Reflections of Gratitude

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving.  It’s officially “the holiday season”! Personally, I love the holidays, but I know there are many, many people for whom the holidays are particularly trying, and that made me start to think a little as I was reflecting back on the things for which I’m grateful.

spaceneedlechristmastree

Family.  I consider myself lucky.  I grew up in a standard family, perhaps more comfortable than some, but with many of the usual family dynamics.  My mom’s family were immigrants from Poland, so we had a lot of cultural background and tradition from that side.  We lived back east, close to that branch of the family, so I have a lot of happy memories of church, meals, and large family gatherings.  My dad’s side of the family lived across the country (at that time) in Olympia, Washington.  My dad’s mom was married five times.  My dad never knew his father.  For a number of reasons, he ran away and joined the U.S. Navy when he was too young to enlist.  It — like most everything else — didn’t stop him.  Anyway, I share that because my father didn’t necessarily have that traditional upbringing and family to offer, and although we did get to know our Washington-based relatives when we moved here in the late 1970s, we were never close.  My parents were (and frankly, still are) hard workers.  My dad served on submarines in the Navy for 22 years.  He then went to work at General Dynamics Electric Boat.  He worked another 20 years before retiring.  My mom stayed home with four kids until my youngest brother went to elementary school.  Then she went to work, too.  She worked nearly 20 years for EDS. They provided a great middle-class upbringing and a fine example of marriage and child-rearing (with a few exceptions).  We had lovely homes, and everything we needed (and much of what we wanted).  I have three younger brothers.  They’re all successful and happy in their personal lives.  None of us have any reason to complain.  We are all reasonably healthy (including my dad who will be 80 this year).  My immediate family has been relatively unscathed by death (except as a result of aging) and we are all fairly fond of each other.  And I have children.  They are my heart.  And my second husband is the love of my life.  Sometimes, we just need a do-over.  I am lucky in family.

Marcy and brothers

My three brothers and me…

Friends.  I can honestly say that if there was one thing I could do better, it might be friendship.  Although I think sometimes my expectations are too high here.  My very best friend is my husband.  He knows me.  He sees me.  And he still loves me.

Marcy and Matthew

He is the love of my life… 

I have a lot of other friends.  Some I’ve known for years, since I was a girl — while we don’t see each other often (some are across the country), when we do get together, it’s like we’ve never been apart.  Others are a newer, adult friends, and while we know our lives go through cycles of time and place, some are close enough to really be called “friends” – they would be there if needed, can be counted on to let me vent when I’m having a bad day (without judging), and support me in the sometimes zany ideas I have.  I also have two adult children – my two oldest sons.  I would like to think that if I wasn’t first and foremost their mom, we would be friends, because I like them so much as people.  And I think they like me, too.

Family in Vegas

Faith.  This one’s harder.  I’ve gone through phases in my life where I regularly attend church.  Other times, I may go years without attending.  But I never lose touch with my faith.  God is a part of my life every day.  My Catholic upbringing guides my behavior in so many ways.  I know I’m not a perfect Catholic (or Christian for that matter).  I swear sometimes.  I say unkind things about bad drivers in Seattle.  I’m frequently impatient and short-tempered.  But I do try.  I try to be kind, and generous, and giving (instead of taking).  And sometimes, when I don’t know what else to do, I let everything go.  I had a friend while my kids were growing up who used to say “Let Go, let God” (thank God for you, Lael).  I had never heard that before, but it has become a mantra for me as I’m a worrier, with some tremendously compulsive behaviors.  I have always known that God has a plan, and that I may not always be privy to that plan, but it’s been a pretty recent development learning to “let go.”  I’m not sure I could let go for anyone else, but God.  And it helps.  And it reminds me — every time I do it — that I am a person of faith.  Because faith is believing without knowing.

So, as I get ready to embark upon the holiday season, these are the three things that I try to focus on: Family, Friends and Faith.  For my family, I try to ensure that our holiday traditions, and those special things that we do (sometimes as simple as a family game of Pictionary) always happen.  We don’t “forget” or let things slide.  I want my kids to grow up with the familiar and comfortable things that we did as a family, so they have something to share with their families as they grow.  I bake cookies – because I’ve always baked cookies.  It’s not Christmas without my Christmas cookies.  So I bake – when I feel like it or not, whether there’s time or not.  I decorate with traditional decorations — my adult children have Christmas stockings I made when they were born (one is crocheted, and the other is knit).  They’re nearly 30 years old, and juvenile in design.  But those stockings are theirs, and they expect to see them hung on our mantle every Christmas.  I also work very hard to ensure everyone has one great gift.  It may not be expensive.  But I love to surprise my loved ones with something they didn’t even know they wanted.  The most important thing for family though, is the same for friends:  make time.  Make time to be together.  Even if it’s just a little time – a quick happy hour, or a short visit before a road trip to see the in-laws (we have to share them, right?).  Somehow we get over to my parents (using the ferries) during the holidays.  Wait times can be tough, be we work through it.

