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Showing posts from 2019

A Letter to Sixteen Year Old Me

Dear Sixteen Year Old Me,

I know life is awful.  You are unpopular and often ridiculed.  People say things like "high school is the best time of your life" and you worry that if this is the best then what hell is going to happen next.  You are berated and picked on for your looks, your interests, even your work ethic.  The boys you like never like you back.  You work long hours after work, which almost saves you from having to explain having no social life.  Sometimes even against your nature, you cry before school because it's such a misery to you.

You won't believe it, but in the years to come, this will be a small blip in your rear view mirror.  You will grow and thrive in adult situations, having been prepared for this throughout your childhood.  You will leave high school a capable person, academically accomplished but also with a practical knowledge about the world that will give you peace of mind.

You are counting the days until school is over, but your educat…

Signs of Cultural Decline in the Workplace

It is surprising to me that sometimes organizational leaders are unaware that they are tolerating (or have created) a toxic culture.  I recognize that senior leaders are not mired in the weeds on a day to day basis and they perhaps don't get enough face time with people to see the early decline in morale, but the signs of a bad culture can sometimes be spotted by just looking around.

I've had discussions about this with leaders within my organization as well as outside of it.  Someone once made a comment about the state of the bathrooms and my first reaction was, "people who are proud of where they work don't do that."

I made the comment off the cuff and sort of flippantly but the more I think about it the more I realize that it is true.  There are a lot of things people do in their behaviors or the way they present themselves and their work spaces that indicate they do not have any pride in their job.

Disgruntled employees can be occasional.  Every workplace has…

An Immigration Story

Seventeen years ago today, I moved to the United States; an immigrant filled with hope and uncertainty!

I feel grateful that in these times of political turmoil over immigration that I am a libertarian and uncommitted to the staunch political ideals of Democrats and Republicans on the immigration issue.

We discuss immigration often in terms of statues, laws, permits and authorizations and we forget the humanity that lives behind those documents, sometimes in fear.  I may not necessarily look the part of a struggling immigrant, but I too have felt that fear.

From a theoretical perspective, I believe in an ordered method for documenting who is in the country.  We should know who is here.  I also believe many of the laws we have in place, even those in place to show compassion to those who came here as children, fail to provide a final solution to the immigration problem.  This leaves many people feeling like they have no other home, and yet no path to citizenship in this country where t…

My Father's Father - The Influence of Other Generations

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I was born in the early 1980s, making me an early millennial (or perhaps a Xennial if you subscribe to this theory of a subjoining micro generation between generation X and the millennials).  I don't demonstrate many of the characteristics associated with millenials, and sometimes I wonder how I came by some of the positions that I currently hold - a modern woman in a modern world, but with some very traditional ideas.  Many millennials were born to generation Xers, but my parents are both baby boomers.

My father was born immediately after WWII.  His dad was a laborer throughout the war, possibly as a civilian in the armed forces.  As soon as the chaos of the war period died down, in the enthusiasm of peacetime, he celebrated with his wife and she conceived, probably rather unexpectedly, as she was 41 years old when my dad was born.

My dad's father and mother were born in 1904 and 1905, respectively.  They were married in 1930 and had a few children through the the thirties, t…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part Four

Any acknowledgement of the strong women in my life would be incomplete without mentioning the strongest influence I have had in this: my mom.

Growing up, I think I felt like everyone had a life and parents like mine.  We didn't have a lot of money, I figured no one did.  My parents were fairly strict but also easy going, I thought everyone's were.  My family faced a lot of hardships with my dad's health, but my mom always remained so calm that I thought this was just normal.  It wasn't until I was in my pre-teens I think that I started realizing that my family was odd!

My mom had a difficult upbringing, to understate it.  She did not grow up the way I did, in a secure and loving home, having some degree of certainty.  As a little girl when my mom would challenge me to try things I remember thinking to myself, "my mom would never let anything bad happen to me."  I don't believe my mom grew up with this same confidence.

