that put some developments in the preceding few months in better context. They were developments that didn’t seem obviously necessary or productive at the time, but they contributed to the adjustments my organization needed to make to prepare for an acquisition. I’m not advising people to avoid being inquisitive, but there’s a difference between being inquisitive and being resistant to change that doesn’t make obvious sense.

Be an encourager

Let’s get back to Clive Punter and the idea that “everyone is employed for the things they can do, no one is employed for the things they can’t do.”

I struggle hard with being critical of myself. My mind has been preoccupied over the past week with an error or two I made that I could have avoided had I slowed down, been more careful, approached things more methodically. I didn’t give the things I had done well equal time.

When I read Punter’s quote, I thought of those things I was frustrated about. I reminded myself about the things I can do, that I do especially well. I had a freelancer thank me for the way I keep them in the loop. I coordinated our afternoon publication three out of five days last week on top of traveling to DC. I kept the balls up in the air that had to be there, and made a solid contribution to putting out a great product.

We need to encourage those around us whose inner monologues are heavier on what they haven’t done right and help them celebrate the ways in which they have been assets. This includes encouraging ourselves.

Leaders are trustworthy. They are direct when they need to be, understand the big picture and encourage.

They do the things they were employed to do.

My boring colonoscopy

With the exception of a bit of diverticulosis, there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about my Nov. 22 colonoscopy.

That’s why I want to share about my experience with the prep and the procedure itself (that part will be extremely brief (thank you, fentanyl and midazolam!)). One in every 20 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer at some point. I figure that would be totally out of the ordinary in every way — uncomfortable, expensive, frustrating and worrisome not to mention possibly fatal — that if I can reassure you regarding the colonoscopy process, I can help you avoid being among the 1 in 20 (or at least catch it early enough to have a better outcome).

I agreed to have a colonoscopy in alignment with the CDC recommendations that people ages 50-75 be screened for colorectal cancer and continue every 10 years after their first.

The prep

It’s absolutely true what they say – the prep is worse than the procedure. There are dietary restrictions for seven days prior to the procedure, as well as the need to adhere to a clear liquid diet the day before.

Here’s what happens when you give a grammar-lover unclear instructions.

My boring colonoscopy

I have to admit I was prepared to avoid seeds and nuts. I did not know about fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, does this mean no raw fruit and no raw vegetables, or does it mean “no vegetables” at all?

I read some other colonoscopy prep diets, which were all stricter than this one, so I decided it meant no raw vegetables. (I know I could have called to clarify — I guess I decided to live dangerously.)

I must have done OK, because my results said, “The quality of the bowel preparation was excellent.” Hooray.


Seeing red

Another thing about the prep period is that you can’t have anything to drink that has red or purple dye.

I wasn’t thinking about that part (hadn’t read it, I don’t think), when I grabbed the bottle of magnesium citrate required as part of the day-prior preparation. Given a choice of “lemon” (clear), and “cherry” (red), I chose my favorite color and flavor. THEN I really reviewed the instructions. It was less than $2, but it’s the principle of the thing! If anyone needs some cherry-flavored magnesium citrate, it’s yours!

Chugging (and chugging and chugging) a gallon of prep drink

Starting at 6 p.m. the night before your colonoscopy (and two hours after drinking the non-red magnesium citrate), there’s the matter of drinking a gallon of GaviLyte-N. The instructions are to drink an 8-oz glass every 15 minutes — downing 2 quarts the night prior to the procedure and 2 more quarts the next day 6 hours before your exam.

My boring colonoscopy

I have to admit, I was down to the wire to finish this the morning of my procedure. The taste wasn’t unmanageable, but neither was it delightful to stuff my otherwise-empty stomach with two gallons of liquid at 5 a.m. I almost gagged getting the last down in time for the cut-off, but I did!

A friend of mine was given pills instead of gallons of solution for her prep, and I think that is worth exploring in the future.