With my friends, I try to take my cues from them – a night of shopping, a night of gift wrapping (and wine, of course — or in my case, margaritas), a holiday dinner out, attending a special holiday event together — whatever it takes, however we can work it.  Time is often our most previous gift.  Spend it on the people important to you.

Arnold Guild 2016

The Ladies of the Arnold Guild.  We work all year long to fund raise and procure donations for the annual Hutch Gala put on by the Fred Hutch in December.  Then, for one glamorous night, we are all together, celebrating a year’s worth of hard work raising funds to help find a cure for cancer.  We’re gonna do it, too.

And remember – there IS a reason for the season.  Whether you are Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or of any other faith and culture.  We don’t have to have the same beliefs.  But let’s all remember that whatever holidays we celebrate, they all represent something similar: a time of good will, good cheer and good tidings.  I don’t know of any culture that celebrates a time of year when we are mean and ugly to each other because the calendar says it’s time.

If we do nothing else for each other during these sometimes trying days, keeping good will, good cheer and good tidings foremost in our minds for each other will make EVERYONE happier and the holidays brighter.

I would love to hear about your holiday traditions, the things that make your holidays special — or trying.  And I wish you joy and happiness as we head into this special time.

 

 

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Can We Have a Frank Discussion About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

I was super saddened yesterday to hear the news break about CBS News Anchor Charlie Rose.  But in all truth, I can’t say I was surprised.  I’ve watched CBS Tcharlierosesuspendedhis Morning since it debuted in 2012.  I can honestly say, I watched it for Charlie Rose.  Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King were never much of a draw for me – Norah seeming to try too hard and Gayle not really doing it for me as a journalist.  But even amongst the three of them, there were times when I felt the discussion went to an inappropriate place, a little bit of sexual innuendo that made me feel like I was watching Mom & Dad make out.  Ewww!

And those experiences made today’s decrying of Charlie by those two women even more disgusting in my mind.

So, here’s my take.  I have no excuses for men who treat women inappropriately, unprofessionally, or without respect.  But there’s more to it than just that – even though a lot of women will say the responsibility ends there.  I say that the responsibility of one person for the bad behavior doesn’t eliminate other responsibility for allowing the behavior to continue.  More on that in a bit.

But here’s my initial sense as I hear these stories coming out, day after day.  I am 52 years old.  I worked the better part of my 20s and 30s in a time when it was NORMAL for women to be treated as decoration in the office.  It doesn’t mean that we were not valued, or taken seriously.  It just means that it was totally normal (and socially acceptable) for certain men to treat us as pretty additions to their day.  If, as a woman, you worked in a mostly male environment (and I did — law firms), you came to understand and accept that while (like most giving lip service to correct behavior) you would be expected to attend Sexual Harassment training on an annual basis, many partners never did, and even those who did were frequently the worst offenders!  Sometimes it was as innocuous as a “you look pretty in that dress” and sometimes more subtly inappropriate — a touch, or a suggestion, or an after-work drink conversation that goes more than a little off the rails of appropriateness.

My personal feeling about that — having lived through sexual harassment being reported not only to my female Executive Director, but also to the our female Staff Attorney, being sent to counseling, and surviving an “investigation” — is that perhaps even worse than the men are the WOMEN in our offices who are supposed to be in positions of power, the HR staff who are gatekeepers, those who supervise (and protect?!)  the mostly female staff, and yet continue to let this behavior happen!

Why do we expect these cretinous men to protect us from themselves when the women who are put in those positions to do so can’t or won’t?!

And secondly, I would suggest this (at the risk of being stoned over the Internet)… when does the statute of limitations pass on bad behavior?  What was “acceptable” thirty years ago isn’t acceptable anymore.  I get it.  But can any of us really look back on our lives and say with certainty we’ve never said or done anything in our past that in our present couldn’t be considered wrong or inappropriate?  Come on!  I’m not saying the behavior 30 years ago was acceptable, but it certainly wasn’t criminal (unless it WAS criminal).  It isn’t necessarily criminal now either (it’s just career destroying and impossible to defend in today’s world.)

Again, I’m not ever going to say this behavior is acceptable, but if a man doesn’t actually assault a woman… when he makes comments, suggests, offers, even [gasp!] puts his hand on your leg or shoulder… when does it become incumbent on the woman (or the man) to get up and say “I’m uncomfortable with your behavior.  I believe it’s predatory.  You need to stop.”

How much power and strength are we giving up when we claim to be helpless and endlessly broken by the wrongs done to us?

