Month: March 2019

Sunday Reflection – Happy Anniversary to Me!

As of today, it’s been one year since I quit my job. In some ways, I’m still careening around a bit, trying to figure out what I’m capable of, and where to go from here. There are moments when I still worry about how I’ll be viewed by others, when I live in a culture that idolizes very narrow definitions of what a valuable human, and valuable woman, should be.

Making this choice has meant delaying some lifelong dreams, such as owning a home. I have to worry a lot more about health care. I can’t shop for fun, or be frivolous with money. I have a lot of uncertainty that can still cause my anxiety to flare up.

But when I think of this past year, all I feel is a sense of gratitude and relief. I truly believe my decision saved my life. That I’ve been able to grow and change in ways that I was literally too exhausted to even contemplate while working full time. That taking a step out of the expected path has made me see everything in a new light.

Many of the biggest decisions in my life have been made accidentally. Growing up, I took it for granted I would get married and have kids, because that’s what everyone seemed to do. For a long time it just didn’t happen, and now I’m at a point in my life where I genuinely feel lucky that I lived long enough to realize it was a choice I never truly wanted.

When I decided to quit, it wasn’t from a desire to completely change my life. I had just come to a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. Something flipped a switch, and I was done. And yet it did completely change my life.

Of course not everyone can just drop out. There are lots of paths in life that lead to obligations, and those shouldn’t be taken lightly. But I do think we can all try to take a chance to step off the expected path in some way, even a small one. To shrug off a little bit of what we “should” do for what we truly want to do.

What do you truly want to do?

Amplifying Voices – Verna Myers: How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them.

“Stop trying to be good people. We need real people.”

I love this Ted Talk by Verna Myers. I used it in diversity trainings, and frequently recommended it for participants of our Conflict Navigation classes.

At this point, most people are willing to acknowledge the fact that we all have biases. That alone feels like an accomplishment, but it’s not nearly enough. Because once we acknowledge we have them, we need to engage with how to work through them.

Verna’s talk is about an extremely positive and proactive way to work with our biases. We go towards them.

The Cake is a Lie

One of my favorite video games of all time is a game called Portal. It’s primarily a puzzle game, where you are running through a series of “experiments” using teleportation. The puzzles are fun and challenging, but what makes the game particularly memorable is the artificial intelligence that is directing you through the process, named GLaDOS.

When you first enter the game, your character wakes up in a sealed chamber, with no memories, and no choice but to follow directions as given by GLaDOS.

And in the very beginning, GLaDOS sounds like a typical computer, describing the technical requirements of each test. However, as you progress, she begins to express more personality, and talk directly to the player. As the danger increases within the tests, she starts to make promises about what will happen when the tests are over. And one of these promises is cake.

“Cake, and grief counseling will be available at the conclusion of the test. Thank you for helping us help you help us all.”

Midway through the game, when you’ve completed the “official” testing portion and are no longer useful as a test subject, GLaDOS attempts to kill you. Fortunately, your teleportation abilities give you an opportunity to escape, at which point she starts to try and lure you back. Once again, including a promise of cake.

Uh oh. Somebody cut the cake. I told them to wait for you, but they did it anyway. There is still some left, though, if you hurry back.”

Cake? I like cake!

As you travel through the rest of the testing facility, it’s possible to stumble upon a particular piece of graffiti left behind by a former employee.

the cake is a lie”.

Many people who have never played the game know this phrase. It’s a phrase that has gained tremendous popularity, and has even become a meme, used to convey the idea of a promised gift with no intention to deliver.

In designing this game, the company Valve clearly was going for humor above all. GLaDOS makes numerous jokes at the player’s expense, and mocks your escape attempts.

Neurotoxin…[coughing] So deadly…[coughing again] Choking…[deep laughter] I’m kidding! When I said “deadly neurotoxin”, the “deadly” was in massive sarcasm quotes. I could take a bath in the stuff, put it on cereal, rub it right into my eyes. Honestly, it’s not deadly at all… to me. You, on the other hand, are going to find its deadliness a lot less funny. Who’s gonna make the cake when I’m gone? You?”