Calories matter the day prior to the procedure

I did not plan nearly well enough to get enough calories during the “clear liquids” day. I had a full day of editing, which in a perfect world involves keeping your brain fueled well enough to put complete sentences together. I had consumed the Gatorades I had bought by around 1 p.m. I had to forgo the chicken broth I had bought because it turned out not to be fat-free. I went through plenty of other things, all zero-calories, and practically pounced on my husband when he arrived home with the calories I had requested (I couldn’t run out to the store because ^^^^ see above re: the gallon of laxative I had just consumed).

Take my advice: Stock up on caloric drinks and fat-free broths for the day prior to your procedure. Then you’ll be able to continue using subjects and verbs effortlessly.

The day of the procedure

There’s nothing remarkable to say about the day of the procedure. I didn’t take many pictures, mainly because I handed my phone over to my husband before getting onto the bed. I did capture this lovely wardrobe item (and I love the saying “you deserve the best”). The nonslip socks were pretty great too.

My boring colonoscopy

There was a funny moment when I approached the bed. It was set REALLY HIGH. It took a few gymnastics to get onto it. The nurse showed up and asked how I got there. I explained that I just figured it out and she said she could have lowered it. Well … yeah…

I did have a brief conversation with the physician, but after that discussion, the nurse upped the sleepytime meds and the next thing I know I was leaving with my husband. Apparently they explained everything to me four times.

I also had to ask Wayne later that night if I had indeed bought grapes when we went to Publix afterward.

Moral of the story: They’re not kidding when they require you to have a driver. Not at all!

The results

My results were pretty unremarkable. As I mentioned, I have some “diverticulosis in the sigmoid colon” but I don’t need to go back for this procedure for 10 (count ’em 10!) years.

Why it matters

Yes, it was inconvenient to do the food/liquid prep. No, I didn’t enjoy the trips to the bathroom that resulted from the prep. No, I don’t remember anything about the procedure itself.

What I do know is that a friend of Wayne’s and mine did not come out of her experience with such a nondescript story. Her colonoscopy resulted in a diagnosis of colon cancer, so she now has to deal with treatment protocols and uncertainty. Another friend had colon cancer in his early 40s. I imagine we all know about Katie Couric losing her first husband to colon cancer. She even went with Jimmy Kimmel for his first colonoscopy!

I doubt Katie Couric will show up at any of our colonoscopies, but I’ll be happy to send you a paper umbrella for your prep (as seen in the video) because this process should be as fun as possible.

I also want you around.

My boring colonoscopy

I’m linking up with Kat Bouska’s blog. The prompt is, “Tell us about something you’re procrastinating on.” I should have gotten my colonoscopy done five years ago when I was 50 — I wasn’t really procrastinating because of anxiety — I just let other things get in the way. Take it from me — there’s really not that much to say about it (unless you’re a blogger trying to make a point).

7 Giving Tuesday causes and a bonus

At the beginning of every month, I share a post about my favorite SmartBrief stories from the prior month (here’s October’s, for example).

I do have favorite stories from November, but I’m changing things up today in honor of Giving Tuesday, which is December 3.

I feel so fortunate that my work at SmartBrief is with nonprofit sector newsletters (although everyone who knows me knows I get pretty attached to everything I do, including tolling and agriculture). Especially as Giving Tuesday rolls around, with its opportunity for so many great causes to discuss what they do and the difference a contribution can make, I decided for this month to share a way each of my partners is connecting on Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday


As stated on their website, BoardSource “supports, trains, and educates nonprofit leaders from across the country and throughout the world.” Donations to BoardSource ” support our research and leadership addressing issues of critical importance to the work of the social sector and the communities and people we seek to serve.”

How to donate: Click here.

Learn more via the BoardSource newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

International City/County Management Association (ICMA)

ICMA’s website describes the organization as “the world’s leading association of professional city and county managers and other employees who serve local governments.” I had the pleasure of attending ICMA’s conference this year, so you can get my perspective here and here.

