Remembering the Night You Were Born

The chapter I’m writing this week is about the night my daughter was born. It was the first time I ever stayed awake more than 24 hours. It was scary, joyous and magical all at the same time.

As I wrote about that night, that spilled into morning, my heart began to race and my palms began to sweat. I was transported back to the darkened delivery room, standing next to my daughter’s birth mother, doing my best to give her the support she needed.

A confusing mix of emotions rolled over me and then receded like ocean waves.

I was excited. I couldn’t wait to meet our daughter, hold her in my arms and wonder at the miracle of her.

I was sad. My heart was breaking for her birth mother who had nurtured her for nine months and was also waiting to meet her.

I was scared. Would the delivery go well? What would the days ahead hold for us? Would her birth parents change their minds?

I was filled with love. A new life was entering the world. There were so many people waiting to meet her, so many waiting to announce her birth.

About eight in the morning my daughter finally arrived. Her birth parents and birthmom’s parents there to greet her. My dad joined my husband and I in welcoming our newest family member.

At the end of those long, emotionally intense hours I held my daughter in my arms. The mixture of emotions all receded and I was left feeling only love and awe.

My beautiful baby had finally arrived and our family was complete.

Seahawks 12k Run Done

My goal is complete. I didn’t race as well as I wanted, so I’ll chalk this one up to a character builder. But I pushed through and finished.

Even though my training started out strong, I couldn’t seem to make time for it over the last few weeks. And then my kindergartener shared her cold with me.

I was still hacking today as I hit the race course but I cranked up my music and tried to settle in for some me time.

The hill repeats and speed work I did manage during my training definitely helped as the hills didn’t feel as hard as I expected. I had a good race until mile five when it fell apart. I’ll spare you the embarrassing details. But I want to thank the wonderful couple who live along the race course who helped me out.

I was once again reminded of my love/hate relationship with running. I think I’ll stick with 5ks for a while and try to do at least one five mile run a week so when it’s time to prep for next year’s race I’ll be in better shape.

There’s always next year.

P.S. A 12k is supposed to be 7.4 miles, and mine wasn’t the only run tracker to measure the course at 7.75. So I survived 12k + a bonus third of a mile. ūüôā


Remembering to be thankful

So there’s part of¬†our recent trip to Canada I’ve thought a lot about since returning¬†home. I’ve shared the story¬†with family, friends and coworkers. The more I think about it the more it frustrates and angers me.

Unbeknownst to me the story has its roots in events that took place a year ago when my identity was stolen. Thieves stole¬†it, along with several hundred others, from a database and used them to¬†file fraudulent federal tax returns. After realizing I was a victim, I contacted all proper authorities at the instruction of the IRS. After that, I pretty much forgot about the situation. There wasn’t anything more I could do about it and as the police officer who took my report told me, it was unlikely the criminals would ever be caught.

Well, come to find out, there was a little more I needed to know.¬†Turned out, I needed a password to verify my identity for the border agent. The thing is, nobody bothered to tell¬†me that because of the identity theft complaint a password was created and associated with my passport. So imagine my surprise when the feisty border agent rudely responded¬†“I don’t know who you are!” when I asked why we were being told to go to secondary screening. When I tried to explain why I was asking, he responded with “Do I need to pull you from the vehicle?!”

I’ll spare you the remaining details and just say the agent’s aggressive tone and body language, he put his hand on his side arm and lunged toward me while I sat in the driver’s seat of my vehicle, were completely unnecessary. I had two tired and crabby kids in the backseat who were wondering why it was taking so long. On top of that I was managing my own confusion and surprise at the¬†unexpected turn of events. I was simply¬†trying to understand what was going on, what the problem was and to calm my kid’s growing impatience.

Here’s my bottom-line:
1) We’ve taught our kids¬†if they are ever lost, see something suspicious or dangerous to tell a trusted adult. A trusted adult includes a person in uniform. Hard for my kids to trust a person in uniform if they see someone treating their mother the way the agent treated me.
2) It was hard to explain to our 10 year old why he should respect the person in uniform who just treated his mom so disrespectfully. My son saw a bully, not a man of authority.
3) I feel¬†lucky to be white. I don’t want to live in a world where I’m lucky because of my skin color because that means someone is unlucky because of theirs. I find myself thinking about how things might have been different if I was a person of color. I hate that the color of a person’s skin makes a difference, but I know it does.

