The Enliven Project Blog

Crying at Work

How is it that crying in the office can be considered unprofessional when yelling at someone is acceptable behavior?  In some professions, yelling is actually expected and yellers are seen as powerful and effective.  This seems absurd. I cried at work this week.  And I’m admitting it to all of you.  I felt overwhelmed by all the organizational change occurring and, after a tense meeting, shed a few tears while debriefing with a trusted colleague. I have very mixed feelings about crying at work - as a woman, as a professional, and as a manager.  Let’s be clear here.  I’m not talking about whining.  I do not have mixed feelings about whining - there is no place for whining at work.  I’m also not talking about falling down on the ground, nose running, hysterical sobbing.  I’m talking about welling up, voice breaking, or tears that you can talk through. I’m not sure where I picked up negative messages about crying in the workplace, but there are a few that seem to have stuck: Crying makes you seem weak. Crying is stereotypically female - which is a bad thing. People won’t take you seriously if you cry When I wrote this down, I realized how ludicrous these messages were and how they didn’t really align with my beliefs about women, humanity, OR the workplace.  And, in fact, there are a number of really GOOD reasons to cry at work: Crying when angry.  When I’m angry, I can feel the tears coming.  It’s a completely automatic physical reaction to anger.  Some people turn red in the face or neck.  I well up.  I have always beat myself up over this “show of weakness,” but I’m thinking I [...]

The Things I Love About Kevin Jennings

Last Friday, I found out that my very awesome boss, Kevin Jennings, accepted a position to lead the Arcus Foundation, a foundation that focuses on making the world a more humane and just place for the vulnerable - with a focus on the Great Apes and LGBT communities.  I am beyond sad about his departure - though he’s leaving for good reasons to go on and do good things - but I loved every minute of every day we worked together.  Sometimes these transition moments pass us by and we don’t take the opportunity to tell people how we feel about them.  Perhaps this is why we have funerals.  But why wait for a eulogy to praise people?  (Besides, I’m sure there is a long list of people who would like to speak at Kevin’s funeral, so I might not make the cut!)   Do, defer, delegate. Kevin just does things.  I think that’s awesome.  Maybe it’s because he’s older and more confident than I am, but I think I second-guess things more than he does.  He helped me get over my hesitation about delegating things I didn’t think were “interesting projects.”  For example, he once calculated how much time I spent on our database, and said, “Do you really think it’s worth 10% of your week?  What else could you be doing with that time?” Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. I told this to Kevin once, and he said, “Great, so I’m teaching you to be mediocre!”  That’s not at all the case.  Sometimes it’s important to remember that good enough might just be good enough, and to save your best work for the things that are really important.  Perfectionism is [...]

Heartspoken: You Already Survived

Thank you to So Lucky To Be Me Tees for providing the gear for this shoot - and a powerful message of hope and strength for women!    

Like Peanut Butter: Finding My Path

“You understand yourself so well, why are you here?” It was the beginning of my freshman year of college when the therapist I had been seeing for a couple of months asked me this question. I was silent for a moment and finally responded, “Because I can’t stop hurting myself.” It was true. Since I arrived on campus, I was on a downward spiral of starving, purging, over-exercising, drinking, and cutting.  The cycle started Monday morning when I woke up promising to be good for the week by sticking to my “diet” of 750 calories per day and working out at least once a day if not twice.  I’d usually make it until Wednesday, maybe Thursday, when I’d fall off the wagon with a bowl of pasta or slice of pizza at a study night.  Angry at myself, the slip would turn into a night of drinking, resulting in more feelings of self-hatred, shame, and despair.  And then I’d wake up and start the cycle all over again.  I was drinking 12 cups of coffee a day to keep myself going, and had a full class load and busy college schedule. The therapist was right though. I did know exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it - I knew that controlling my body and what went into it was about being sexually assaulted.  I knew that cutting myself was a distorted way of feeling something real.  But talking about it didn’t seem to help.  It was like I could hear myself telling her these things and hear them at the same time. I was scared but I didn’t know what to do.  I knew this woman couldn’t help me.   Luckily, [...]