Of course, the woman I know as my mom…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part Three

Continuing in my series about strong women, I am focusing on a woman today that I have only recently been blessed to know.  I actually hired this woman six months ago, and I sometimes wonder if in my long working life to come if I will always look back on hiring her as one of my wisest choices.

She is a young woman, newly married, an expectant mother.  Like me, she is also an immigrant to this country.  Like me, she was raised to be a contributor.  Not even yet six months with the company, she has long been independent and rising to the expectations.  She takes on new tasks and challenges, she figures out who she needs to talk to, she communicates effectively, closes the loop.  She makes my life easier when I don't have to worry about things being handled correctly.

I think of many women I have known that are my age and younger, many of whom have a certain millennial sense of entitlement.  I have seen many women in this age group whine (literally) that they are "too young&quo…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part Two

I continue to reflect on the strong women that I know and who have influenced and inspired me.  As I examine these women they share certain traits but in other ways they are dramatically different.

Today I am reflecting on my best friend.  In some ways, she is a feisty, opinionated, outspoken woman who isn't afraid to express herself.  In others, she is soft, compassionate and serves others.

She is a hard worker and a provider for her family, but not in a traditional sense.  She takes care of others, though she is a single woman with no children.  She has chosen this freely, empowered not to feel burdened to live up to someone else's expectation of womanhood.  She takes pleasure in being an aunt - a cool and indulgent aunt, helping influence the children she is around to grow up to be funny, capable, confident adults.

She excels at what she does in her career, being sought for promotions rather than seeking them.  She isn't afraid of early mornings or long hours, and I som…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part One

I have been reflecting how fortunate I have been to know and be influenced by so many strong women in my life - and men that support and empower those women as well.  As a woman, I am very supportive of true female equality.  I do not tend to embrace all of the modern aspects of the feminist movement, but I am aligned with the traditional tenets of female equality.  I believe men and women are different in many ways, in necessary ways, that in teams and friendships and families those differences complement one another.

Strong women are not always the same, but they share certain traits.  Resiliency, adaptability, personal accountability, true kindness (and not superficial 'sweetness') are some of those threads that seem to be common throughout the strong women I know.

I want to shine a light on those women, as they have inspired me and influenced me, and continue daily to make an impact on my life.

The first woman I thought of when thinking about this series of posts was a wom…

Today I Became an American Citizen

On March 30, 2002 - almost 17 years ago - my family and I disembarked from an airplane in Houston, Texas.  Our new home.

I had long dreamed of moving to America, Texas specifically.  As a fifteen year old in high school, I remember telling a classmate, "before I am 21, I will be living in Texas."  I had absolutely no line of sight as to how I would accomplish this but I was willing to talk a pretty big game.

My dream came true two months before my 19th birthday. Even though it was a dream come true, it took a while before I began to view Texas as my true home.  One summer in 2005 I had gone out of state for a week, and as we crossed back into Texas I experienced for the first time that I was coming home.

Today, after many years, I became an American citizen.

It is sort of a surreal experience.  For ten years, I have carried a green card in my wallet.  For years before that, some other type of paper documentation to support my existence here.  I have stood in international st…

Functioning as an Introvert in an Extrovert World!

Most people who know me only from workplace or social situations are surprised to learn that I am an introvert.  I am never afraid to chime in with an opinion, lead a discussion or run a meeting.  I dislike small talk but I am not afraid to open up conversations with strangers or make them feel comfortable.  I have been given feedback that I come across as cheerful and enthusiastic.

However, this all comes at a cost to me.  I am a high functioning introvert in these situations, but it requires me to be outside of my comfort zone.  After a full day of this, I find myself exhausted.  Just speaking at length makes me so tired.

I have learned to find ways to cope with this.  We can't really change who we are or how we are wired, but we can find ways to adapt to the pressures of our environments.  Being aware of our needs makes it easier to strategize ways to function while not causing too much suffering to ourselves (sometimes a small amount of suffering is unavoidable!).

This week wa…

A Plea for Women to Stop Judging Other Women In Their Reproductive Journeys!