But I suspect that there’s another reason that “The Cake is a Lie” resonates. I doubt the subtext is intentional, but it’s there all the same.

Because we live in a culture that exists on the promise of cake. That it’s ok if you are at the bottom of the ladder, because if you do what you’re supposed to, follow the rules, don’t question, don’t fight back, then at some undefinable point in the future, you are going to get your reward.

But if you don’t follow the rules, and you do question those who are on the ladder above you? Well, whatever happens is just your own fault.

“This is your fault. It didn’t have to be like this. I’m not kidding now. Turn back or I will kill you. I’m going to kill you, and all the cake is gone. You don’t even care. Do you? This is your last chance.”

There's no cake?!?

Today I saw a post on Twitter, showing a video from Simon Sinek. Sinek has done some good work around leadership, and there’s some great videos from him that I’ve used in trainings. But this video gave me pause.

It’s part of a piece by Business Insider with the argument that millennials are hurting themselves by job hopping.

And here’s what Sinek says in the video: “One of the challenges that millennials face is impatience, which is after being at a job for a few months, if it’s not their “dream job” they bump and find a new one. The problem is you won’t know that in a few months, especially when you’re entry level.  So if you’re going to just take a job, at least use it as an education. If it’s not the job you love, then learn, learn from the bad leadership you’re experiencing.

With all due respect to Sinek, this is a bad take.

There are countless articles complaining about millennials these days. A number of them seem to use the term millennial synonymously with “young person”, which is funny considering that the oldest millennials are approaching forty. There are a number of people in our society who are deeply resentful that millennials want to change things. They lable them as lazy and entitled.

But you know what I think? I think that many millennials are realizing that the cake is a lie. That doing what is expected of you for that promised reward is a bad proposition. That after seeing parents and other family struggle, get laid off, lose their pensions, and be treated badly over and over again by their corporations, millennials are less willing to bet their lives on the promise of cake.

I’m technically Generation X, but in many ways I share characteristics with millennials. I’ve never stayed in a job longer than two years. I was fortunate in that I was able to find promotional opportunities within my agency, but I was always ready to leave long before I would get the chance.

And yeah, I did learn a lot from the bad leadership, but after a while, you get tired of seeing the same lessons over and over again. You get tired of being treated badly. Bad leadership isn’t just an annoyance. Bad leadership can destroy people. And to act like choosing something better for yourself is entitlement shows a fundamental lack of understanding of just how much our workplace is hurting people.

People should be able to walk away from a workplace culture that doesn’t serve them. The only bad thing here is that more people can’t.

Who promises cake and then gives you no cake!!

At the end of Portal’s credits, the camera reveals that hidden deep within the facility, there is actually a cake. In a place that the player never truly had the option to go.

And it’s much the same for our real world’s cake. Sure, it technically exists. A small number of people will get it. But for the vast majority of us, there are systems in place that ensure we will never see a slice. And we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our own health and happiness to try.

So don’t try for the cake. Don’t do what the voice coming from above tells you to do. Jump off the path. Make them worried. Make them scared. Do things for yourself, for your own reasons. You don’t owe them a thing. They were never going to give you the cake. The cake’s a lie.

Sunday Reflection – Whose Voices Are You Hearing?

One of my coworkers once gave me an activity to do called “The Trusted Ten”. It’s an exercise to look at the most important relationships in your life, outside of family, and to see if there’s any diversity in those relationships, or if you only tend to be close to those who are in the same demographics as yourself.