This post is about you (yes, you!)

Being connected to people makes me happy. I remember someone telling me, upon the birth of their second child, that your heart just gets bigger. Love is infinite, but life is not. Most of us don’t spend enough time growing our hearts. Facebook and other social networking sites can certainly bring out our competitive edge - who has a better job, a cuter boyfriend or girlfriend, a more adorable kid - but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to for Metta, the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness. Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist thinker and writer, has a simple and wonderful loving-kindness meditation: May you be filled with lovingkindness. May you be safe from inner and outer dangers. May you be well in body and mind. May you be at ease and happy. Is the connection to Facebook clear yet? For me, learning about the ups and downs of people’s lives is a wonderful opportunity to practice loving kindness - to send compassion to people near and far, close friends, acquaintances, and even random Twitter followers. But I said that this post was about you, and it is. I thought you should know that I’m paying attention - and sending you good vibes near and far - and care and am fascinated by all the things you do in your life. Your stories and photos have gotten me through long nights with the baby, early mornings, and boring commutes. They fill the spaces of my days and weeks and months and remind me that we aren’t alone, that there are more things that unite us than divide us, that our senses of humor will take us further than our politics, and that it’s fun to like people and things [...]

Add women and stir?

In college, Professor Lynn Davidman, taught me that you can’t simply “add women and stir.”  The concept was simple.  If you add a new ingredient to a dish, the flavor of the dish - and often the dish itself - completely changes.  If you add women to organizations, roles, and communities that have been created by and for men, the very nature of these things change both in small ways and big ways. In the hullabaloo following AnnMarie Slaughter’s provocative and thoughtful article, “Why Women Can’t Have it All,” men and women have been debating the concept of “having it all,” lamenting on feminism and women’s choices, discussing work-family balance, and noting the absence of economic status in many of the discussions about women and work. Personally, I have two observations relevant to this debate. 1.  Each time women achieve a new level of power and influence in the professional world, we move to a deeper - and often contentious - process of redefining our main societal structures: work, home/family, and community.  If women grounded the family and wove community, we can’t expect family and community to look the same when women enter the workforce.  We can’t expect foreign service to look the same when a woman becomes secretary of state, when women like Anne-Marie Slaughter have big powerful jobs. 2.  American culture, built on the best and worst aspects of capitalism, places a high value on work and professional achievement - often above everything else.   This is true for men and women of all backgrounds and economic statuses.  We care about where people work, how much they work, and believe that work defines us as humans.  Until 40 years ago, the workplace was [...]

  • twitter-bird-blue-on-white
    Twitter, I get it now. Twitter, I get it now.

    Twitter, I get it now.

  • Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /homepages/28/d358518096/htdocs/wp-content/themes/Avada/new-slideshow.php on line 132

Twitter, I get it now.

I think I finally understand what Twitter is all about. I know, I’m a little late to the game, but cut me some slack- technically I’m a GenXer not a Millennial.  Both Facebook and Twitter are like parties, with a different set of guests and styles. Facebook has always made sense to me.  It’s like a giant online reunion of everyone you have ever met in life - a never ending gathering of friends and acquaintances from high school, college, every job you have ever had, a few parties, and inevitably includes some folks you dated, kissed, or crushed on.  People know who you are but don’t necessarily know random things about your life or how life has changed over the years. I’m not bothered by the voyeuristic quality of Facebook.  In fact, I love it. It reminds you that much of life is about shared experiences, similar joys and sorrows, and that we are all more connected than we appear to be.  Facebook keeps you updated on the basics and serves as a conversation starter, opening up the possibility of deeper discussions in person. My guess is that younger folks (younger than 35) use Facebook differently, and there is more fluidity between online and offline interactions.  But I can’t be sure (guest blogger anyone?). Twitter, on the other hand, is like a giant party with everyone in the world.  And you - yes you!- get to decide who  to talk to (users) and what you want to talk about (hashtags).  You can talk to celebrities and journalists or friends and colleagues.  You can talk about causes, share news articles or jokes, or anything random that strikes your fancy.  And you can do it in [...]

