Lessons Learned & Random Ramblings

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Creating a personal code of conduct… June 23, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 8:39 pm

My incredibly brilliant friend Elizabeth recently wrote in her blog ~ http://ejohnsonandcompany.com/code-of-conduct-mine-is-pink/ ~ about one of her workshops and a topic that came up in discussion about our personal code of conduct. A participant had been inspired by the coverage of Tim Russert’s death and the kind words people had shared and wanted to discuss what her code of conduct might be. In her post, Elizabeth shares some of her answers and encouraged others to create their own as well.

The components of this Code of Conduct include: (1) having a word that you use as a springboard for your life, (2) Identifying your heroes, and (3) Incorporating purpose into your life (according to Elizabeth this means addressing the question “why am I here?”, and finally (4) selecting a visual (Elizabeth uses the example of the Swoosh by Nike).

After much thought, my Code of Conduct includes the following:

  • My word: CREATIVITY ~ I try very hard to be creative in all components of my life. My definition of “creative” is a mix of adventurous and artistic with a bit of inspiration tied in. I try to remember this and make this a part of everything I do – in work life, family life, relationships, friendships, hobbies & interests, etc and I try to encourage others to do the same.
  • My heroes: My grandmother, JK Rowling, Mia Hamm, Katharine Hepburn, Eve Ensler ~ there are certainly other women that inspire me and other family members I would consider heroes but when I think about heroes – these are the women that consistently come to mind. They are all very different – a family member, an author, a soccer star, a screen icon, a feminist/activist — but there are things they also have in common. They are all strong women, they fight for what they believe in, they have been standouts in their field of interest and/or their era, they have broken down barriers and laid the groundwork for the next generation to succeed and dream big, they have created a lasting legacy, and they offer me (and many, many others) hope and inspiration.
  • My purpose: EVOLVING ~ my purpose is consistently growing, changing — like a really great work in progress. I know that I have the opportunity to inspire others, to make a difference, to share my creativity and passion for good and I try to remember the impact I have on others and make sure to be kind, positive and respectful so that others will ideally do the same as well.

I don’t have an image yet — that will also be a work in progress — but I’ll make sure that it is something that encompasses all that I have already thought about and is incredibly creative as well!

What is your personal code of conduct? As Elizabeth says, happy creating….


A complete show of disrespect June 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 11:32 pm

I have always been a fan of the New York Mets. My father cursed me from childhood by making me a fan because he was but that is another story all together…

Usually, despite stupid player trades (Robin Ventura), unfortunate injuries (Pedro Martinez, the Beltran/Cameron collision), bad seasons and season endings (Beltran’s play-off strike-out, the historic collapse of last year’s team), I continue to be a fan. I continue to support my favorite players and root on my favorite team. I defend them to others who clearly see their faults by trying to channel the magic of earlier teams!

Despite all of this, I have never been so incredibly disappointed and disgusted with the Mets as I was earlier this week when they fired Willy Randolph. Don’t get me wrong, I think Randolph needed to go – not because he was the whole problem the Mets are having this season – but because his team wasn’t responding to him and the questions surrounding his job security were distracting the team.

What was wrong was the way Omar Minaya and the Wilpon’s handled everything. Sending Randolph on a road trip feeling like his job was secure and then firing him after a win, in the middle of the night, across the country was just crappy. It was disrespectful to Randolph, disrespectful to players who hadn’t all heard the news when reporters starting contacting them the following morning and disrespectful to New York fans who were likely sleeping at 3:15am when everything occurred. Randolph, the players and the Mets fans all deserved much better.

Hiring, firing, trades, front office position changes, conflicts within teams – it is all part of the business of baseball and I understand that but I have to believe that business can be done just as effectively with at least a bit of kindness and respect as well.


The secrets to happiness…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 1:13 am

Recently, I came across an article on MSN entitled “7 Secrets to Happiness” by Meaghan Buchan that came from Cosmo magazine, which featured an analysis of the keys to true happiness. According to the article, the seven secrets are as follows:

  1. You Need a Solid Core Group of Friends.
  2. You Gotta Have Adventures.
  3. It’s Time to Toss Excess Stuff.
  4. A Balance of Busy & Dead Time is Key.
  5. It’s Crucial to Give in to Temptation.
  6. Liking Yourself is Non-negotiable.
  7. You Must Stop Mentally Browsing.

