We know how lucky we are

There is no doubt about it – 2020 has been a challenge.

And it started before COVID hit.

We sailed into January believing the worst was behind us. Our dog, Boo, had survived emergency surgery in December, emerging from a twisted stomach without her spleen but with all stomach tissue intact. It was pretty much a best case scenario. We celebrated Christmas and the New Year, certain we had more time with our older, but still puppy-like, dog. 

Then less than two months later, the rug was pulled out from under us and Boo threw a blood clot and despite emergency care, we lost her 24 hours later. After 10 years, we were suddenly coming home to an empty house. It was terrible. 

And then the world started shutting down.

Our last personal trip was the day after we lost Boo (planned trip to Chicago for the Hustle), and my last business trip was early March. Shortly after that, my choir concert was cancelled, and eventually, the rest of the season. We watched and waited to see what would happen with jobs, with family, with health. We hoped things would improve by August so we could take a planned trip to California, but soon realized there was no way. Our annual pre-holiday trip didn’t even get to the planning stages, knowing we were in this for the long haul.

Yet through it all, we know we are lucky. 

Neither of us lost our jobs and the work we do is easily done remotely. We have good health insurance. We have a house large enough to accommodate both of us working from home for the foreseeable future. We have the means and the know-how to order what we need online. We have remained healthy. Our extended family has remained healthy. The money we had set aside for our California trip was repurposed into long-overdue home improvements (along with everyone else in our neighborhood, apparently). We already had a home gym set up, for goodness’ sake. Overall, we are doing okay.

Every once in a while, one of us will comment on a story we’ve read or a segment on television we just saw, saying, “We have been really fortunate through all of this.” 

That doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days. We get frustrated, depressed, annoyed, and bored – just like everyone else. But we haven’t had to say good-bye to a loved one via Facetime, which puts it all in sharp perspective. 

For all of this, we are grateful. I won’t say we’re “blessed,” because to me that infers we are somehow special or ordained. No – we are flat out lucky. Yes, we follow health guidelines (masks and sanitizer on hand at all times), but lots of people who do that have gotten sick. Yes, we try to be thoughtful about our careers, but lots of people who do that were laid off through no fault of their own. We are simply benefitting from some cosmic lottery that allows us to weather this particular storm in relative security. And so, we are grateful.

There is no motive behind sharing this, other than to say – beware of attribution bias. Yes, we might try to make our own luck, but that saying, “Man plans and God laughs,” exists for a reason. People can do everything right and still struggle. And people can do everything wrong and succeed. You can be proud of your accomplishments AND acknowledge the element of chance that ensured the cards fell in your favor.

Final proof of our luck? We had been following an Akita breeder on Instagram for future consideration. Their dogs had similar personalities to Boo and we thought someday, they might be an option when the time came to consider a new dog. The day we lost Boo, a litter of puppies was born. We were able to put a deposit down, got our first pick of the puppies, and welcomed Baloo to our home the week before my birthday. He’s a doofus of a dog who tries our patience like only a 10-month-old puppy can. 

And we are so lucky to have him. 

It’s time to start writing for me again

Picture of a typewriter with the words "stories matter" on the paper.

It’s been eleven months since I last posted on this site. Kind of stretches the claim in my bio that I author a blog, ya know?

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I contribute to HR Examiner, ERE.net, and other one-offs as requested. I also write for newsletters and posts for the place where I work. I enjoy writing for all these different places, I really do! But for anyone who has ever done prescribed writing, you know it’s just not the same as writing for yourself.

It’s not that I haven’t had ideas for this blog during the last eleven months. Apparently, I have 25 drafts of posts in various degrees of completion, and that doesn’t count all the random ideas I’ve had while watching television or listening to the radio, or just musing on the human condition.

I just haven’t felt like finishing any of the posts.

Part of it is all the other writing I’ve been doing. Sometimes the word tank just runs dry. Part of it is the fact I really like my work and maybe I didn’t need to write to feel heard (I will most likely unpack that in a future post). I also think a big part of it is, just….well, LOOK AT WHAT IS HAPPENING. We have a lot going on between COVID and the crazy person who was supposed to lead us through it. It just felt like there were more important things to deal with.

Our dog, Bamboo (also known as Boo), died unexpectedly in February. She threw a series of blood clots and we had to let her go. It was terrible. Then COVID hit, and all the things I find solace in (travel, choir, lunch with friends) had to shut down. Then there was the uncertainty about jobs and the economy. I mean…that’s a lot.

But things are starting to look up. We were fortunate to get another puppy soon after we lost Boo. (Baloo was born the day Boo died – I like to think that was divine intervention). The work I do is still important, desired, and incredibly fulfilling. And for the first time in four years, we will have an adult in the Oval Office. Hope springs eternal.

So I’m going to start writing more regularly again. I may dust off one of those 25 drafts and finish it up. Or I might just delete the lot and start anew. I may even change the name of this web site. Who knows?

I just know that I’ve still got opinions and I want to share them.

Vulnerability is…

There has been a lot of talk around vulnerability lately.

I blame Brené Brown.

Okay, not JUST Brené Brown, but she’s probably the most famous one at this point. She gives talks about vulnerability all the time. They are really, really good talks. She speaks from the heart. She lays bare all her flaws. She challenges everyone else to do the same.

And people love it. And they love her. And everyone leaves promising themselves and each other that they will be more vulnerable to get past that fear, that they will have a strong back and a soft front, because there is power in vulnerability.

Then people go back to their daily lives, where there a whole bunch of other people who have never heard of Brené Brown who think vulnerability is a weakness and that you have to suck it up and show a brave face. And so, the idea of living a life of true vulnerability (like Brené Brown) is abandoned. It just seems too daunting and overwhelming, and besides – just getting through the workday is hard enough without worrying about whether you were vulnerable enough, right?

Here’s the thing – I think most people live lives of vulnerability all the time, just in different ways. They don’t call attention to it, they just do it.

Vulnerability is….

  • Standing up for a coworker
  • Just eating the damn cake without apologizing for it
  • Crying when you’re upset
  • Sharing when you’re nervous
  • Wearing that red pair of shoes because you feel amazing in them
  • Dressing up for Halloween, even though the “cool kids” will make fun of you
  • Reading a romance novel at lunch in the cafeteria
  • Posting updates about how you had to evacuate your home
  • Sharing your love of goofy movies
  • Asking for help on a project
  • Giving a friend a hug when they need it
  • Admitting you were wrong
  • Going to the grocery store with small kids and an even smaller budget
  • Traveling to an unfamiliar place
  • Granting grace to someone…especially yourself
  • Being different

Recognize any of these? In others? In yourself? Vulnerability happens EVERY. DAMN. DAY. We just don’t always recognize it or appreciate it when it happens.

So how will you embrace the vulnerability in your life? How will you define it?

Because guess what –

Vulnerability IS.