It’s not meant to make you feel bad about your relationships, but if there is no diversity in your top trusted people, it’s a good reminder to cultivate new connections. If we only ever interact with those just like ourselves, we lose an opportunity to see the world from other perspectives. We miss a lot of what is going on for other people, and how it’s impacting their lives, health, and safety. It puts us in a silo mentality, where our perspective is the only one, and it’s dangerous.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I’ve started going on Twitter. There are parts of it that I still dislike, but I also have a new opportunity to follow people who are from different backgrounds and experiences from me. And sometimes what they have to say can be hard to hear. There are things I’m learning about their perspectives that are making me question myself deeply. But it’s also helping me grow. It’s helping me educate myself, without me trying to place the burden on others to teach me. It’s connecting me with articles and podcasts and other sources that I might have otherwise missed. And it’s making me realize that I’ve been missing some voices in my journey.

So for today’s reflection, let’s take a look at the media and information we consume. Let’s look at who is writing or producing or promoting the information. We may be engaging with media that fits with our narrative, and feels progressive, but is it really? Who is speaking? Who is being left out? And how can we find ways to expand who we are listening to?

Amplifying Voices: Last Week Tonight & Monica Lewinsky – Public Shaming

I was a teenager when the news broke of the “inappropriate relationship” between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. I remember it fairly well, as it was huge in public consciousness at the time. I also remember seeing the jokes and public mocking of Lewinsky, and sadly, I remember not thinking anything much of it. It was the kind of thing I heard all the time. It was normal. The slut shaming, the jokes about clothing, her looks. This is always how women have been talked about, and it barely registered in the moment.

It’s only looking back now, with twenty-five years of additional experience and awareness, that I can fully comprehend how utterly horrible this was. The rampant sexism and judgement, the bullying, and the laughing.

I give Lewinsky so much credit for emerging in recent years with both a sense of humor, and a sense of purpose.

This video is from the great segment that John Oliver did on Last Week Tonight on this topic. I’m only highlighting the interview with Lewinsky, but it’s all worth a watch. You should also check out his interview with Anita Hill, who went through similar hostility in the public eye for speaking out.

Our Anger is Valid

I want to talk about anger today. This may seem contradictory to my last post on kindness and empathy, but it’s not. Because guess what? We can be kind, we can be empathetic, and we can also get angry.

Anger is an interesting issue, particularly for women, because we are socialized from the very beginning to suppress our anger.

It’s not uncommon for tears and anger to be paired for many women, and so we get called hysterical or told we’re out of control. Instead of accepting crying as a normal part of the experience of anger for some women, it’s labeled as weak or unprofessional. Most men don’t do it, therefore the assumption is that it shouldn’t be done (Note – I’m deliberately not delving into all the social reasons for why genders express emotions the way they do).

Men get to coach a sports team and scream at their players, all while being called good leaders. Men can throw tantrums on the court. Men can be testifying under oath, and rant and rave about the injustice of how they are being treated.

Put a woman in the same place, and see how people react to them.

Women are socialized to “be nice”. I don’t like nice. Niceness is about suppressing your own feelings to make someone else comfortable. And time and again, women bury what we’re really feeling in that desire to be nice. We allow others to violate our boundaries, because we don’t want to hurt their feelings. We’re told we have to take prioritize the needs of others, especially men, before ourselves. But our feelings matter, and we have every right to express ourselves.

They told me not to do anything...

And the same is true for so many marginalized groups.

Anger is used as a tool by dominant groups. It’s wielded as a weapon. Those with privilege get to police who is allowed to be angry and who has to be nice. And it works amazingly well.

White people are able to get angry and call the police for Black people simply existing in the same space. And yet recently a Black woman tried calling the police when a neighbor threatened her with a shotgun, and the police assaulted and arrested her instead.

Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim-American politicians in Congress, is being constantly harassed for speaking out. Literally every word she speaks is overanalyzed to a staggering degree, merely because she’s Muslim. There is not a single white, Christian politician who faces the same kind of scrutiny.