I have always felt myself to be a strong woman.  And I believe I was (and am still) considered to be attractive — not that that is always a part of harassment, because it isn’t.  But there was a lot of inappropriate behavior back in the day, and while HR-types would say unequivocally that there’s no responsibility by those NOT in a “position of power,” I would disagree.  We can’t demand change if we’re not going to stand up and admit our part in it.

I know I allowed words and deeds that today would be considered totally unacceptable.  I’m not necessarily proud of it.  But it didn’t ruin my life.  It didn’t make me feel “less than.”  Mostly it made me think less of these men — and the women who turned the other way and permitted it.  Mostly it made me aware that no matter how far I’ve come, there will always be a man in front of me to get around.  And — perhaps more horrifying — it made me aware (as I aged) that there would always be a younger, more attractive woman who was willing to take advantage of that to better herself – whether she was trying to take my job OR my husband.

So, how about we all take personal responsibility for our own parts in this mess? Let’s hold all the evil-doers responsible and make the world a better, stronger and more respectful place for future generations.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  I expect there are many who will disagree with me.  But I hope there are some others — like me — who would like to hear some counterpoint to a situation that seems to have gone back many years to challenge the experiences of many.  Let’s hear it!

Happy 6th Anniversary (to both of us)!

This week, I attended Penelope & The Beauty Bar‘s Sixth Anniversary celebration in their space at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle.  I’ve been attending their annual celebrations for the past couple of years, and it’s always a well-done event.

PenelopeFor this year’s event, guests were treated to champagne and delightful nibbles, as well as mini-services (manicures, massages, skin consultations, etc.) and the opportunity to purchase anniversary specials at fantastic pricing.

I enjoyed a lovely European-style, waterless, manicure from one of the lovely aestithicians (perfect for my upcoming anniversary dinner out), and then a relaxing 15-minute massage with Mark (he was fantastic!).  In between visits to the infrared Jade pod and glasses of champagne, it was an easy decision to purchase a specially-priced annual membership, providing me with a variety of services, an annual discount for goods and services beyond those, and the knowledge that I’m an “insider” at one of my favorite Seattle day spas.

Not only is Penelope’s a lovely place to enjoy a little self-care, but it’s located in one of Seattle’s most beautiful, historic hotel properties.  The Fairmont Olympic is designed in what was the trendy Italian Renaissance style.  The Spanish Ballroom and Foyer are two of the most beautiful rooms in Seattle (in my opinion).  The property was the original site of the University of Washington‘s first campus.  It’s a true Seattle institution.

During the holidays, the Fairmont Olympic offers afternoon tea, holiday tea with Santa and a wide variety of other holiday events, including being the host for the Seattle Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees.

This year, the culinary team at the Fairmont Olympic are opening a life-sized gingerbread house at the University Street entrance to the property.  Opening November 23rd, it’s sure to become a Seattle holiday tradition.

 

How Do YOU Give Back?

Centerpiece

Here’s a sneak peak at this year’s table centerpieces – they’re going to be beautiful!

Last Thursday night I attended the monthly meeting of The Arnold Guild, a fundraising arm for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, based in Seattle, WA.  I have been a member of the Guild for nearly four years, and have spent a good amount of donated time and energy to procurement, events and meetings, and I — now more than ever — believe in the value of giving back to the organizations and causes that touch our lives.

Cancer is a terrible, terrible word.  I have been fortunate in that I haven’t been personally touched by it (yet) in my immediate family.  However, my husband (one of two children), is currently coping with the knowledge that both his mother and his sister (basically his entire genetic family) are struggling with cancers and difficult prognoses.  There’s not much I can do for them, but I can do THIS.

I don’t pretend that any work I do can make it better.  I know it can’t.  But I know that it takes money and awareness to drive the research and discoveries that will lead to a cure.  And I believe that the Fred Hutch will have found a cure for cancer in the next ten years.  So, it’s up to all of us to keep our loved ones alive and well, and hopeful.

The Arnold Guild is composed of mostly women.  We are creative, energetic and (I would like to think) fun! I am not the typical member, I think.  Several of our monthly meetings are spent going over the various design and decor for the Hutch Gala (our annual monster fundraiser).  I’ve never been one to care too much about colors and fabrics, but I can understand and appreciate the need to create a feeling — and experience — for an event like this (which donors like that).  It’s an amazing event, and takes many volunteers and many months of planning.  All hands on deck!

Beginning in January, I will take on the role of Procurement Chair.  I think it is not the most popular role.  However, I believe in the cause, and as a result, I have no problem walking around with my hand out in order to raise money to help find the cure.  It’s a lot easier than asking for anything on my own behalf!

