Showing posts from 2019

My Objection to Closing the Door on Healthy Debate

I have been troubled lately by friends and acquaintances who refuse to discuss politics with me - perhaps because I am a "crazy" third party voter, or perhaps because I come to every discussion perfectly equipped with sources and facts - and they yet share things on social media that I find borderline offensive in some ways. But they don't want me to broach the subjects with them, as they believe it will harm our friendship. But somehow they think it will not harm the friendship to post these openly and yet close the door on healthy debate.

I am indeed a "foolish third party voter" - I do indeed "waste" my vote by believing in change, a different track and breaking free of a two party system where I believe the two parties aren't truly that different from one another. However, once long ago, I was a conservative that supported the Republican party, because I believed that party was most aligned with the values of freedom and personal responsibilit…

Myers Briggs Type Indicator - Communicating Better

At some point during my time in university, as part of my leadership courses, we were asked to take the Myers Briggs (MBTI) test, which asks some questions to determine a little about your personality type, how you communicate, and how you see the world.

This is not a test meant to put people into boxes. It is meant to shed a some light on how we might better communicate with one another after understanding them and ourselves a little better. It's not a road map to our lives; it's a mirror to ourselves and a window to others, allowing for better understanding between people.

There are a few places to take this test online, the official MBTI test is here, which is what I took while in school, or also this one that is a little more engaging and fun!  What you'll surmise quickly is that there are 16 different types and it comes down to four letters.  My type: ISTP (introverted-sensing-thinking-perceiving).

This image helps a bit understanding the different components of how t…

I Was Nearly Killed by a Drunk Driver

It's pretty much common sense to agree people shouldn't drink and drive. Yet, people do and if you pull up your county bookings online (public record) you can find people are getting charged with this everyday.

My family has been wrought with the pain and consequences of this. My mom has buried more than one family member due to someone else on the road driving while intoxicated. And last week, it could have been me she had to bury.
It was Friday evening, it was around 8:30pm and the sun was inching closer to the horizon. I was listening to my music while out for my workout. I was on my normal circuit for five miles, enjoying the evening.
Unexpectedly, a driver coming toward me ran off the road, popped his tire and didn't stop, hit the curb again, popped another tire, and slammed full blast into a light pole, taking the light pole down. The only thing that prevented the pole from crashing into the roof of his vehicle was it got snagged on a power line, which was now dangli…

Gaining Confidence with Age

The past few weeks I have been engaged in some training initiatives for my new role at work. This training has involved a lot of new material and experiences and has required me to interact with tons of people I don't know and from business segments to which I am still pretty unfamiliar. When I got home from work last night, after a long week or learning, interacting and so much socialization, I told my sister that it is hard to imagine myself ten or fifteen years ago having the confidence to do this.
It led into an interesting discussion about confidence increasing with years. I have always been a confident person, even when I have been the underdog, even when I have been openly disparaged for my beliefs or opinions (I think back to a project in my high school economics class were I proposed privatization of health care and education - I was ridiculed). However, I have always been very comfortable in these situations and therefore I was confident.
And that led me to the realizati…

My Changing Perspective on Environmentalism

In my youth and early adulthood, I gave very little concern to the environment. I didn't trouble myself over people who littered, or my excessive consumption of single use plastic. I didn't worry about what pesticides did to the ecosystem. I didn't care. 
Even in high school and on college campuses, when the young people were such staunch advocates of a pro-environmentally friendly agenda, I wasn't swayed. These people also had very liberal economic ideas that I disagreed with, and truthfully, I worried that by aligning myself with their environmental views I'd be perceived as being another young liberal college student, when in fact in my early adulthood I was staunchly conservative.
Perhaps I should be ashamed of my slow progress toward a more enlightened view on the environment, but there is no shame in telling the truthful story about progress. I was ignorant about where I stood as a young person, due in some part to the manipulative messaging by the media and …

The Funny Way I Learned to be Resourceful

I was having an amusing recollection the other night, discussing with my mom how sensitive I am to my house being untidy.  I know precisely what needs to be done, and I truly have trouble sleeping if I know there are dishes piled up in the sink!