Over and over again, members of marginalized groups are dismissed or targeted. They’re told that their anger isn’t valid; that any anger is inappropriate, and unprofessional. That they need to sit down and shut up, and let the white men keep talking. That the comfort of those who are male and white and straight and able-bodied is the default, and everyone else should conform to it.

...but this doesn't feel right.

There was a video game released last year called Detroit: Become Human, about androids (i.e. robots) gaining sentience and fighting for equal rights with humans. Although it was wonderfully acted and beautifully designed, one thing that really stood out to me was how strongly the game pushed the narrative that anger is a bad choice. You can make the choice to fight, but the game highly emphasizes the idea that staying calm, even when your people are being shot in the streets, is supposed to be the morally superior decision.

What made it even worse was the fact that the game borrowed a great deal of imagery from the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. The androids rode in the back of the bus, they could use slogans like “I have a dream”, or symbols like the raised fist that is associated with the Black Power movement.

Media like this emphasizes the harmful idea that if oppressed groups just focused on fighting for rights in a “nice” way, then the dominant culture would happily give them more rights. That if oppressed people just would stop being so darn angry, than we could all live together happily.

The game doubles down on this concept by having the androids who follow the “peaceful” path gain the support of the government in their bid for equal rights, all within a matter of days. It completely disregards the fact that the real world has institutional racism and oppressive systems that hurt and kill people, in favor of a narrative that insists we can “all just get along”.

And the sad thing is that you see this narrative everywhere in our culture. Whenever members of marginalized groups get angry, people with privilege fall back on the “inappropriateness” of their message. “It’s not that I disagree with them,” they’ll say. “But they just did it in such an unprofessional way!”

It’s just one more way to keep power dynamics the same. Because if you make a bigger deal about how someone is saying something than what they’re actually saying, you don’t have to listen.

Ah, f*@k it!

This is why I prefer the concept of kindness over niceness. Because I think that calling others out for oppressive and dominating behavior is kind. It’s thinking of the greater good. It’s prioritizing those who need advocates and allies. Kindness validates the anger of those who are suffering. And above all, when we fight back for what we need and deserve, we’re being kind to ourselves.

There are a lot of things I love about getting older. But one of the best is learning to not care what other people think. To not let other people’s discomfort hold me back from speaking my mind. And as I break through those limitations, I’ve learned to stop trying to hide my anger. There are things in this world we should be angry about. I’m going to be angry about them. And if someone doesn’t like that, too bad. They don’t get to tell me how I should feel.

I’m angry that every woman I know has a story of sexual harassment or assault, but so many people still worry about the impact of the MeToo movement on men.

I’m angry that despite thousands of people dying from gun violence every year, our country can’t pass common sense gun reform.

I’m angry that the Catholic Church has the utter gall to demand an apology for a joke on Saturday Night Live when they won’t take responsibility or accountability for all of the lives they’ve destroyed.

I’m angry that there are children who are still kicked out of their homes for being LGBTQ.

I’m not going to stop being angry about these things. I’m not going to stop talking about them.

Anger is not the purview of white straight men. Dominant culture will do everything it can to convince you that it is, but it’s a lie based on the fear of what will happen if they’re not always in control.

We shouldn’t be afraid of anger. Anger is necessary. Anger can spark change. It’s what we do with that anger that matters.

**Note: Right after I had written this, a friend sent me this article by Robin diAngelo for The Guardian: “White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It’s not.” It’s a very good read.

Sunday Reflection – It Will Never Make Sense

One of the hard things about being an empathetic person is trying to make sense of those who turn on others. The people who don’t see other individuals as human beings, but as some sort of formless and dangerous “them”. It’s a perspective that is so foreign and so warped, and yet our desire for understanding makes us search for something that we can process.

And usually, we’re not going to find it. We can’t explain why some people turn to cruelty and abuse. There are plenty of people who have been through horrific circumstances who respond to the world with kindness and love. They have a strength of character that breaks through the harshest of adversity. And then there are those who will never look inward. Who can’t look past their own entitlement. Who time and again will pick blind hatred rather than look at themselves or the dominant systems that hurt everyone.