I must admit, I enjoyed her article and I thought she hit on some pretty interesting points. Here is my analysis…..The first point, friends – clearly important – I’ve discussed that before so I think I can probably just acknowledge that I agree with the need to surround ourselves with good friends, close family, good romantic relationships – and make sure that these relationships consistently make us feel good about who we are and what we have to offer. It is also important that these relationships allow us room to grow emotionally, intellectually, creatively, etc. The second point – the need for adventures – is interesting. Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes an “adventure” — for some it might be skydiving while for others it might just be spending a day without adhearing to a schedule. For me, it means trying something new regardless of how tame or death-defying that new thing is. I firmly believe in the third point, tossing excess stuff. About two years ago I attempted to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle – no more DVD or CD purchases, no more hosting candle parties or Tupperware, no more clothes hanging in the closet that I didn’t wear. Instead, I sold things back and used the extra cash for fun things, I cleared my schedule of unnecessary commitments, I donated all my old or rarely worn items to charity. I continue to try to keep that mentality and work towards being a “minimalist” so that I spend time and money on things that matter. I think that the fourth point is important but harder to consistently achieve — I’ll just leave it at my belief that balance is key and that includes a balance between the things that keep us running around out of necessity each day, the causes, advocacy and commitments that matters to us, and an afternoon relaxing in the sun. The fifth point makes me feel validated for the afternoons I give in to an unplanned pedicure or enjoy an ice cream cone. The special treats we give ourselves make life happy so enjoy them! The sixth point is another given as far as I am concerned. In reality, we don’t all like ourselves all the time but I personally try to practice self-love while recognizing that I, like others, am a work in progress and that is a good thing because it means that I keep growing and learning and incorporating these as part of who I am. Finally, the seventh point, is actually my least favorite because I don’t know that it is necessary easy defined. I understand what the author is saying — we can’t hem and haw over every outfit we put on or over our nightly dinner decision. However, when I think of mentally browsing I think more about keeping an eye out for opportunities for growth and learning and those are important. It goes back to finding a balance between the things we need to keep a look out for and the things in our life that we have to just have faith in because we need to feel confident we made good decisions already.

I think what made this article important to me is that it made me think about what makes me happy and whether or not I give those things enough weight and validity each day.

If you want to read more, the link to the article is: http://lifestyle.msn.com/mindbodyandsoul/personalgrowth/articlecosmo.aspx?cp-documentid=7885427&GT1=32001

Let me know what you think about Secrets to Happiness in your life!


"13 Going on 30" June 3, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 8:47 pm

Today my girls group watched “13 Going on 30” – the last selection in the “Movies That Matter” series we have been conducting throughout the year. I must confess, I love the movie and truly want to recreate the scene where they dance to “Thriller”. However, today I was particularly moved by the message it offered to me and the girls – especially considering the discussions on friendship we had recently had.
The movie reminds us that it is ok to make mistakes as long as we learn from them, that it is possible to find your soulmate, that friendships do last if we work at them and that we must be true to ourselves in order to find happiness. It is a feel good movie that always makes us think. Watching it with a audience of 13 year olds and being near 30 myself was particularly interesting!
Enjoy the movie if you haven’t seen it or rewatch if you have and give yourselves permission to reconnect with your inner teenager. Forgive yourself for mistakes you have made, delight in the dreams you made reality and the successes you have found, connect with your friends (both from age 13 and age 30), swing on the swings and enjoy the sunshine with an ice cream cone in the park. Most importantly, celebrate you – where you came from, where you are and where you still hope to go!

Friendship & Support

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kate @ 5:30 pm
“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (Christopher Robin to Pooh)
– A. A. Milne

“What is a friend? I will tell you – it is someone with whom you dare to be yourself.”
– Frank Crane