My husband does not share this problem. He is very content, very comfortable whether the house is spotless or a little untidy. However, if we have a cupboard door in need of repair or something wrong with an appliance, it bothers him tremendously. A duct-tape solution does not appease him, he wants a true fix. And it is funny to me that I am not troubled by those things.

I remember the house I grew up in very well. It was less than 1000 square feet, one functional bathroom, 6 people in the house. Cramped quarters is an understatement. The house was built in the 1930s and had all the beautiful charms of a pre-WWII home, with stucco and archways and high windows. It also, however, wasn't built for modern inventions such as dishwashers or hig…

Fearing Boredom More Than Change

I'm about to make a career change at work that is unlike anything I have tried before.  I am leaving the side of the business where I have established myself for ten years, where I have made connections and learned functions and developed different skills, and I am moving into a sales role.

Ten years ago, it would have been mind boggling to me to even consider such a change. I have always felt that I was far too wired for internal business, learning and working inside of operations. However, in the last few years I have worked more and more closely with our sales team, built relationships with them and seen how they work, and I began to speculate if this was something I could enjoy. Where hard work could result in personal reward, where I could be, in a small way, the master of my own fate.  I see my sister do this and excel and I became curious and very open to the idea.

I have recently had some change within the function I have been working within in my current role and it had f…

Review: Aladdin 2019

I am not a movie buff by any means, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the new Aladdin movie that is currently in theaters. Prior to seeing it myself, I had seen some reviews, some good but some pretty bad.

Full disclosure, the 1992 animated version of Aladdin is one of my all time favorite movies - probably in my top 3.  So I went into this reboot with excitement and also the fear that it would ruin both movies for me!

The original Aladdin's great triumph is of course the amazing talent of Robin Williams as the Genie. You realize how uniquely important his talent was when you watch the sequel movie The Return of Jafar. His replacement for Genie in this movie is none other than Dan Castellaneta, renowned of The Simpsons - however, even his talent cannot bring Genie to life the way Robin Williams does.

So, how difficult it must have been for Will Smith to step into the live action shoes of the Genie, where he is not only the voice but the face of a character originally made famou…

Undisciplined Morning Routines?

I recently read an article on Forbes that made me scoff repeatedly throughout, an article about the importance of establishing a morning routine. I am often curious about the daily routines of successful people; what they read and when they exercise, and so on. It can only help me find inspiration to improve my own routines. However, this particular article made me roll my eyes at how terribly undisciplined adults have become.

The article talks about tips for making sure you get yourself out of bed on time every day, including having a bed time routine. Adults must be told this?  I require my own epiphany on this topic, which occurred when I was in the 11th grade. Actually, I knew it long before this, but I had a defining experience in chemistry class early one morning in 11th grade and caused me to commit to a disciplined bedtime routine.

I had worked late the night before, and had come home wanting to wind down a bit before I went to bed. I woke up for school the next morning on so …

What Motivates Me

We all need money to make a living.  I have bills to pay and I am blessed that I have never had to default on my bills (despite difficult times).  I have my personal preferences for brands - I do not buy a lot but I like to buy nice things: brand name sunglasses and perfume.  I even have a side hustle (more on that later!) where I have a lot of fun making a little extra money.

But money is not what motivates me.  In most instances, for me money is the necessity to make a living.  I am economical, easy to please and good at managing my resources.  My entire living room is furnished with hand me down furniture that I mixed and matched to make a comfy home.  I buy my jeans and dresses on eBay.  I cook at home.  I live simply and therefore do not require a ton of money to make a happy life.

In the workplace, leaders are always trying to find ways to motivate their employees and for many people tangible incentives and money are the primary motivators.  When budgets are tight, that is diffi…

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

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…