Every time something bad happens, I have moments where I resent feeling so strongly about it. Where I wish I could just shut it all off, even for a little bit. But then I try to remind myself that feeling this way is a strength. That whatever happens, I would much rather be a person who can experience connection with people from all backgrounds. My life is so much richer for having the love and friendship of people different than me. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

So for today, let’s allow ourselves to feel sad. Let’s embrace it as proof that we are what is good in humanity. Let’s be thankful that we are strong enough to choose connection over fear. And however hard it might be, let’s keep pushing forward and doing good.

Amplifying Voices – Naomi Feil: Validation, Communication Through Empathy

Naomi Feil developed the concept of Validation theory, a method for working with the elderly that is highly influenced by the power of empathy. Although her examples in this talk are based on working with seniors, I feel like they apply so well to any interactions. So often we have a tendency to try and minimize, distract, or dismiss what others are feeling, especially if we’re feeling uncomfortable with the emotions involved. But doing those things doesn’t help. Empathy does.

Balancing Act: Part 3 – Changing a Culture

“I argue that we choose to be good because of our bonds with other people and our innate desire to treat them with dignity. Simply put, we are not in this alone.”

Chidi Anagonye, The Good Place

 

Here’s the deal. I’m not the kind of person who’s going to make you a top ten list of what to do. I’m not going to tell you to prioritize your time differently, or put down the phone, or delegate more. I’m not going to tell you to take more baths or do yoga or drink chamomile tea.

I’m not going to lie to you by pretending that any of those things are going to change your life.

For one, you know your own life and what you can and can’t do right now. If you can change priorities or delegate, great. If not, that’s ok too. Life is challenging – sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t. I have days where I can clean my apartment, work productively, get my exercise, and spend time with friends. I also have days where I stay in bed and try to remain a semi-functional human. One of those days is socially acceptable and one is not. But the truth is that both of those kinds of days are ok. Both of those are what I need in the moment. Do what you need in the moment, when you can do it. Don’t criticize yourself when you can’t.

I’m also not going to pretend that our society doesn’t have structures in place that make this difficult. Or that these structures won’t impact you exponentially if you are a person of color, or a woman, or living with a disability, or low income. It’s not fair to do that.

I do have some thoughts. But this is about the big picture. Changing society is an excruciating process and takes a long time. But change does happen. I get to choose to live my life as an independent woman because of the work of women before me. The seeds get planted by individual choices. The more power you have in an organization, the more your choices can impact everyone. But all of us have the capacity to model the behavior that can foster change.

This is about creating a culture that doesn’t just conform to society’s expectations, but a culture that fights back.

Item 1: Kindness

When it comes to core values, very few companies seem to highlight the value of kindness. Integrity and respect are much more popular and look better on the brochures. Professionalism too, which is usually defined so vaguely as to be useless. My former agency defined professionalism as “We adhere to standards, methods, behaviors and personal characteristics demonstrated by the best workers in their respective fields. Really helpful, right?

And throughout their mission, vision, goals, and core values, the word “kind” is not mentioned once.

In my opinion, kindness is key. Being kind is being professional.

Anyone can be a jerk. That’s the easy way. It takes zero effort to be cruel. And we often see people in the working world who consider aggression to be essential. They think yelling at their coworkers or staff is a means of efficiency. That they have a right to mock people asking for respect. That targeting others to promote their own career is a valid strategy. There are genuinely people out there who think that a director or boss being cruel to others is just displaying a quirk of genius. I think it’s displaying a quirk of idiocy. If you need to be a jerk to get a job done, then you are not good at your job.

Being kind is a skill, and a highly undervalued one.

I don’t remember every conversation with my first supervisor at the agency, but I do remember that when I talked of being cold in my cubicle, she went out and used her own money to buy me a little space heater.