I continue to work hard for what I have. I paid my way through college and spent time and energy developing my career in more than one male dominated field. I make daily trade-offs to find balance between work and family.

More now than ever, I realize my road to success, while at times bumpy, has¬†always been a paved road. And those bumps, well, they were more like¬†small potholes. There are plenty of people for whom that isn’t the case and I hope I never forget that.

Twenty Years Ago Today, on Valentines’ Day

The lines seem to be clearly drawn you either love Valentines’ Day or you hate it. There’s very little middle ground and few people on the fence. It’s an interesting time of year.
As a kid I loved making the big Valentines envelope that would soon hold the small cardboard cards from my friends. And the little boxes of candy hearts. Giggling with my friends when the one saying “Kiss Me” fell out of the box.
In high school there was the formal Key Heart dance, a time to dress up and go to a fancy restaurant. And if the holiday happened to fall on a school day, there was the mystery of who would receive a rose in class. Teen love was intense (an often short lived).
Twenty years ago, late in the evening my boyfriend knelt down on one knee and asked me to marry him. The boyfriend became the husband almost 19 years ago.
Valentines’s Day is still full of love, but how we celebrate it is different. We save the gifts for our two kids and the candles on the dinner table are about bringing our family closer together. For the husband and I, we check in with each other, reconfirm our commitment and remember why we decided to dive into life together.
Happy Valentines’ Day to my kiddos, we hope you are filled with love and joy. And to the husband, Happy Valentines’ Day to you. Thanks for celebrating in our laid back and casual way, that’s who we are … And I love that.

Lessons for Work and Motherhood

Are you following the editorials Sheryl Sandberg is writing in the New York Times? If not, you should.

In her¬†most recent editorial,¬†Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee¬†Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant address¬†women doing what they call the “Office Housework” and the impacts to individual careers and team effectiveness.

Overall what strikes me is Sandberg and Grant don’t place¬†the blame on any one group¬†and don’t excuse anyone’s choices that lead to the phenomenon they discuss. Instead they make the case for change, talk about the areas women as¬†individuals¬†can address and finish with suggestions on¬†how we¬†can work together to move toward¬†improved individual and team performance.

Following are the points that struck a chord for me:

By putting self-concern on par with concern for others, women may feel less altruistic, but they‚Äôre able to gain more influence and sustain more energy. Ultimately, they can actually give more.¬†I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I work¬†to balance everything (and everyone) competing for my time and attention. Life is too complex for my current, simplistic strategy of pushing harder until the next break comes.¬†It’s time for a change.

Just as we still need to rebalance housework and child care at home, we also need to equalize and value office housework. This means first acknowledging the imbalance and then correcting it. I need to pay attention and stop automatically jumping up to help. There are almost always plenty of people to help out. I need to be discerning and think critically about who is the best person to fill a need.

The person taking diligent notes in the meeting almost never makes the killer point.¬†I need to remember there are times its important I’m available¬†to¬†“make the killer point.”

Research shows that teams with greater helping behavior attain greater¬†profits,¬†sales,¬†quality,¬†effectiveness,¬†revenue and customer satisfaction.¬†As I mentioned in a post a couple weeks ago, I have a home team and a work team. When both are¬†running¬†smoothly it feels great and produces energy. That’s why I’m going to spend energy on making the changes in my approach so I can¬†lead toward the change I want to experience for myself and for the people around me.

Championship Week

The excitement was in the air everywhere we went this week. The Seahawk blue and green, the number 12 on cars, planes, and trains. It was on buildings, men, women, children, dogs and even a pony or two. Seahawks spirit was everywhere and it was awesome. The community spirit was infectious.

Our Seattle Seahawks are an easy team to love. Its easy to love a team when they are winning … and our team has won a lot¬†in the last few years. But our Seahawks are easy to love because of more than just their record. They are leaders on and off the field.