One thing I wish, as we continue to reflect on women and our empowerment, is that we would stop passing our opinions down on other women as to when or if they should be mothers, how long they should breast feed, how to parent their kids, or any number of "none of your business" topics that come with reproduction.

I have been down this road for a long time.  I have written before about my struggle with infertility.  In my twenties I tried for years and years to conceive without success.  During this time, a lot of female coworkers made comments to me like, "by the time I was your age I had two kids, don't you like children?"  Saying this to a woman struggling with infertility is just the most absolutely ignorant thing you can do.

Never shy and always feisty, I started cracking back at them with the journey I was on and would say, "But thank you for so rudely drawing attention to my struggle."  Unkind perhaps, but sometimes this is the only way people l…

Women Helping Women Succeed

Today is International Women's Day and as I reflect upon that I wanted to share a recent conversation I had with a female leader in my life.  
Over the course of my working life, I have had a lot of interaction with both men and women but in every role that I have had I have reported directly to a woman.  I like dealing with women, I like working with women and over the years I have better learned to manage how I am managed by women, but even still, there are struggles.
I was telling this leader how in the past I have been told by my female management that I have no leadership ability, or worse, they stick me into roles where I am disengaged from people, getting no visibility, hidden away.  I described it as feeling like someone is always trying to put a lid on me.
She stated that for some women, seeing confident and capable women makes them feel insecure or threatened.  I asked why they wouldn't just leverage that strength for the benefit of the team rather than trying to dim…

My Kaizen Experience: Personal Growth

Over the past few weeks I have been engaged in a truly empowering and mind-opening experience at work.  I was leading a team for our local Shingijutsu Kaizen event, which was entirely new to me.  I was previously familiar with kaizen principles - and throughout my masters degree program I was certainly experienced in using lean tools and process improvement - but a kaizen event, especially of this magnitude, was new to me.

Last fall, I was in the process of restructuring my department and for about two months I worked 70 hours a week, so when Christmas time came along I was very pleased to be back to normal hours.  When I was presented the challenge of leading a kaizen team in early January, I freely admit that I accepted with a bit of resignation.  Thankfully, I am genuinely passionate about patient care, and I am a deeply competitive person.  Finding innovative, competitive ways to enhance patient care is exciting to me.

The details of the project and the tremendous work that went i…

Grace and Dignity in Difficult Times

Sometime back, a situation arose at work where someone was behaving pretty disrespectfully.  When I called attention to this, I was told, "she is going through some things at home" and that I needed to give her a break.

I took exception to this.  There are some things I would gladly overlook or have compassion for when there are issues.  Sometimes when people have a lot on their mind they forget things, they overlook things, they make mistakes.  But to behave with blatant disrespect didn't seem acceptable, regardless of what was going on behind the scenes.

Recently, a friend and coworker of mine went through a truly heartbreaking time - for the second time.  I won't go into the details of her situation, but with her permission I will allude to it.  This woman has been dealt a very tough hand, and yet all I see in her is grace and dignity. 

I had sort of a revelation about this in a meeting a few weeks ago.  I had just heard the news about the difficult time she was f…

My Thus Far Experience with Rosetta Stone

I started using Rosetta Stone to learn French a little over a month ago.  I hesitate to call this a review, because one month is not long enough to tell whether I will be successful at this.  However, one month in I definitely have some opinions to share!

So, to start, I bought the electronic version of this from Rosetta Stone itself on a pre-Christmas deal.  I believe the 2 year subscription package I bought was normally $250 for one code to be used on the app and on the desktop.  However, I got two codes for $150.  I felt like this was a pretty good deal, and I was able to give that code to my sister so she can learn with me!

I should preface anything further by stating that I am a dunce at second languages.  I managed to avoid them in high school by taking law, economics, keyboarding...anything at all to keep me away from it.  When I was attending a local college to get my basics for my degree, there was a requirement for a second language.  I took the first level of Spanish.  I wa…

Review: Vega One All-In-One Shakes

I've written before about my food sensitivities and how discovering them has helped me make better choices about what I eat and how it affects me.  I have long known that I am lactose intolerant, and so I have often struggled to find protein shakes that do not contain milk products.