I remember a supervisor who had trouble giving personal appreciation, but gave all of his staff handmade medals with the names of ships that he felt described them as people. I got the HMS Illustrious. (It means notably or brilliantly outstanding because of dignity or achievements or actions, in case you were wondering).

I remember one of my staff who came in on her weekend off to help me paint my office so I could replace the soulless gray walls with a bright orange.

I remember my coworker calling me on my tendency to doubt myself after presenting in a training, and insisting that I say something good about myself before I was allowed to say anything else.

These are the people who have made me a better human being and a better leader. The best teams I have worked in are the ones that incorporate kindness as a daily practice. And make no mistake, kindness is absolutely a choice.

Item 2: Releasing judgement

When I was a manager, I had a number of staff who qualified for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for a variety of reasons. For those of you who are unfamiliar, FMLA protects jobs by allowing employees to take leave from work, beyond what they have available in vacation or sick leave, if they meet the criteria. And the criteria covers both physical and mental health.

FMLA time can be used concurrently (having a child, getting surgery, recovering from a stroke), or can be used more sporadically, for more chronic conditions.

When I first started, I had an employee who would be out sporadically. And after a while, my co-manager and I began to get a bit frustrated. She always seemed fine when she was in the office, she admitted the doctors weren’t finding anything conclusive, and she always seemed to use FMLA in a way to ensure she’d get rollover time for the next month. We felt like she was gaming the system.

And then she died.

I called my father that night and had a complete emotional breakdown over the phone. I still feel tremendous guilt. I didn’t believe her. Her doctors didn’t believe her. But something was truly wrong, and she didn’t get the help she needed. My co-manager and I never expressed our doubts to her personally, but I’m not naive enough to think there wasn’t an impact.

It was a horrible lesson, but an important one. We don’t know what’s happening in someone’s life. We don’t know what’s happening with their health. We can’t judge, because we don’t know. And when we make assumptions, we are so often wrong. I was so wrong.

Once, I had employees coming to me and pointing out that they’d seen someone who was out on sick leave posting Facebook pictures of being at the beach and shopping. Their immediate conclusion was that this person was a faker. This was coming from people working in a social services office, who understood the stress and pressure of the environment, and yet when they saw something that didn’t fit with the “proper” narrative of what illness should look like, they jumped to judgement. There wasn’t a moment where they stepped back to think about what it might be like for someone struggling with a mental illness, who might need to take a break from the office, and also might need to be out in the world, not just lying in bed feeling sad.

Of course, as manager I had to protect my employee’s confidentiality. So all I could say was that they shouldn’t rush to judgement. I could tell they weren’t convinced.

Work can be so overwhelming. It can be tempting to judge others, especially when we’re surrounded with frustrations. But judgement is the same as cruelty. It’s easy, and it’s lazy. It takes much more strength to decide that you’re not going to be annoyed that your coworker left early today. That she has her reasons. That her prioritizing something other than work in that moment has absolutely nothing to do with you. That you’d rather be kind.

Item 3: Empathy

I truly believe empathy is a superpower. I think most people can feel sympathy. But empathy is next level.

Privilege is when you think something isn’t a problem, because it’s not a problem for you personally. And our world is filled with privilege.

Empathy is what enables us to listen to someone who is walking around in a different skin, and to understand what they are saying. Empathy is not jumping in to tell someone they’re wrong about their own lived experiences. Empathy is what allows us to let go of defensiveness, and agree that we are part of a problem. Empathy helps us realize that it’s not about us. That there is so much happening that is so much bigger than we are as individuals.

There’s so much I could say about empathy, but I don’t think I could do it as well as Brené Brown via cartoon imagery:

I love her depiction of the unhelpfulness of “at least”. I used to have a friend who, when I would speak of worrying about something in my life, would criticize me for “putting it out there”. As if my voicing a concern was solely responsible for anything bad that might happen to me. We didn’t stay friends.

