STRONG (FMF31 2019 Day 19)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: STRONG

I end up reading about Darren Walker, CEO of the Ford Foundation, pretty often. I edit the BoardSource newsletter, which is geared toward nonprofit boards of directors, for SmartBrief, and he’s a pretty big deal in those circles.

Yesterday, I was reading a piece he wrote that discussed a new vision for capitalism in a world where there is so much inequity, financial and otherwise. Walker was talking about a prominent businessman, and the man’s contention that the companies where his organization invests must create long-term value in the world.

Walker wrote, “I hope that BlackRock’s [the business he was referencing] strong words will be met with equally strong action.”

Isn’t that the disconnect we often encounter? We can create a need for strong action by uttering strong words “I am going to do my part to change that situation,” for example. Conversely, we probably undertake strong action sometimes without having thought about our rationale.

But sticking with the fact that our strong words are not always met with strong action, I think that somehow gets at one of society’s challenges today. We can retweet a tweet about a cause in the hopes of raising awareness. And such awareness is good, because it may encourage/inspire someone else.

But it is in taking strong action that I suspect we stand to make a bigger difference.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

ACTIVE (FMF31 2019 Day 18)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: ACTIVE

I’m not sure if this prompt response is going to be among my most coherent, because I am incapable of turning off the first #AllWomanSpacewalk that is being livestreamed right now.

The two astronauts are active in space right this second, following instructions given to them from ground control.

Some of the responses on Twitter have been (due to the nature of commenting on Twitter) less than encouraging.

“It’s a shame this has to be news” (I don’t disagree!)

There’s also quite a bit of snark about NASA’s mission.

I’m also annoyed that I woke up early to catch this, and then still managed to miss the beginning (because I was still on the NASA channel where they had broadcast a news conference in advance of the walk).

But I’m here now, writing and listening.

I love all things space, and have had the opportunity to participate in NASA Socials three times. I love the challenge of trying to explain the scientific content to my fellow laypeople.

This is also reminding me of Mike Massimino’s book, where he discussed his own spacewalk as he repaired the Hubble Telescope. I gained a whole new appreciation for the intense preparation the astronauts go through, and how many things can go wrong (hence the intense preparation).

One thing about this spacewalk that sort of coincides with our spiritual journeys is the necessity of trusting the instructions you’re given. Ground control is telling them commands they have to follow, some of which don’t make sense when the astronauts are doing their work outside the International Space Station, in the dark.

We can’t always trust ourselves and our instincts, and knowing when to bring in someone who has our best interests at heart (and much more information to work with) can be key to our safety.

**Note: If this seems long for five minutes, it’s because I messed up the timer somehow. I finally looked at it when it seemed like this had taken longer than five minutes, and sure enough the mark had come and gone. Maybe I just need to concentrate on the astronauts today!

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

CONSISTENT (FMF31 2019 Day 17)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: CONSISTENT

“At least you (or I, or they, or she/he) are consistent.”

This is something I say in jest … um … “consistently.”

It’s usually after someone has said something relatively self-deprecating, like “I was five minutes late to work again today.”

“At least you’re consistent.”

Even though I say it relatively in jest, I do find consistency to be a huge asset.

Maybe I’m trying to wrap being change-averse and habit-bound into a pretty package, but I know what a difference consistent people make in my life. Especially once I had kids, I came to appreciate even more how much I appreciated the consistent people in their lives.

On the flip side, is it boring to be consistent? Am I missing something by not being more spontaneous?

I suppose there’s a balance here — consistency in the way we present ourselves professionally and among the people in our lives who count on us.

But if I daydream about some less-than-consistent choices, I think I would find myself taking an unplanned road trip on a weekend (once my car woes are settled). Possibly eating somewhere new. I have a $25 gift certificate to a favorite coffee place that I still haven’t managed to use.

Maybe it’s time to set up a somewhat spontaneous coffee date with people who count on me to be consistent the rest of the time.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

AVOID (FMF31 2019 Day 16)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: AVOID

I am developing a whole little sub-genre here on my blog of posts about “I made an error at work today and am coming to terms that we are all human.” Errors are unavoidable, I know. And I would tell any other individual (mostly) to give themselves grace, but it sure is challenging to do the same for ourselves.

