Three weeks ago I was filled with excitement for a family trip to Germany. We packed up, grabbed our passports and hitched a ride to the airport. After 10 exhausting hours on a direct flight from Denver to Munich, we met up with my beautiful German family. We were only half delirious as we navigated the Bavarian country side to our vacation rental. We laughed as we passed several McDonald’s, joking that our travel companion (who has a very American palate) would not starve if the local cuisine didn’t suit him.
I wanted to focus this post on fun aspects of our trip, tips for traveling with young kids, the importance of keeping family connections alive even over great distances. However, on our 8th day in Germany, I received the tragic news that my father passed away. Just a few hours later we were speaking with Lufthansa seeking the first flight home. I was blessed to be surrounded by family when I got the news, but in my heart I knew I had to be with my sister. I hurried home to be with her. Continue reading
I have a dirty little secret, and it’s called The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I love this show. I’ve watched it since its first season and have never missed an episode. People are always surprised when I tell them this, considering how my usual topics for discussion are finances, development, and growth. Admittedly this isn’t the only reality show I watch since I’ve already written about my appreciation for Fixer Upper, but the RHONJ is the only one I regularly DVR.
Partly I love watching this show to see the gorgeous homes and stylish accessories, but also because of all the shows in the Housewives franchise this one pays homage to an “old school” mentality. My mom was German and I very closely identify with that part of my heritage, but my dad grew up in an Irish Italian Catholic household. While my mom set the tone for our family traditions and holidays, my dad set a discipline that aligns closely with old world values. On top of gender expectations on how to be good girls and do our part, my sister and I were taught about standing our ground, not snitching and the hierarchy of loyalty. Because RHONJ is centered around the lives of Italian American families, many of these themes are shown. The women all say they align with them…even when they don’t, and that’s when the drama happens. Continue reading
In 2013 Angelina Jolie wrote an article about her medical decision to pursue a double mastectomy after she learned of her increased risks for breast and ovarian cancer because she inherited the BRCA1 gene mutation. Shortly after writing this story Melissa Etheridge, a breast cancer survivor, explained in an interview that she felt Jolie’s decision was ”fearful” rather than brave.
Etheridge explained her perspective by saying, “My belief is that cancer comes from inside you and so much of it as to do with the environment of your body. It’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not. Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything but it never comes to cancer so I would say to anybody faced with that, that choice is way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do and to really consider the advancements we’ve made in things like nutrition and stress levels.”
I agree with her that disease is often triggered by stress and therefore prevented by taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. Yet her words rubbed me the wrong way. For a long time her remarks about Jolie’s choice annoyed me, but I couldn’t place why. Then I had a realization. Continue reading
Somebody who used to be close with my family thinks I’m a villain. Ok, maybe not that I’m an outright villain, but definitely that I’m a bad guy. For the time that we were close, I gave advice and friendship by encouraging her personal development. My typical advice was along the lines of, be respectful of others, make prudent choices, get active and involved, give more than you get, start with small goals to build momentum for large goals, etc. Essentially, I gave to her the exact same content that I write about here. I was being myself and offering the rules I live by – and that’s the problem. I repeatedly offered the rules I live by. Continue reading
I met with a senior leader and she asked how a project I contribute to was progressing. This project is demanding, has high visibility and has become a source of ongoing stress. During our meeting I explained how I felt a partner who plays a pivotal role was creating unnecessary roadblocks. Essentially they had a process to follow that required steps to happen in a certain way for a certain amount of time. Because the project required a compressed timeline and my team has been pressed to meet these objectives, I was frustrated that this partner was throwing up red flags and causing delays.
As I moaned about this to my leader, she told me the following – while it seemed obvious to me that this project deserved special consideration, my partner, whose performance is rated on adherence to defined processes, could only see substantial risk. Continue reading
In life you will have to say things you’d rather not say. This could be for the betterment of a family, work group, or social circle. Having difficult conversations is a sign of personal growth and shows a desire to help others with their growth. It’s a teaching role, and it’s challenging. Continue reading