Kindness

I was recently scrolling through Linkedin and I saw a post my son wrote. The beginning of the post went like this:

Kindness is vastly underrated.

I see so much negativity online and in the world, and so I understand how easy it is to become bitter or jaded. However, the best antidote to hate is love and kindness is an emergent property of an unconditional love and respect for humanity.

A gift of Kindness

As a person who is a big fan of kindness, this made my heart happy. It is easy to forget the people behind posts are just people. It is easy to get annoyed or mad. It should be easy to be kind.

The pillow above was a gift from a program manager at the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation. I spoke at a conference about how I thought it was cool to be kind, and the next day he found me and gave me this pillow. It sits prominently in my library as a reminder.

The other day I was really frustrated with someone and I told a friend “I just hate her right now”. Her response was so perfect. She said “Don’t hate, that is not who you are.” Wham that silenced me for a moment.

So I say all of that to say this- the best way for us to be kind to ourselves is to be kind to one another. 💕

Acknowledgement

A Note I Received Yesterday

I am not the type of person who seeks recognition. I love to be behind the scenes connecting dots, scheming and dreaming (Z- I miss this with you!) and coordinating efforts. That often times means that I just do what I do and move from one thing to the next.

I am very goal-oriented and self-motivated, but once in awhile it is good to have someone just say “I appreciate you.” Yesterday, I was moved to tears twice which is not unusual, I am actually secretly a sap, but it was really special because I was able to see the culmination of several years of work turn into something positive.

The first thing that moved me to tears was a simple text that said “I can’t thank you enough.” It was from someone I had connected with several years ago around a shared advisory board. He has since that time become very dear to me and I have been fortunate to work closely with him on a project that became very real yesterday as we saw what it will look like when it rolls out. A simple response to a Facebook post turned into a journey that has led us to where we are (to be announced soon). He has done a ton of the work along with a great group of advisors, but I was able to open some doors to make it all happen. His acknowledgement in that moment, made it even more special.

The other acknowledgment came from a note I received from a former employee. In her note, she thanked me for pushing her out of her comfort zone both personally and professionally. She is now embarking on a new venture and will benefit, I hope, from our time together. It was a simple gesture, but it had so much meaning for me.

I just want to encourage you to encourage others. Simple notes, texts, and thank yous can go along way to keep people motivated and feeling appreciated. It certainly did for me.

Leadership & the Great Resignation

I have learned so much from bad bosses*. Let me clarify, I have learned how not to lead from managers I have had in the past who were not good leaders. I thought I would share a few lessons learned as we are continuing through the great resignation, reshuffling or whatever we call it next.

Some resignations are going to happen for a variety of reasons. Things like retirement, growth, and change of industry may be out of your control. Pay is sometimes a motivator for people to leave, so my suggestion is to pay as well as you can.

Here is my 2 cents for whatever it may be worth:

  1. Don’t take credit for your employee’s work. This just pisses them off and makes them vent about you to other people as they get on the internet an search for a new job. I had one boss, we will call him GQ, who never lifted a finger and got credit for everything I did. He was good at reading reports so he could act like he knew what was going on. When I eventually left, he was at a loss because he was too busy planning his wedding, taking long lunches, and surfing the internet to pay attention to who our clients were and how to keep them happy.
  2. Listen to your employees. I try to be really open to feedback. Sometimes it is not what I want to hear, but I have to appreciate that someone cares enough to help me to be better. I had a boss in a previous job when I worked in Human Resources who was a complete narssicist. He thought he knew everything. I did find it entertaining though, when he would share something I had told him with everyone at the management meeting to educate them on whatever the topic was. So he did hear me. After I left, he had to resign for harassment. You can’t keep everyone out of trouble.
  3. Micromanagers suck. If you have to be in my space all the time asking if I did something, then you are not letting me do my job. The only exception is to manage a new task or process until someone becomes proficient.
  4. Be transparent. Don’t let the grapevine be the source of information. Be as open and honest about things as possible.
  5. Deal with conflict. Not dealing with conflict just creates more conflict and stress. Don’t wait until review time to give feedback.

I do want to give a disclaimer that being a bad boss is not the same as being a bad person. Both GQ and the Narcissist were really fun to hang out with and be around. They just were not good managers. The Narcissist ran a really tight ship and got stuff done, but he caused a lot of grief along the way. GQ was very likeable and had all of the upper management in the company fooled because he could talk the talk, but he couldn’t walk the walk.