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately
without growing apart.”
– Elisabeth Foley
As my programs come to a close for the school year, I have been working on a project about friendship for my students. I started out wanting each of them to pick a quote about friendship and talk about how they could use their particular quote to make a difference for others. The kids have had an interesting response to the project but it has had a particularly interesting impact on me.
As I have mentioned before, when I ended my marriage and dealt with the fall-out that followed, it was quite a learning experience for me in a variety of ways. The biggest lesson I learned was about friendship. The people who stood by me did so in a variety of ways and their support, kindness and respect provided me with strength and love. However, others were not as supportive and although I understand some of the reasons why, there are certainly friendships that seem to have changed over the last three years. Not a bad thing or a criticism, just a reality check about the way life changes us – through time, events, etc.
I was in a wedding about a month ago and was incredibly touched by the words of one of my good friends. We stood in the hair salon watching the bride get ready and she turned to me and asked if it was hard for me to be a part of a wedding. She is the very first friend who ever thought to ask and I have been in or attended at least half a dozen weddings since I ended my marriage.
The honest answer is: No, it doesn’t bother me. I completely believe in love and in marriage – mine just wasn’t the right one. I love the spectacle of a wedding and the idea of a forever marriage. More importantly, in this particular wedding, I truly believe that the bride and groom are great for each other and being a part of their special day was an incredible honor.
What surprised me was that my fellow bridesmaid thought to even ask. She cared enough to take the time to find out.
After a recent miscommunication/argument with an old friend I thought a lot about what it means to be supportive of someone – in my case supportive of someone going through a break-up, divorce, etc. She said that she couldn’t believe it if I felt she hadn’t been supportive during the end of my marriage and asked if I expected her to assassinate my ex-husband to show support. I was pretty floored at her response particularly because in my mind supporting me didn’t necessarily mean hating my ex-husband – or causing him bodily harm. I didn’t hate him, I just was in a marriage that made me feel unhappy, unsupported and uncreative. I wanted something different and better and I wanted him to have that as well.
Regardless of whether or not this particular friend was supportive – her question made me think about the difference between hating him and supporting me. It also made me think quite a bit about how to articulate the issue. In my mind, supporting me meant being there – it meant listening without judgement, loving me even with my flaws, letting me vent, etc. It meant recognizing that I had my reasons and that I wasn’t going to badmouth my ex or make him the bad guy just because that provided others with a clearer reasoning for everything that was happening. It meant realizing that my life was changing and although it certainly was going to affect others as well, I was the one taking the brunt of people’s anger, confusion, feelings of betrayal, unanswered questions etc. and none of it was helpful or supportive.
The best way I can explain how people were supportive is probably to give examples:
  • One of my very best friends was travelling when I notified her of my separation – she immediately responded by phone and email despite being thousands of miles away and simply said “I love you and I will be there for you no matter what happens.” In the months that followed — and to this day — she is incredible at just being there – by phone, email, visits – as a friend.
  • Another friend took a time out from her own life for a weekend to go away with me – we walked, ate, enjoyed the sunshine. She listened when I wanted to talk and she changed the subject when I needed her to. She made me feel that despite the fact that my life was changing, I was still me — and I was doing what was best for me — and the rest of the shiite would sort itself out.
  • A friend I had previously worked with made sure to meet me for dinner, lunch, drinks — whatever was convenient every few weeks. She knew that between the separation, a move, a job change, etc. that I needed someone to just help me take a break and she gave it to me without ever making it seem like it was associated directly with the divorce.
  • Finally, my friends from graduate school distracted me with everything from invitations to get dinner to emails, from phone calls and get togethers to work on assignments to trips to NYC for the day — they were great cheerleaders for my life and my success and they gave me encouragement to focus on the amazing things I was doing instead of making the divorce such a defining moment.

There are other people who did great things to – they called more often or suggested dinners out. They sent cards or emails simply asking how life was going and telling me they cared. There were friends that came to things I was doing in grad school or shared in related activities and triumphs. In addition to being a great cheerleader for me, my sister made sure we got regular pedicures and that I took time to relax! There were also friends who simply reminded me that the best was yet to come and in doing so made sure that I took the time to put myself first, get my thoughts and feelings in order and took time to pamper myself.

None of these things had anything directly to do with my ex. Sure, there were people that remained friends with him and we had to have discussions about what that meant in terms of boundaries or how much I would share about my life, etc. There were also certainly times when I wanted to just vent and sometimes that included needing the ear of someone who wouldn’t defend him or invalidate my own feelings/experiences. But, the friends that made the biggest difference did so by recognizing — in whatever way they could — that I was going through something life changing and that meant that I might need an ear, a shoulder, a date for a night out, a personal cheerleader, a distraction – even if I wasn’t always great about asking for it.

This friendship project, and the quotes above, really stood out for me as I thought all of this through. They are the best examples I found that illustrate the support, kindness and respect that I try to offer my friends and that I have come to expect from others. I am so grateful to my friend at the hair salon for reminding me of the little ways we can show we care and to this project for giving me the inspiration to articulate all of this and get it out there for you!