ICMA has a Future of Professional Management Fund that seeks to “advocate and promote the council-manager form and professional local government management.” Read the 2018 Giving Tuesday post about the fund here and donate here.

Learn more about the ICMA newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

National Association of Social Workers

NASW, according to their website, “works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.”

Contributions to NASW are directed to the NASW Foundation, the NASW Legal Defense Fund and/or its Political Action for Candidate Election efforts. All three have links here.

Learn more about the NASW newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

National Emergency Number Association (NENA)

The NENA website lists its role as being “the only professional organization solely focused on 9-1-1 policy, technology, operations, and education issues.”

NENA’s Gold Line Scholarship Fund seeks to help 9-1-1 professionals obtain training. Donate here.

Learn more about the Public Safety SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Reserve Officers Association (ROA)

ROA describes itself on its website as “only exclusive advocate for the Reserve and National Guard – all ranks, all services”

There are multiple ways to contribute to ROA, including general contributions to its work, donations to its ROA STARs foundation, tribute benches and more. All are accessible by clicking here.

Giving Tuesday
ROA Tribute Bench Photo credit: roa.org

Learn more about the ROA newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society

Sigma Xi says on its website that its purpose is to “honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering.”

Sigma Xi’s Giving Tuesday initiative is what got me started thinking about doing this post for all my partners. I really love it!

Sigma Xi is directing its Giving Tuesday donations to help provide free one-year subscriptions of its STEM magazine, American Scientist, to 1,300 high schools. Here’s the link to contribute.

Learn more about the Sigma Xi newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Giving Tuesday
American Scientist Magazine

United Nations Foundation

The United Nations Foundation expresses its purpose via its website this way: “We work by building communities and incubating initiatives to support the UN and its priority issues, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

I am sure the UN Foundation will have plenty of Giving Tuesday options, but to take a moment of personal privilege, I will first list Shot at Life. Shot at Life is a grassroots advocacy program under the UN Foundation umbrella that helps children around the world have access to immunizations to protect them from polio, measles, pneumonia, rotavirus and other vaccine-preventable diseases. I’ve been involved with them for years. The World Health Organization notes several key improvements in getting children worldwide vaccinated, but says ” an estimated 19.4 million infants worldwide were not reached with routine immunization services such as 3 doses of DTP vaccine” in 2018.

Giving Tuesday

Contribute to Shot at life by clicking here. Contribute to the UN Foundation in general by clicking here. Another incredibly meaningful option is giving in memory of the late Jennifer Schlecht, who worked for the UN Foundation, during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

To learn more about the UN Foundation newsletter from SmartBrief: Subscribe here.

Food & Friends

Food & Friends is a cause that SmartBrief has supported for years (I’m not sure how many, but since I started there in 2017). For that reason, I want to give them a shout out because I have come to appreciate their work and I feel a personal investment.

The Food & Friends premise is “anyone can get sick and everyone can help.” Their services include home-delivered meals, groceries-to-go and nutrition counseling.

Contribute to the work of Food & Friends by clicking here.

It’s relevant to talk about Giving Tuesday and provide this boost to these eight great causes because there are programs such as the $7 million Facebook plans to match that are specific to the day. (I also urge you to read up on how quickly those matching funds go … a great case study of the challenges nonprofits face.)

And while we’re here …

I am staying with one of my monthly traditions, which is sharing our open positions.

wrote in more detail about my experience as a SmartBrief employee here, which may help answer any questions you have. As always, I’m happy to answer questions and provide more information about the process.

Here are the advertised open positions at SmartBrief as of 12/1/19:

(There are other opportunities with our parent company, Future plc, that are not specific to SmartBrief and are located in multiple places. Find all openings here.)

If you are interested in applying, please list me as your referrer or email me so we can discuss further.

A Recap

To subscribe to one (or more) SmartBrief newsletters, including the “end of the work day” While You Were Working, for which I am a contributing editor, click here.