So, this year’s event will take place on Saturday, December 2nd. For the first time ever, I will attend as a guest (not as a volunteer worker).  I’m excited to experience it from the other side, and even more excited to see what wonders will occur this year.  Each event includes the moving stories of survivors, and those left behind, and highlights the amazing work being done by the scientists and staff at Fred Hutch.  It’s nearly impossible not to be emboldened with hope at this event, and hope keeps us ALL alive.

What do YOU do to give back? What causes speak to you? How can we all help to make the world a better place?

 

30 Days to a Whole New Habit

I know it takes 21 days to establish a new “habit,” but I’m going to give myself a few extra.  I find that I typically have a hard time getting out of my ORDINARY routine, into something new, so I’m going to be kind.

But in truth, I really need to get going on this.  Blogging is fun.  I really enjoy it!  I just don’t do it religiously.  And, in truth, I should – I have an utterly amazing life!  But I get busy, and then I figure it’s late, no one will care, and then I move on to something else, and then I just never get around to it.  So today, that stops.  I’m giving myself 30 days.

What’s my plan, you may ask?  Well, here’s the thing.  I’m keeping this blog, and morphing it a little.  I’m focused on sharing what I would call a very rich life.  Let’s be super clear.

My target audience is anyone who wants to share all the wonderful things that go into having a rich life – whatever that might entail.  To me, it’s a lot of things: family, travel, community, work, cooking, pets, exercise, and hobbies.  So that’s what you’ll find here.

I’m 52 years old.  But I still feel like I’m in my 20s.  My husband says I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy.  My 13-year-old son frequently finds me immature.  I like to cut loose and have fun.  And I frequently buckle down and get it done. So expect snarky humor, with a dash of irreverence.

I was divorced and raised my first two sons alone for 15 years.  I never thought I would marry again.  I met my current husband and had an epiphany at the age of 45.  It can happen.  It DOES happen.  And I consider us still to be newlyweds!  I’m a fan of Happy Endings.  I love to root for the Underdog.  I believe miracles happen everyday.  I will share all of that with you.

I live in Seattle – I know it’s not Manhattan (although I’ve lived there, too) – but seriously, is there anyplace ANYONE would rather be?

I’ve been in marketing  my whole adult life, although now I’m in Sales (and it just feels like the next iteration of marketing – relationships, that is!), so I hope you’ll find I’m an effective and (amusing) communicator!

I have two cats (I feel like we keep repeating cats – 1 is a MaineCoon (girl), the other is a tuxedo cat (boy)) – they are frequently problems.  But they make me feel needed, in a life where everyone is very self-sufficient, and we all need to feel needed.

I love to travel and do so frequently.  And I am a knitter – if I am not creating SOMEthing, I feel very unfulfilled.  So, usually, it’s knitting but sometimes it’s home improvement, community service, or event planning.  I will share my newest creations with you, and I hope you will share with me, too!

View from AtlasSo… there it is in a nutshell.  Today, I’m sitting at Atlas Workbase, working remotely, while thinking about the future.  Where are YOU? And what are you thinking about today?

 

 

 

Queen Anne Holidays

stockingsonmantleThis is our first Christmas as Queen Anne residents, and I think I like it. Well, who am I kidding – I love it! The neighborhood is festive – both upper and lower. The proximity to Seattle Center (which is INCREDIBLY decorated) is so much fun, and I’m having a great time going back and forth to downtown for quick bouts of holiday shopping!

I’ve made the run up to the top of Queen Anne Avenue North to purchase special gifts several times, and I’m enjoying Pilates classes at Inspire Queen Anne, so I’m getting my neighborhood on!

Latest update must include the fact that last week I attended the Queen Anne Community Council’s monthly meeting and self-nominated myself for one of their open board seats. I was elected! Not sure what that says about me OR the Board… .but what it means for you is that if you have a question, concern or a topic you’d like raised/responded to that the Board can address, please send it to me. I’d love to be of help!

So, what are YOU working on for the holidays? I just finished Christmas stockings. This weekend I’ll put our little courtyard garden to bed and finish hanging the last of the Christmas lights. We’re almost ready… Next weekend – cookies!

I’m looking forward to enjoying all the holiday lights and decorations in our wonderful neighborhood. If you know of a particularly great display, please let me know; I love to explore!

Thank you, and Happy Holidays!

Welcome December! Holiday Shopping on the Hill

Took the fam up the Hill today to do a little holiday shopping in the ‘hood. We strolled up and down Queen Anne Avenue and hit a few select spots, including the Queen Anne Bookstore, the Paper Source, Trader Vic’s … Continue reading

First Snow in our New Home on Queen Anne (More Like at the Feet of Queen Anne)

We had the first bit of snow last night into this morning, leaving the neighborhood dusted in icy white and quiet. Granted, it is quieter in the late fall, heading into winter, than it typically was all summer long, but … Continue reading