I had read that some people with lactose intolerance can manage Muscle Milk but I tried that and felt so bloated after a couple days I thought something was wrong with me!  I stopped drinking them and immediately felt better so I knew that option was out.

I had found Orgain Organic Nutrition Plant Based Vegan protein shakes, pre-made and easy to transport.  While not exactly delicious, they were very smooth and creamy for plant based protein.  I find plant based protein powders and drinks can be a little on the chalky side. While this shake definitely didn't make me feel as bloated as Muscle Milk, I was still struggling.  Taking a closer look at the ingredients, it contains chia protein, and alas, …

Taking out the Trash

Home organization and de-cluttering blogs and vlogs are becoming increasingly popular.  As people become busier, their home lives become more disorganized and messy.  Popular TV shows like Netflix' "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" and YouTube stars such as Mrs. Hinch have amassed huge followings by people who are eager to learn tips about cleaning and decluttering their living spaces.  Mrs. Hinch's followers even have a nickname - Hinchers!

I have no trouble with keeping my living space clean.  I am a neat freak, and inherently driven to organize.  I am not a minimalist, but I do embrace the less is more approach.  I have recently simplified my life from carrying a standard purse to carrying only a wallet sized clutch, and I recently donated several huge boxes of clothes to charity in an attempt to make my closet more practical.  I have no problem letting go.

But sometimes it is not our living spaces that need a cleaning up, it is our lives.  Our habits, our pastimes, o…

The Year of No Excuses!

I always run into a few pet peeves in January.  One is increased congestion of "resolutioners" in gyms and on the pathways where I get my miles.  These are the folks who get out there hard core at the start of January but by month end they have disappeared.  Another is the often repeated and rarely completed goals of people to lose weight, save money, or achieve other goals that they talk a big game about in January but by March have long been forgotten.

Worse are the people who, instead of making resolutions, make excuses.  They often go like this: I can't lose weight because of genetics/hormones/stress - it's never "I can't lose weight because I eat fast food for lunch at least four days a week, I'm fairly sedentary and I overeat at every meal."  Or: I can't save money because I don't make enough.  It's never "I have poor spending habits and make bad financial choices and therefore I do not save money."  Or: I can't fulfi…

Day Zero Project - Progress Report

2019 is underway and on December 3 of this year, my Day Zero Project time will be up and I will calculate how many of my goals that I have achieved.  As a recap, this list tracks 101 goals you intend to accomplish in 1001 days (which is 2.75 years)   I feel like I set myself a very ambitious list of things to do and so far I have done well.  Some of the harder things I included on my list that I have completed:


Paying off all my personal debt (which was a substantial amount)Finishing my graduate degreeDoing a half marathon for 12 consecutive monthsWalking a full marathon distanceSquat the weight of my body on a bar (I actually squatted 10lbs more than I weighed at the time!) My list is actually comprised of 110 goals, not just 100, and of those goals I have completed 54%, with 7 goals currently in progress.
I am hoping to fail less than 10 of the goals, and look forward to scheduling in some of the more fun and less serious of the goals this spring, including visiting several museums, …

Review: Sheet Suspenders

One of my pet peeves is when the corners of the bed sheets start sliding off the bed after a couple of nights.  You wash your bedding, it's all fresh and snug on the mattress and then within a few days it's shifting, slipping off the corners and bunching up.
I always buy nice sheets.  I like the softness and how they hold up with frequent washing.  I like that they are intended to stay put on the mattress.  However, my thick and plushy mattress just seems to be too much of a match for even the best sheets, but I found the ultimate solution!
Sheet Suspenders, which I purchased on Amazon for less than twenty bucks, stretch underneath the mattress to create an X, clipping gently and safely to each of the four corners.  This holds them into place firmly without damaging the fabric of the sheet.  I have been using them now for about three months and I love them.
I was worried they would take a bit of finagling to get into place but I have been able to do it by myself and re-clip the…