Obviously, there are myriad other choices I could have made for the prompt “avoid,” but this situation is fresh in my mind and they always say “write what you know,” don’t they?

When I discovered the problem, which wasn’t a typo and wasn’t a death knell, I had a choice — let it pass and see if the client noticed (because a reader wouldn’t have known) — or be proactive and tell the client right away.

I told the client right away (which is what I always do), with no small amount of self-recrimination. When I want to be self-deprecating among my co-workers (which, let’s admit, is often because that’s how I am), I usually say something along the lines of “What do I know? I’m a home ec major.” It is not lost on me that in a time of severe cutbacks in the publishing world, I have been given an opportunity to do something that others do so well and would probably want the opportunity to try.

I also worked for 20 years in a quasi-governmental space, so it’s a whole different world working at a for-profit venture.

I’m going to go with the idea that being upfront when something didn’t go right is better for the bottom line than avoiding discussions about what needs to change.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

OPEN (FMF31 2019 Day 15)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: OPEN

I just happened to catch the story out of the corner of my eye yesterday as I was preparing to go to “live TV” on CNN. The headline was something like “Hamilton star mourns.”

I did not know anything about Miguel Cervantes, who is starring as Alexander Hamilton in the show’s Chicago run right now. I did after reading the story. His 3-year-old daughter died from an extreme form of childhood epilepsy.

I went down the rabbit hole — to his Instagram, which led me to his wife’s Instagram, which led me to her blog.

It’s easy to think being so accomplished in theater must be some kind of golden ticket. Good money, lots of notoriety, a fan base, work you love.

And I wonder how he mustered the energy and concentration eight times a week to play his role, given the challenges faced by his daughter and the rest of his family.

I also read that he and his wife lost a baby between their son being born and this daughter’s birth. The baby had a serious deformity in utero and she shares her story of their choice here.

How do you go through so much pain and remain open to sharing so much of yourself with the world, as he does via acting and she does through her blog and social media presence?

I am at a loss to know how, but something about the way this family has conducted itself gives me hope and empathy.

Their daughter’s life touched us all. Her name was Adelaide.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

VOICE (FMF31 2019 Day 14)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: VOICE

I have friends whose daughter has had a breathing tube since she was born late last year. Having the breathing tube in means they can’t hear her voice.

She’s having surgery next month during which she’ll get a “speaking valve” that attaches to the breathing tube to enable her to vocalize.

Of course if it saved your child’s life, you would forgo hearing them cry or vocalize, but the mom has said on social media (because the baby has her own page — maybe that’s her way of having a voice) how badly she yearns to hear the baby’s voice.

I get that (as much as someone who hasn’t been in that situation can get it).

The voices of our loved ones matter.

When I was a summer missionary long, long ago, one of my peers had laryngitis and couldn’t talk. She asked me to talk to her family. I did, and relayed messages back and forth.

Why it didn’t occur to me that she would like to hear their voices I don’t know, but she looked pretty crestfallen when I hung up and hadn’t put the phone up to her ear so she could hear their voices (this was long before texting/facetiming/emailing were options — it was a bit of a production to make a long-distance call).

I read up a little bit about the valve that allows an infant with a breathing tube to speak, and it’s a bit complex. It involves more training for the baby’s caregivers (as if they haven’t had enough over almost a year of having a medically complex child).

But they won’t be crestfallen to hear her voice. Quite the opposite.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

FIRST (FMF31 2019 Day 12)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: FIRST

You would think I would learn. After pretty much a lifetime of being everyone’s proofreader — and now having a job as a bona fide editor — I should put the final proofing touches on a document rather than assuming I can say to someone, “I still have to do my final proofing but here’s the idea.”

I know this is a bit cryptic, but hopefully you get the picture. I sent a document to someone in my work world this week because they wanted to get a general sense of it before providing their piece. I sent it, with the caveat of “I still have to do a final proofing, but here’s the draft.”