If you give employees the freedom to contribute their ideas, help them to reach their personal and professional goals, and give credit where it is due, they are much more likely to stay with you, or if they leave, to leave well.

*Disclaimer- my current workplace is not reflected in any of the people referenced above.

What I Like to Read – Part 3

I am a sucker for a good romance novel. I am a big fan of people in love and stories with happy endings. I secretly cry watching hallmark movies even though they are pretty much all the same story.

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I think I have read pretty much every book by Danielle Steele and I still find myself in tears every time I read one of her books. For me, they are a super easy read and I can get through them in one afternoon or evening.

One book I particularly enjoyed this past year was the Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab. The book combines history with fantasy, and romance, but not in the traditional sense of the word.

Some of the other books I enjoyed were the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library is a fantasy tale of trying again and again until you get it right.

Anything by Nicholas Sparks keeps my heart racing and The Return certainly did not disappoint. Kristin Hannah masterfully weaves romance into her novels and The Great Alone is one of the best of the ones I have read by her.

There are so many authors I have not yet read in this genre because the authors I enjoy have written so many books and I am in the process of reading them all. I hope to add a few new writers to my readings for 2022. I would love to get some suggestions!

What I Like to Read- Part 2

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I actually feel a bit vulnerable sharing my reading list. Like do I really want everyone to know that I enjoy reading psycho-thriller novels? Well I guess you know now.

Some of my favorite authors in this genre are Ruth Ware, B.A. Paris, Rachel Hawkins, and Lisa Jewel. There are a few others including Alex Michaelides, The Maidens, and Silent Patient, where the jury is still out.

I do find some of the books fairly predictable, especially when I have read every book by the author, but I still find them to be enjoyable as I read towards whatever twist there is in the end. I have always been a fan of mysteries and these types of books satisfy some of that intersest.

It is hard to talk about enjoying these types of books because the topics are generally pretty dark, but the twists and turns of the story keep the reader engaged. Being that these books are often on the top of the bestseller lists, I know I am not alone.

Here are some of my favorites, please don’t judge me I do not advocate for any type of violence.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Ruth Ware

The Invisible Girl, Lisa Jewell

The Therapist, B.A. Paris

The Wife Upstairs, Rachel Hawkins

Behind Closed Doors, B.A. Paris- this one was particularly chilling and horrifying all at once.

My next post will be about a lighter topic- Romance Novels.

2022

This year I get to end the year with family and fun New Year’s traditions from around the world. While not every family member is able to join due to COVID, they will be here in spirit.

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Some of our annual traditions include:

SouthEating Hopin’ John
GreeceSet an extra place setting
IrelandBanging bread on Walls
Germany, FinlandMolybdomancy (melting tin)
IsraelThrow bread crumbs in a river to cast out errors
JapanSlurp soba noodles without them breaking
ScandinaviaAlmond in rice pudding
PanamaBurn effigies
Equador, HungryScarecrow Burning, “Jack Straw”
Cuba, Puerto RicoThrow water out the window or back door
ColombiaRun down the street with empty suitcases
ScotlandFlaming Sticks
DenmarkJump Off Chair
ColombiaRun Around Neighborhood with suitcase
SpainEat 12 Grapes
EquadorHide cash around the house
JapanLaugh at Midnight
Mexico, Brazil, BoliviaWear Yellow Underwear
PhillipinesPolka Dots
Italy, DenmarkBreaking Dishes
GermanyWatch “Dinner For One
CelticLight Candle at Dusk and burn through the night
RomaniaWear a Bear
Ireland, Cuba, AustriaEat Pork
MexicoHang a wool lamb from the door
Colorado , New MexicoSing dandos los Dias
Various Latin countriesHandling silver
Netherlands, Mexico, greeceRing Shaped Pasteries
JapanDaruma Dolls
Dollar in Lentils
GreeceHang an Onion over the door and wake your children with it
GreecePlay a gambling card game
Thank you to Debbie Materson for curating this list

Each of these traditions are said to bring luck to those who observe them.

Most importantly, never eat chicken on New Year’s Day. Because it has wings, your good luck can literally fly away.