If you aren’t in a subscribing mood, you can still keep up with us at the site of our parent company, Future; on FacebookSmartBrief TwitterLeadership SmartBrief TwitterLinkedIn and SmartBrief Instagram.

Grateful Challenge 2019

It’s year six of my taking the Grateful Challenge! Inspired by Spin Sucks, the goal is to set a timer for 10 minutes and try to list 99 things you’re grateful for. (Here are the previous installments: 2018, 2017201620152014.)

Grateful Challenge 2019

This year’s installment:

1.My husband, Wayne

2.My daughter, Tenley

3.My son, Wayne Kevin

4.My dad, Seabie

5.Tenley’s significant other, Stewart

6.Wayne Kevin’s significant other, Patience

7.Wayne Kevin having an affordable, safe place to live in Daytona

8.Tenley having an affordable, safe place to live in Valdosta

9.Wayne’s job

10.Tenley’s graduate school and how goal-directed she is

11.Wayne Kevin’s job

12.MY job — the one I love <3

13.Having a fantastic supervisor

14.Having great co-workers

15.Having a job in editing, so ironic since it took me until midlife to be here (although everything happens for a reason, for sure)

16.Extended family

17.My new nephew, Paul


19.My friend Dan — such a dear friend, seen not often enough

20.Two trips to DC this year

21.A trip to NYC this year ( 🙂 )

Grateful Challenge 2019

22.My SmartBrief partners — the International City/County Management Association (the other six to follow)

23.The Sigma Xi Scientific Honorary Society

24.The National Association of Social Workers

25. The United Nations Foundation


27.The National Emergency Number Association

28.The Reserve Officers Association

29.A new brief I get to work on soon: Business Transformation

30.My previous partner (among others): The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association

31.Everything I’ve learned and gained by blogging for 10 years

32.The online community, which has lifted me up, supported me, irritated me (at times) and been more supportive than the word “online” would make you think

33.Parents who provided financial help over the years

34.My mom’s life

35.Our new realtor

36.The buyer of our house (no, don’t know who they are yet but they have to be out there!)

37.Live theatre

38.Seeing “Come from Away” in New York in January

39.Seeing Sara Bareilles in “Waitress” in New York in January

40.The New York Times Readalong Community

41. BroadwayWorld and review opportunities

42.Randi at the Democrat who has given me such great (tough) feedback about my Democrat reviews and still plans to let me review


44.The Spin Sucks crew (where to begin?)

45.Time with Gini Dietrich in July watching Hugh Jackman *live*

46.Laura Petrolino and how she gets me

47.Having a paid-off car (even though it doesn’t have air conditioning)

48.Not that I’m self-promoting exactly, but I’m proud of each video I made for SmartBrief and enjoyed the process. Here they are:

49.Libraries and social work

50.The 911 SAVES Act

51.Recharge your batteries by subscribing to the ICMA newsletter

52.This blog post I wrote about Hurricane Michael and kids having playgroups that helped them find hope again

53.This blog post about my favorite moments at the ICMA conference

54.Getting to meet Jake Wood of Team Rubicon at the ICMA conference

Grateful Challenge 2019

55.Turning 55 tomorrow!

56.Helping with social media for the Turkey Trot and getting to participate in the Turkey Trot tomorrow — I can’t run it anymore but I’ll be there!

57.A clean bill of health after my colonoscopy

58.The Ration Challenge

59.Getting off of caffeine due to the ration challenge

60.My faith

61.The life of my friend, Duane, who died last Saturday. He taught me so much; he’s gone too soon. I will always love you, Duane.

Grateful Challenge 2019
At “Fiddler on the Roof.” I was the audience; he was the star. 🙂

In keeping with the spirit of the challenge, I stopped at the 10-minute mark. I left all the blank numbers in, because I know are 38 more things for which I can be grateful. Here’s to filling in these blanks …