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365 Days of Gratitude

Forgive Us Our Trespasses…

There comes a time in life when we must forgive another human for … well, frankly, for really pissing us off. It’s hard. It is very easy to run the tapes in one’s mind, replaying the offending situation(s) over and over as we work, play, or try to sleep (see: insomnia).

Forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us…

It’s no accident that forgiveness is called for in the Lord’s prayer – a prayer repeated during every Catholic mass I’ve ever attended, as well as several Protestant services. It’s so simple and yet so. freakin’. hard. to do. According to the New Testament, this is how Jesus suggested Christians should pray. Praying should not be showy. Prayer is not a way to prove oneself more pious than the next person. We seek forgiveness for our own faults and foibles, and so it is only fair and equitable that we forgive the same in others.

But like I said – it’s hard. And so why bother? If you are Christian and religiously inclined*, the answer may be, because Jesus said so. If you are not particularly inclined to read scripture, or are not a firm believer in Jesus as Christ (or you do believe, but it’s not terribly motivating for you), then why forgive? Why make the (sometimes Herculean) effort?

For me, the highest motivating factor is, honestly, quite selfish. I don’t miss the irony that my motivation to do something somewhat selfless is, nonetheless, selfishly motivated. So here it is: the reason I seek to forgive others is because I can then live in peace.

I’ve heard many, many people talk about how so-and-so isn’t worth their forgiveness, or that certain behavior is unforgivable. And while I have felt these things in my deepest heart, I know that in reality, they are not true. ANYONE can be forgiven. It might be hard AF, but that doesn’t make a feat impossible. And it is worth the effort because anger carried only hurts the person doing the carrying.

When you hold on to anger aimed at another person, it doesn’t actually impact that other person unless you vent it at them. I suppose this would be a different blog post if I was the type of person who is inclined to vent my anger directly to the source of my anger. I am not. I am the kind of person who would prefer to avoid that conflict, to avoid inflicting the agony of my own pain and discomfort on another person. I am the kind of person who does not want to impose my negative emotions on others because I dislike so strongly when others do it to me (I’m actually pretty good at holding space for negative emotions when they aren’t aimed at me.)

In order to avoid the conflict and also to protect myself from experiencing the behavior that has upset me in the first place, I often distance myself from the offender. I am happy to just put it all aside and forget about it. Because I know that with time and distance, I will no longer be angry, and I can avoid having all those nasty feelings while they are fresh.

There are two reasons I can see off the top of my head why this is not a great approach. Firstly, the “offending person” is still a human with a different perspective and feelings of their own. There may be a very reasonable explanation for why they are doing whatever it is that’s pissing me off. There may not be a reasonable explanation. But that person doesn’t necessarily know how their behavior is impacting me, and if I disappear off the face of the earth, they may wonder what is happening. And also, an argument could be made (in fact, has been made, many times) that we learn from our own negative feelings, and so they are worth picking through, if ever-so-carefully.

Sometimes life hands us a difficult situation where just walking away from someone isn’t a good solution. Perhaps you feel you really need something they have to offer. Maybe they are the parent of your child, or a business partner. Being legally bound to a person doesn’t make it impossible to walk away, but it makes it difficult. And this type of deeper relationship means that you are going to have a difficult conversation one way or the other. I mean, I suppose you could go on the lam, but I’m not the kind of person to do that, either. Not when there are real responsibilities involved like children, businesses, etc.

Of course I’m writing about all of this because I currently find myself in a difficult situation with a partner, and I have been avoiding a conversation for a couple years now. Longer than that, if I’m honest. But I’ve continued to stick around, so I haven’t put as much distance between myself and the relationship as I’d like.

Something they did recently put me over the edge – like, I. Can. Not. live with this situation any longer. And that means I need to alter the relationship pretty dramatically. Which makes me nervous. Which makes me want to just run away. Only I can’t.

So…time to put my big girl pants on and tackle this head on. Thus, my ruminating on the concept of forgiveness. It feels as if having this conversation BEFORE I forgive these trespasses will result in a bitter feud, which is not a sustainable reality for me. And so I am drawing on all of my emotional abilities to forgive this person. I wish for the resulting conversation to be peaceful and, if not enjoyable, at least not terribly unpleasant. Wish me luck.

*Of course, I recognize that there are many religions which espouse forgiveness as a virtue. I speak of Christianity only because that is the religion with which I am most familiar.

Houston, We Have Lift Off

Last week, I attended a conference in The Big Easy – New Orleans. Collision Conference is always a grand experiment in mixing industries under one conference tent. Last year I focused on the marketing stage and attended a LOT of pitches. This year, I spent most of my time at the planet:tech stage, learning about the state of the industry in green/sustainability technology. It was very exciting! Of course I also met some really cool peeps on the Women In Tech pub crawl I attended, as well as on the convention floor.