Avid Reader

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. When I was a child, I remember reading every Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobbsey Twins book as well as many other titles. Book fairs and libraries were such great resources for me. My mom is also a reader and it has certainly been passed on to me.

In the past year I have read over 50 books. When I mentioned that in a post, several people asked for favorites and recommendations. I thought I would use this space to share some of my thoughts.

I like to read multiple books by the same author. Once I find an author I like, i generally will read everything they have written. Libby has become my best friend for ebooks. I also love going to the library. I also like Chirp and Bookbub for finding free and low cost books.

So, starting with my next post, I will share authors and books I have enjoyed over the past year. I would love to hear about authors and books you like as well.

What I Like to Read

I am not sure I should admit it, but I like to read pretty much everything with words. Of course, there are some genres I like better than others, but I just really love to read. That being said, if I don’t like a book from the beginning, I generally will not finish it. This is how I found out I can actually return books to Amazon and Audible (Not that I am encouraging this).

Lately, I have been reading historical fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Marie Benedict, Kristen Hannah, Pam Jenoff, and Jillian Cantor. I recently read several books by Marie Benedict and I liked all but one.

The ones I have read are The Personal Librarian, Carnegie’s Maid, The Only Woman in the Room, and The Other Einstein. I struggled with The Mystery of Mrs. Christie which is about Agatha Christie. I might turn out to be good, but I gave up around chapter 3.

The Personal librarian is a story about J.P. Morgan’s personal librarian Belle da Costa Greene. Born to the first black graduate of Harvard, Richard Greener, Belle hides her identity as she passes for a white woman. This is based on a true story and the author and co-author (Victoria Christopher Murray) do a superb of weaving in the issue of race and racism.

The Only Woman in the Room is the story of actress Hedy Lamarr. Her story is captivating as it takes the reader from her 1st marriage to an Austrian arms dealer to landing in Hollywood, and finally to her idea that would revolutionize modern communication. I read this one in just one sitting straight through.

The Other Einstein was the first book I read by Benedict. The book is certainly a piece of fiction and should be read that way, more for the story than to accept it as fact. The reviews on this book range from 5 star to people who are angry that the information portrayed is not backed up by fact. If you read this book, it is good to do some additional reading about the Einstein couple. Scientific American posted this blog which tells more of the story. Time Magazine also printed a story that talks about the lack of historical standards. I found it to be an enjoyable book and wonder how much of the story is actually true.

Lastly, Carnegie’s Maid is definitely fiction as the author created the character of the maid, but it still provides a glimpse of the life of Andrew Carnegie and how he rose from a poor immigrant to become very wealthy and eventually philanthropic.

I plan to read Ms. Benedict’s other books including Lady Clementine, about William Churchill’s wife, and Her Hidden Genius about Rosalind Franklin who discovered the double helix structure of DNA, which will be released on January 25th.

Time Flies

I didn’t write a single post in 2021 until now. I had to get one in before the year ended.

This year has gone by so fast.

Some of the highlights:

Family Shuffle- my son moved from Tallahassee to Miami, my parents moved from Miami to Winter Park, my daughter moved from Seattle to Atlanta.

Travel was limited. I did get 2 brief, but relaxing vacations to Cancun and Blue Ridge. Our annual Europe Trip didn’t happen. Hopefully, COVID will subside so we can try again in 2022.

I read over 50 books. I will do a separate post soon about what I read since many people have asked. Some of my favorites were The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah, The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict, and hard to read, but important Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.

My work has given me the opportunity to speak at several conferences including participating in a panel with the UN Foundation and Brookings alongside the City of Orlando. It has also been very challenging and meaningful.

I am not going to promise to write more in 2022, but I hope to.

Focus

Yesterday, I said my word for 2021 will be kindness. I want to add a second word (I figure I am a grown adult and if there is a one word rule, I am breaking it.) FOCUS.

I have so many ideas. So many things I want to do. Places to visit. Changes to make. The thing that makes it hard to accomplish everything, is lack of focus.

Where do I start?

What is the priority?

What if I fail?

What if I succeed?

Does it matter?

Will anyone care?

So many thoughts. So many things to do.

I started a notebook of projects and goals. This year I added strategies on how to accomplish my goals. I figure if I treat life projects the way I treat work projects, I might have a good chance of reaching my goals.

So this year coming up, my words to ponder and rest on are kindness and focus. What are yours?

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