Step Forward, Step Backward

It’s been a “coalescing” week. Which basically means that I’m more officially transitioning roles, and I’m done unpacking so my brain is working on “unpacking” from one location to our new home. I’m also unpacking some of my health issues — trying to work through some hand and wrist pain I’ve been having, and trying to get back on track with a diet and an exercise plan. I’ve been planning my first major dinner party at the new house, and arranging for the deck furniture to be delivered.

I have a long way to go before I feel normal again, but I’m beginning to see the light. All the pains left are fundamentally “good pains” — time with friends, time to adjust, time to work on my health. But with every step forward there are steps backward, too. My brain and my heart are tired. There are times when I come home and I don’t feel “home” — as usual, it takes my heart and soul a bit more time to process all of this change than it takes my brain. And I got some relief from the pain in my wrist and right hand, but I traded 10 days of steroids and 5 pounds of weight gain to get the temporary relief.

It’s going to be a low key weekend. Time for my brain and my heart to adjust, to connect with friends, and then to hopefully get some rest and recovery…so I can take a couple of additional steps forward next week, and the week after.

Hello, Again

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After about a month of fairly frenetic activity, I am coming up for air again. I now have time to be something other than “human who endures change” or perhaps “human who is barely holding it together.” I suspect either moniker doesn’t really do me justice — it’s been an amazing storm of change in a very short period of time, and I managed to hold everything together. Most stuff even turned out pretty darned well.

And now I am left with this wonderful feeling of satisfaction and peace — nothing I have scheduled in the next two weeks feels all that difficult. I have time to breathe, to reach back out to friends, and to enjoy my new house. I have time to host friends, and schedule bike rides, and catch up on all those darned work emails. And I have time to blog, too.

I’d forgotten how much fun it was to own your home…to have the ability to change anything at any time, and to feel that pride of ownership. We chose this place, and we’re making it into something fantastic…not just a place to sleep, but a place to have friends, a place to love and be loved, a place of cherished memories. I find myself walking around the house, imagining those sweet times ahead, and smiling. It’s going to be a fantastic adventure.

I’d also forgotten how much fun it was to win at work. How important it is to be on your high performing team, and drive to the same goal. How important it is to minimize friction and maximize performance. How incredibly important it is to be valued, and trusted, and to work with equally talented and driven people. I’m incredibly bullish about my future in this way, too. And my week will include a trip to Redmond with a customer, a District offsite, and several key meetings to re-enforce this commitment.

I’m back. I’m a little tired, but I’m focused and I’m so terribly happy to have made all of the decisions and changes I’ve made in the past few weeks. Eventually, I’ll move on to the next set of challenges…but for right now, I’m celebrating the wins.

Free Meals

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We live in a rich country, but there are many people in this country who don’t feel its richness. We have people who are hungry, sick, and lonely – who are disenfranchised and ignored by our society. The homeless who live in cities are obvious, but they are but the tip of the iceberg. There are people living across the country who experience poverty. The working poor, the temporarily unemployed…but even more than these, the seniors living on fixed incomes and tiny budgets. I fully absorbed these realities this week during my trip to Ohio, and I found myself thankful for small towns– for food banks and for helping neighbors and for free sandwiches.

I could write you a simple story about how I stood next to my grandfather and helped unload pallets of free food, or about how dirty I got as I hauled half rotten cabbages to people’s cars. I could talk about how excited some people were to get those cabbages, and I could extol the virtues of charity. I could paint pictures of the people I met – some educated, and some uncouth. Some old and toothless and hobbling in, and others fully capable of a day’s work…but they were all poor, and most of them were hungry. Everything I would write would be true, but t would only scratch the surface of the experience.

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I found myself appalled by so many people who were grateful for simple food to fill their bellies, when we’re supposed to be living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world. I was sad to hear seniors chatting about how they would can and freeze the food they were receiving so that they wouldn’t go hungry this winter. I noted conversations about people that couldn’t make it to the food line, but I was pleased that their neighbors and friends were taking extra to give to them later. I was surprised to see how people were so humbly happy to receive half rotten cabbage, wilted lettuce, and pygmy corn. It made me want to lavish them with better meals, and with a sustainable way of life.

I was also filled with hope. So many of the people volunteering to staff the pantry have little more than the people they served, but they helped with a smile. A young man stopped by with three big zucchini…he’d taken them out of his garden, and wanted to share his harvest with neighbors. An old woman stopped by with sandwiches – untoasted white bread with a single slice of meat – and explained that she had extras from a party the day before, and wanted to share them. The part-time postman, who was working during the give away, ended up with some peaches and corn thanks to thoughtful neighbors. And a man twice my age refused to let me lift pallets and heavy stacks of corn, and worked until his gloves were literally threadbare.

There’s a lot that is wrong with this country – there’s a lot that is poor, and threadbare, and hungry. It needs to be fixed, and I want to be part of the solution. But there’s also hope…there are helping neighbors, and food banks, and people who share. I hope that’s enough of a seed to grow a better solution.