On my way home, I had a 10 hour layover in Houston. For the first time in my life, I ventured past airport security in Texas and went to space! Space Center Houston, that is. My kid is already mad at me for going without him. Ha! Thing is, I wouldn’t have known how cool this place is if I hadn’t gone myself and now I will definitely make a point of going with him so that he can experience the magic. I have to – I promised!

My first stop at the Space Center was the blue tram tour – Historic Mission Control. OMG, I was SO EXCITED!! I sat in the first row during our introduction to mission control, right behind the Mission Director’s desk. I literally had tears in my eyes. Imagine the chutzpah this room has seen!

I wish we were still as enamored with space as we once were. Remember how we used to stop everything as a nation when a shuttle was launching? In schools, they’d wheel those big TVs into the classrooms – sometimes multiple classes would squeeze into one room to share a TV. At work, folks would go to the conference room to watch on the little TV hidden in the corner. People would stop in the street to watch on TVs in store windows (back when there were TVs in store windows!). This was before the days of the internet. Now the launches are live-streamed online! Which is cool, but…you lose out on a real sense of community this way. I prefer the old days when it was a group activity filled with awe and just a little trepidation.

On our way back from Mission Control, we stopped at Rocket Park to see the Saturn V rocket and a few others. That Saturn V is super impressive in person! At 120 yards tall (or long – it rests on its side so you can see the whole thing up close), it is longer than a football field. You can actually walk between two of the rocket segments, causing me to get all nerdy, checking out their cabling job (anyone who’s ever managed or worked in a data center knows what this entails). Unfortunately, my phone died before I could take any pics. I bought a postcard instead:

*This postcard is posted on my whiteboard at work. It inspires me.

There have been troubles along the road – the Apollo 13 mission failed to land on the moon as planned, but all three astronauts returned home safely. Sixteen years later, the astronauts on Space Shuttle Challenger did not even leave earth’s orbit successfully. It was heartbreaking to watch this play out in real time at school. It is the last time I can remember watching a launch live. Seventeen years later, a similar disaster occurred when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon reentry, killing all 7 astronauts aboard.

Despite these (and other, less-fatal) setbacks, the space program hasn’t stopped working to explore space. In fact, NASA intends to put humans on Mars by 2030! I guess I haven’t been paying attention because I was blown away. I know that they’ve sent rovers and such, but I didn’t know the plan to put human feet on the ground so soon.

I barely had time to check out the new Mars exhibit, because I went into the space shuttle replica mounted on the original NASA 905 shuttle carrier aircraft outside. So cool!

Throughout my visit to the Space Center, I couldn’t help but reflect on the ongoing bravery, perseverance, and hard work demonstrated by astronauts and the entire organization. I miss the days when our space travel was an active source of national pride. It gave us something positive around which to rally – not war, not enemies, not terror – but awe-inspiring courage and exploration of realms beyond this earth. It was inspirational and aspirational. Guys, we can do amazing things when we work together!

GRIND TIME

Ok, when folks say Rise & Grind, they’re not talking about coffee, but I couldn’t resist. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s still my reality, so I’m still talking about it. I’ve been working my butt off!

I’ve also been giving myself permission to enjoy the weekends, because I’ve been working as hard as I have been. This past weekend, some friends from our old neighborhood in Brooklyn came to visit, which was so much fun. We had a gorgeous hike up Multnomah Falls on Saturday, followed by Easter egg dying and a neighborhood walk on Sunday.

Yesterday, I was back to work! It was a very busy morning, and each phone call brought its own work. So today I will be cranking to get it all done! I also have a call coming up to discuss a proposal for a local nonprofit in the food industry. All things are looking good. And thank heavens – I have less than a month to make some dough before I have to ix-nay the ompany-cay to get a “real job”. GRIND TIME!!!

Peace and Creativity In Times of Doubt

This weekend, I started hiding rocks in my neighborhood. This is a thing that’s happening on the internet. The idea is that neighbors will find the rocks, and then post pictures to the neighborhood Rocks! group on Facebook. I’ve been somewhat jealously watching such a group form in our old Brooklyn neighborhood, sad that we aren’t there to participate. Then I thought… hey, I can start that here! And so I did.

I created a Facebook group last week, and then posted about it to the local parents’ board. We are now up to 17 members in just 4 days! Over the weekend, kiddo and I painted a bunch of rocks–and our next door neighbors came over and joined us! Then we hid a few rocks around the neighborhood.

My son was so excited to get started, that he began hiding rocks in our front yard. I tried to tell him that most people won’t pick up rocks from someone’s front yard, but he was optimistic. And so then we went down to the park and hid a few there. The picture above is actually from the high schooler who found one of our rocks! We “hid” it in plain site – on top of the water fountain by the basketball court. The same guy found my son’s rock, “hidden” on a bench nearby.

