5 Disjointed Thoughts on Life Transition

Stepping into transition is like standing on the edge of the pool deck thinking about jumping into the pool, when suddenly your well-meaning but somewhat misguided friend shoves you into the water. It always seems to come before you’ve quite prepared yourself.

Living through change is like going on a run and never quite being able to catch your breath.

Preparing for the future is like planning a birthday party with a guest list of 200, but not asking for any RSVPs.

Leaving one place for the next is unsettling—but not bad. We’re just creatures of habit who take comfort in familiarity, and new places are habit-breaking and very unfamiliar.

Concentrating on personal growth, health, and development in the middle of a hectic season is like trying to change the oil in a hail storm. Not impossible, just distracting and somewhat difficult.

I Should Try

Childhood is full of learning new things. Babies learn to crawl, then walk, then run. Toddlers become potty-trained, feed themselves, and discover how to put on pants. Before long in elementary school, kids learn adding, subtracting, and how to get along with other kids on the playground.

Every experience of growing up is punctuated by awe. It’s thrilling to learn how to tie your shoes, because “they” tie their shoes (who they? the big people). Each skill acquired is a step toward independence, even though kids don’t think of it that way. Their natural bent is simply curiosity and the willingness to discover (spend thirty minutes with a five-year-old and count how many times they ask, Why ?).

But somewhere along the way, it’s easy to lose the hunger to learn. We become confident in our abilities. Admitting we don’t know something is a chink in our armor rather than an opportunity. But what if, instead of a threat, every new thing you didn’t know became an opportunity?

There are two distinct mindsets involved in learning. Either, you come to a new experience, and think:

I probably can’t do that. Oh well.

Or, you venture into something new, thinking:

I wonder if I can do that. I should try.

It takes humility, confidence, and the willingness to accept that you may fail the first time—or the first five times. But if you never try anything, then you never learn anything. And that’s way worse.

Expressway-Turned-Parking-Lot

There are few places where people display their true nature, whether good or bad, as readily as in Chicago traffic. Construction, especially, is the great equalizer of society. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a Tesla or a Yugo—everybody gets treated the same.

After Chicago’s astonishingly chilly winter, the roads look like an m&m cookie that some kid picked all the m&m’s out of. If you steer to dodge one pothole, you’ll hit another. To make up for this, the city of Chicago pulled up several miles of the main tollroad in and out of the city, leaving only one lane in both directions. In a city that hosts hundreds of thousands of commuters every day, this has major consequences.

Curtis (he’s very wonderful) and I left the city last Friday in the middle of rush hour. In the course of the evening, our two hour drive turned into a three-and-a-half hour drive. We sat in stop and go traffic for what felt like a year . . .

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Love is Patient, Love is Kind . . .

Before I married Curtis (he’s very wonderful), I had no idea that two of the most dramatic points of tension in our relationship would be window blinds and lamps.

You see, I hate to be tired. Most people do, really. But I also love to wake up early—well, after the initial misery of waking up early. And one of my favorite things to do as soon as I wake up is draw up the blinds in our bedroom and look out at the pale blue pre-sunrise sky. Or, after doing the other bits of my morning routine, I love to go back into the bedroom and yank up the blinds quickly, pairing the crisp zippp with the chaos of light instantly flooding the dark room.

And that’s where the problem begins.

Curtis (yes, the wonderful one) also hates to be tired. But in life’s game of drawing straws, he drew the “night person” straw. His brain is kicking into gear at 10 p.m., two hours after mine has ceased to function reasonably. So, every morning when I tear the blinds up from the ground and the sunlight comes spilling in, I’m wreaking havoc . . .

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Four Reasons for Sacrifice

There are a few key reasons people make sacrifices:

Someone is making me. “You may not go outside and play until you’ve cleaned your room.”

There’s something in it for me. “If you don’t eat ice cream for a month, I’ll give you a hundred dollars.”

I want to help someone else. “I’ll give you half my sandwich so you don’t have to be hungry.”

I believe in the cause. “I’ll stand outside in the cold in front of the grocery store and picket because I think it’s important for people to know the injustice of the system.”

Believing in a cause or vision doesn’t always result in radical behavior, yet it does often require sacrifice. But when you’re working toward something that you believe in, the sacrifice is always worth it.

A Night at the Art Institute

Thursday nights the Art Institute of Chicago is free to residents of Illinois. In an attempt to become more cultured I’ve started to take advantage of this perk. According to the website, there are nearly 300,000 works of art “in fields ranging from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art.” Based on the rest of my research, it’s somewhere around a million square feet—but for some odd reason, sources are cagey on that one.

As you know, I really love to watch people and then categorize them. And there are lots of fascinating types of people at an art museum.

Stop and Stare: Their family members go through an entire wing in the time . . .

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Your Two Choices

You know the feeling—the first time in your professional career you worked really, really hard on something. You stayed late after work for two weeks, poured hours and hours of energy and heart into the project, and drove all your friends crazy because you wouldn’t talk about anything else.

Finally, deadline day rolled around. You printed off the proposal, took the inevitable my-firstborn-child-is-going-to- . . .

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Networking (or, Learning as a Team)

Networking: (v.) a professional term for making friends and then shamelessly using them to learn things and get places in life.

Today, I had the privilege of sitting in on a discussion with several peers in the communications field as they discussed where they’ve gone since college, and what they’ve learned in the process. Everyone has a different story, and hearing insightful people unpack what they’ve learned is a valuable experience.

My four biggest takeaways . . .

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Six Years Old on a Plane

One Christmas when I was small, my family flew to Florida to spend the holiday with my grandparents. Our family of seven rarely flew places when I was younger, since corralling five children through an airport is both costly and (I imagine) exhausting.

The travel day, already an adventure, became more exciting when we ate ice cream for lunch, and climaxed when I was given the privilege of sitting . . .

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10 Typical Meeting Behaviors

Meetings are one of those interesting topics that almost everyone has an opinion about—

some people really love them (large groups help me brainstorm),
some people really despise them (you expect me to be articulate on the spot in a room full of people?),
but not many people view them with complete ambivalence.

Just as there are many strong opinion about meetings, there is more than one distinct . . .

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