When they were down in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game they didn’t give up, dug deep and delivered an amazing win. The Seahawks play for each other and they play for their fans, the Twelves. Seahawk players and coaches¬†volunteer in our community during the season and wherever they call home in the off-season. Their hard work and dedication illustrate¬†their love of the game and dedication to their profession.

I wear my Seahawks gear with pride and I have no reservations about having my kids represent the team either.

Thanks for an amazing season Seattle Seahawks. Thanks for teaching your fans, young and old, the pay-off for dedication, preparation and old fashioned hard work.

A New Goal – The Seahawks 12k Run

So go ahead, call me crazy. I know that’s what at least a few of my friends will be doing when I share my latest goal.

It really isn’t that outrageous of an endeavor, its more¬†that I’m adding another item¬†to my already long to do list. Last week, to celebrate the amazing Seahawks win I decided to register for the Seahawks 12k. I love this race!

I stopped running nine months ago and haven’t made time for it since. That all changed this morning. I hit the treadmill for a 30 minute run to start getting back in shape.

For me, the point of running isn’t to take first place. (Which is a good thing, cause it will never happen.) It’s about making time for myself, proving that I can do what I set my mind to and feeling my body getting stronger.

I also like the side benefit of showing my kids it’s important to exercise. So when I get frustrated with my family, all with noses next to a screen,¬†I’m not a hypocrite when I insist they put down their device and move their bodies.

Go Seahawks!

Yes, we are Seattle Seahawks fans. Having the Seahawks in the play-offs for the second year in a row is like extending the holidays an extra six weeks. I love the way our community comes together to cheer on our team. Everywhere you go people are sporting their¬†Seahawk gear, wearing¬†blue and 12 is our favorite number. The NFC Championship game today was a nail biter and difficult to watch. But our guys came through, never gave up and found a way to win. I love how this team is a testament to how hard work, preparation, determination and faith are the keys to success. Having these characteristics will help a person through good times and bad … and maybe even take you to the Super Bowl!

You Just Can’t Do It All By Yourself

Another crazy week. My team was responsible for a big conference this week, something we hadn’t done before. It was a huge undertaking and the stakes were pretty high. So glad to report we did it!

I was part of another team this week that also helped make it happen. That was my “home team.” The husband was on full-time kid duty and we asked our¬†kids to be extra patient and kind. My home team came through too. I couldn’t have done it without them.

On Wednesday I managed to get home about 10 minutes before bedtime. Theo greeted me with a cheerful “Hey Mom!” and Rhys started talking a mile a minute. I didn’t know it was humanly possible for someone’s lips to move so quickly. Maybe we have an auctioneer in the making.

Rhys was excited to share the game she made for us, what the rules were and she was ready to play. I hadn’t eaten in hours, my feet hurt and my head was still full from the previous 14 hours of work.¬†Feel the love, I reminded myself,¬†You’re so lucky to be missed and wanted. I was mentally summoning 30 more minutes of energy to make the most of the time I had with my kiddos.

While the husband heated up some left overs for me to quickly eat before helping with the bedtime routine, I sat down and played the game with Rhys. She made my day.

It was a tiring and successful week. It was also¬†a great reminder that you just can’t do it all by yourself.

Rhys' game creation.
Rhys’ game creation.

Back to the usual routine … hopefully

After a welcome two week break tomorrow brings¬†a return to normally¬†scheduled programming. Kids will be back to school, homework and Tae Kwon Do. I’ll be back to¬†work, which is sure to keep me on my toes as we prepare for the delivery of a big project on January 12th.

Our family¬†enjoyed a great two weeks together that included a couple of special outings for a each of the kids, a few family hikes and lots of playing with new Christmas toys and gadgets. My daughter and I even found time for¬†a couple craft projects we hadn’t tried before. Both projects turned out to be fun and frustration free.

As I get ready to prepare dinner, I’m already¬†hoping both bedtime tonight and wake-up tomorrow¬†isn’t too rough.¬†My fingers are crossed that everything will go smoothly¬†but¬†I’m also realistic. It won’t be easy for any of us¬†to go to bed early and I know that when my alarm goes off at 5:00 tomorrow morning I’ll likely groan more than once.

All good things must come to an end and this holiday break was one of our best.