I’m excited to keep going. It’s amazing to start something like this and watch it grow from scratch. Yay! 😀

The best part of all this… is that I am taking a lot of steps simultaneously to  grow my business and increase my income. While this is definitely a feel good use of my time, it is also very stressful and I find myself riddled with doubt. It’s not doubt that I can do it so much as… just the inability to envision the reality. And so because I’m working toward something on faith, I am feeling pangs of doubt. But… I also believe very strongly that I’m headed in the right direction. So, there’s that!

My hope is that working on this creative endeavor, which is so fun for me to do, will help build my positive expectations. Fingers crossed!

Moving At the Speed Of Light

The past week has been CRAZY. Ok, not really. But it sure feels that way. I’ve got several projects going on for active clients, in addition to:

  1. responding to a government RFP due in a couple weeks,
  2. working toward Women-Owned-Business certification,
  3. prepping for taxes,
  4. responding to PSU student questions,
  5. and creating estimates for new prospects.

Literally every night, I’m waking in the middle of the night, dreaming up new things about work – ok, my new business cards should look like X; the new website has to include Y; etc.

Also, Heyyy! I’ve lost 17.5 pounds since January 1, 2017. High five!

Can I sleep now?

Demir, my productivity/systems coach, had me in tears last week. He said, I wonder what the Kelly who puts in a lot of effort looks like? Are you going to wait until you’re 70 to find out? And I cried. Then I discussed with my husband, who actually kind of defended me, as in I *do* put in a lot of effort. The thing is, Demir was tapping into my own fear that I’m not making enough effort. After talking with my husband I realized… maybe it’s not about the effort. Maybe my pain is because I’m not making enough money!

Here’s to mo’ money in 2017!

Dad: A Son’s First Hero

Our son attends a K-8 school, and although our kiddo is only in third grade, my husband volunteered to chaperone the middle school ski bus each Sunday in February. The bus organizer said it would be cool for him to bring our son along as long as his presence didn’t interfere with my husband’s chaperoning duties.

Yessterday was my son’s second voyage on the ski bus, and it turns out he loves snowboarding! Each time he’s gone up to Mt. Hood, he’s spent a couple hours in snowboarding lessons, then they meet for lunch, and then they spend the afternoon together on the bunny slope, with my husband coaching our son.

I drove up to meet them at the ski resort. I stood out in the snow for about an hour, watching my son slowly board down the bunnny slope, while my husband walked up and down the hill, assisting and coaching our son. About the 10th time I watched him get down on his knees and pull our son up, I thought… “man, that kid is LUCKY.”

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I am so, so grateful for the love and dedication that my husband shows to our son.

We’re All In It Together

Yesterday, I attended the small business open house, sponsored and hosted by Portland Metro. MAN! I met so many very helpful people there. One woman answered all my questions about becoming certified through the Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and Emerging Small Business (ESB) programs. Another woman explained all I need to know about small business taxes. And then there was a whole room full of government agency representatives available to talk about the contracts that are available for small businesses over the next year or so.

I spoke with representatives of the Small Business Administration, one of whom was very excited to learn that I work at NedSpace Broadway. Apparently she’s been speaking with Mark Grimes (the guy to know at NedSpace!).

Today, I am ever so grateful for the many opportunities that revealed themselves to me yesterday afternoon.

Onward and upward!

Aim High and Pay It Forward

If you’ve been following, then you know my business was selected as a community partner for this term’s PSU Senior Capstone project in the School of Business Administration. One of the students assigned to my business has agreed to go above and beyond the standard class assignment, and suggest some language for my website. She’s focusing on marketing and brand analysis.

One of the things she asked – before I asked her to suggest language – was if she could talk to some of my existing clients. Now I felt confident my clients would be happy to speak to her, but one never knows. So this week, I asked 4 clients if they’d be willing to participate either through written answers to a survey, or a phone conversation. All 4 said yes! Very exciting.

After I made the virtual introductions via email, I took a minute to appreciate these women – and yes, they are all women – for supporting me and my business. I have found that these clients in particular are happy to spend a few minutes on a call where I am ostensibly helping THEM with their website or some other online facet of their business, and help me through a problem I’m having in my business. It’s truly inspirational to me, and I look forward to paying it forward as time goes on!

When In Doubt, Visit Your Library

Never have I been so happy as my volunteer Thursdays, when my son’s class visits the school library. I get to play librarian – I check in their books, shelve them (the books, not the kids!), and then help them check out the new books the wish to take home.

Recently, his class has been learning about coding and typing (he’s in 3rd grade). He was so excited when I dropped him off at school this morning because it’s Thursday and that means he gets to play the typing game during library time! Bless.

This week and last, in honor of Valentine’s Day, the librarian created “Blind Date With A Book.” She wrapped a whole bunch of books, and stamped them for elementary or middle school readers. The kids can pick 1 book at a time, and they check it out without knowing what it is. They have to promise to *try* to read it, no matter what. It thrills my nerdy heart to see the kids so excited to find out which book they picked. Love!!

Experiencing my son’s joy in the library is a balm for my tired soul.

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