More than just snot and vomit

So I wondered how I would follow up a deeply personal post like my last one - and then my son got sick.  And it got me thinking about my pediatrician and how AWESOME she is.  I’ve become convinced that pediatrics is 90% customer service and 10% medicine.    I really thought I would be a tough customer, and yet I remain thrilled - and fascinated - by what it takes to run an office geared towards keeping kids healthy and safe.  Before having my own child, I would have had no idea how to evaluate or think about selecting a doctor for my baby, and I was so stressed when we had to name our pediatrician on our hospital intake forms BEFORE he was even born. A few things that make our practice great: Excellent off-hours support. This is key. I never feel like I have woken someone out of a sound sleep or interrupted them when I call. The answering service is excellent and a nurse calls back. Our practice even has evening and weekend hours which has saved us more than one trip to the emergency room.    This is especially helpful because - as I learned through my last after-hours phone call - babies’ fevers tend to go up at night. Never made me feel rushed. Not even when our then newborn needed to nurse and then get a diaper change or three at exactly our scheduled appointment time. Not even when we showed up with a wheezing baby ten minutes before office was supposed to close, and he still needed to eat dinner.  The doctor and nurses were super laid back, gave us time to dress him, feed him, and ask as many questions as we had. The [...]

The First Time I Told Anyone

I’ve referenced telling my story for BARCC in previous posts but haven’t actually told it here. This is the 5-minute version I tell at speaking engagements. Obviously, condensing a 25-year journey into 5 minutes is no easy challenge, but here it is: When I was eleven, my parents, brother, and I went to visit my grandparents in Oregon. I loved visiting my grandparents. My grandmother was full of energy and creativity - we would wake up early and go pick blackberries by the ocean, talking about life and sharing stories. My grandfather was somewhat of a mystery to me, but I had great affection for him, especially because he was sick with Parkinson’s disease. On that trip however, in the summer of 1988, my grandparents molested me. My grandfather felt my breasts while my parents and brother were out for a walk. And my grandmother took a bath with me where she touched me Inappropriately. Now, this wasn’t the first time I was sexually assaulted nor would it  be the last time, but it was the first time I told anyone. That night, I told my mom what had happened and I remember that all the color drained from her face. I thought she was mad at me, and I felt scared about what was going to happen. She left the room, and I heard lots of talking and whispering. The next day, my dad sat my grandfather down for a talk. I heard muffled, intense voices. And then we stayed the rest of our visit. When we went home, everything went back to normal. Except I didn’t feel normal at all. Over the course of the next six years, I just felt worse and worse. I tried to cope with my feelings the best way I could, but I was just a kid. [...]

Letter to my mentee on her graduation

Dear R, I feel so honored to have watched you go through the process of becoming an adult. Over the last months, you have ridden the emotional roller coaster that accompanies any major life change. You held on tight and even enjoyed the ride - at times - and came out the other side with a place to live, a job, and a pathway forward. I couldn’t be more proud! So now, with your graduation just days behind you, I wanted to share some things I wish I knew almost 15 years ago during those first vulnerable months in the real world. You don’t have to worry about what you are going to do and be in life anymore. are just doing it. Plus you already did something major - you graduated from college! Learning how to live on your own, outside of the university bubble is a great goal for your first few months. It took me almost a year to even get close to mastering running errands, grocery shopping, dealing with crazy landlords, and having fun while working. You will get better at asking yourself the same questions. Who am I? What is important to me in life? What legacy do i want to leave? What impact do I want to have in the world? You are asking yourself some of these questions for the first time. The questions don’t go away but the answers do change. Becoming a mom required me to ask these questions all over again. What kind of mom do I want to be? What is the role of work in my life? Things that felt like a priority before - like being at every important meeting no matter [...]