It’s fine to encourage each other to be positive, but don’t forget to listen before you start to cheerlead. And above all, check your privilege before you speak.

Item 4: Speaking up

So here’s the thing. Kindness, lack of judgement, and empathy are great. But they mean a whole lot more when they’re partnered with action.

A long time ago I was working in an outdoor job in California. A female coworker told me how a male colleague was getting overly physical with her, making comments about her, and bragging to other male employees that he had kissed her. Things were starting to escalate, and she was scared, but was also afraid to say anything to management.

All of the employees lived in housing on the property, and my coworker shared a trailer with this man. He also drank a lot, and had talked openly about keeping guns in his room. What he was doing wasn’t ok, and I had a bad feeling that it could get so much worse.

So I ended up talking to our supervisor. And she brought it to management.

Unfortunately, there were no consequences for him. None of the other male employees were willing to go on the record with what he had been saying or doing. They protected him. But we were able to get permission to move her into my trailer, and they passed a rule that no guns could be kept on the property.

But the thing that really sticks with me about the experience was how sick I felt after talking to my supervisor. I was worried I might have cost a man his job. I was worried I might have made too much out of it. I was worried about all the things I’d been programmed to worry about. And then my coworker came to find me, and hugged me.

When I get scared to speak up, I remember that hug. I remember her relief that she wasn’t alone. I remember that the sick feeling, the disapproval of the male workers, was all worth it, because we kept her safe.

Speaking up is incredibly hard. And this is in no way intended to victim shame, because people have good reasons for not coming forward when they’re being victimized. This is about advocacy. This is about a culture of taking care of each other. This is about “if you can’t speak right now, that’s ok, because I can”.

If you are white, this is about pointing out when people of color are not being treated fairly. If you are male, this is about supporting your female coworkers when they get mistreated. If you are straight or cis, this is about stopping your coworkers from making cruel jokes or comments that mock a person’s sexuality or gender identity. If you are able-bodied, this is about pointing out when your office is inaccessible.

To quote The Good Place once again, this is about what we owe to each other.

Some things you can do on your own. And some things may take some hard and honest discussions with managers and coworkers. Not everyone will be on your side. But a lot of us are.

I wish I had an easy and simple answer for you. I wish we lived in a world that treated everyone as they deserve. But until that happens, I’ll leave you with this.

You make a difference in someone’s life. You do good work. You are worthy, and loved. You are trying your best, and there are people who see and appreciate that. And if we all try together, I think we can make things a little bit better.

Sunday Reflection – We’re OK

I quit my job at the end of March of 2018. It’s been almost a year now. And it’s been an amazing year. I’m still really proud of taking the step I did, and I know it’s been so good for me.

And yet, I still have moments where the panic takes over. The anxiety gets worse if I feel like I’m not being productive every day. Every time someone asks me about plans for the future, I feel guilty for not having all the answers. When I think about looking for work again, I wonder if people will judge me for taking a break.

I’m not a different person because I’m not working right now. I didn’t lose my ethics or values. I’m not lazy or broken or stupid. I just wanted a break.

And that’s what’s so insidious about living in a culture that equates work with goodness. I may know in my heart that I don’t truly believe it, but it still impacts me.

Despite not having a formal job, I am working on multiple projects, including this blog. And this week I had a realization, when I found myself staying at the desk in my home office well past the time I would have stayed at my previous job. There’s still a part of me that doesn’t believe that this is real work. Because it’s not for a paycheck, because I get personal satisfaction from it, somehow it’s not supposed to be “work”.

It’s a good reminder that we have to interrupt those internal messages. The ones that come from the outside. The ones that make us doubt ourselves.

After a few snowy and rainy weeks, the sun is shining brightly today. So let’s enjoy the sun. Let’s focus on the positive internal messages. The ones that tell us we’re amazing. That we are doing our best in a world that doesn’t make it easy. That we are doing great work, in whatever form that may take.

Scroll to Top