Of course the other individual did exactly what I probably would have done — sent it back with the cyber-equivalent of red proofing marks. That individual was 100% right, but it was embarrassing.

The back-and-forth also introduced a question that person had that opened up a small can of worms. It was resolved, but not without a few more emails and a bit of angst on my part.

I didn’t think I had time to proofread first, but I spent three times as much effort to do damage control because I shared the document before it was really ready.

I imagine part of the point here is that no one is perfect, that it did get handled, that we can paralyze ourselves with the fear of something not being right to the point that we don’t get our jobs done. Of course that point is valid too.

I just know I learned my lesson about this specific situation. I have to put a bow on it before I send what I’ve written. Otherwise, the gift gets a little banged up in the “mail.”

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

DEEP (FMF31 2019 Day 11)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: DEEP

There are so many “commemorative days” lately. Apple pie day, selfie day, best friends day … the list is endless.

Today is #DayOfTheGirl and #NationalComingOutDay. It’s probably many other “special” days as well, but these two are on my personal and professional radar screen at a prominent place.

I posted a picture taken in 2011 when my daughter, Tenley, and I went to Guatemala with Unbound (with was Christian Foundation for Children and Aging at the time). We first met Estela there. She’s a girl (a young woman now all these years later) who we sponsor. Our monthly contribution helps her large family with expenses related to food, clothing, education — whatever they need in a country where work and sustenance are inconsistent.

Our relationship with Estela is proof that you can deeply love someone you’ve only met once (and we would love her if we had only ever seen a picture — it is a true blessing that we got to meet her and her family in person.

For National Coming Out Day, I’m reading account after account among my friends about the deep self-evaluation they did before deciding to talk with their friends and family about being gay. (Or about the deep self-evaluation they’re still doing as they try to decide what to do.) I feel strongly about supporting these people in their walk. If life has taught me anything, it is that their orientation is not about me.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

SCARED (FMF31 2019 Day 10)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: SCARED

How often was Sandeep Dhaliwal scared during his service as a deputy with Houston’s Sheriff’s Department?

Dhaliwal was killed in the line of duty last month, shot in the back.

He joined the department after there had been tension between the Sikh community in Houston and law enforcement. A speaker came to their place of worship and essentially said, “the best way to change things is from the inside.”

Dhaliwal left behind a career as a truck driver and, I think, a pizza store owner, to answer what he felt was his call: to change things from the inside.

I also heard that at first he didn’t wear his turban or beard. When the rules were changed that made it possible, his superior officer said he didn’t have to do it — that it would single him out.

But Dhaliwal wanted the Sikh community to know they had a friend in law enforcement.

Everything I read and watched reflected what a great man he was — helpful to his community and his peers, generous, patient. His sister talks more about him here:

I try to imagine what it must be like to be a law enforcement officer these days, even without the added burden of being a trailblazer for an entire group of people. I don’t imagine Houston is the easiest place to look so different.

I know I would be scared every. single. day.

Whatever Sandeep Dhaliwal felt, he served us all. I am grateful for his example.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes

JOIN (FMF31 2019 Day 9)

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2019 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: JOIN

I am a joiner. This has become more and more apparent the older I have gotten.

I know this may sound contradictory, since I recharge best by being alone, but having an affiliation with a group matters deeply to me.

I realize, now that I work full-time for one place again (instead of freelancing for multiple places at once), that my psyche is so much more geared toward belonging.

That’s not to say that the places where I freelanced (including the place where I now work full-time) went out of their way to alienate me. Not at all.

But as a freelancer, there is always, by nature of the arrangement, a sense of being on the outside looking in.

I kind of joke around with my current employer that the main reason I wanted to be full-time was so I could hear what was going on in the “random” channel on Slack. (That’s where people chat about whatever they want to talk about (within reason) rather than work topics). As a freelancer, you were limited to the “general” channel. OH THE FOMO. (But I am kidding — I wanted to work full-time because I love the work we do and needed the income — by the time the full-time opening was available, I no longer was obligated to deal with my father-in-law’s needs as he had passed away, so I could turn myself to working more hours.)

The act of joining was anything but random for me.

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes