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ruthless compassion
02 March 2016 @ 01:53 pm
Monday was a travel day. I departed Puerto Morelos in the morning, catching a bus to the main terminal in Cancun, where had a couple hour wait for the bus to Chiquilá, the final mainland town before hopping a boat to Isla Hotbox, which is a peninsula, not an island, but there's nothing in the connecty bit, so it might as well be an island.

I adore traveling by bus in Central America; it's incredibly inexpensive, and it's more experiential than any other form of travel I've found. In particular, I love how, once you're out of a city, the bus will stop to pick up and drop off food vendors, who bring their wares onto the bus for people to purchase en route, which is especially nice when one doesn't plan ahead for a long ride.

That said, I also find it super stressful an anxiety-producing to be going by bus route that I'm not familiar with through bus stations I don't know. I always worry I'm going to miss my bus or get on the wrong one or miss my stop or get off at the wrong one and accidentally wind up somewhere horrible with no hotels or food or anything. This has never happened, mind you, but it doesn't stop me feeling nervous that it might happen any time I let my guard down!

So, it's scary and hard. But it's also super satisfying!

And, as has been the case in the past, nothing bad happened. I bought a bag of oranges from one of the bus vendors, and when we got to Chiquilá, I get on a small boat that left right away, rather than wait for the ferry, which would have meant waiting about 30 minutes. This in turn meant that I was able to jump in the ocean before getting a drink at my hotel's delightful little beach bar and then venturing out for dinner.

This is the garden between me and the beach:

This is what happened at sunset that first evening:

This place is basically the epitome of what I envisioned when I set out to have a tropical paradise vacation. It's got the sleepy, low-key vibe of island culture, and while there are activities to do, there's a lot of simply lounging around and enjoying what's right in front of you. The water is this amazing milky green color, unlike anything I've seen before. We're on the Gulf of Mexico here, so it's not the clear turquoise of the Caribbean, which I guess some people this is a drawback, but I'm delighted. And the beach is just littered with shells, mostly tiny ones, but there are occasionally beautiful larger ones also. I'm not a huge shell collector, but I expect to be bringing some of my favorites home with me.

I might depart here someday, but I'm glad that day isn't today.
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I'm feeling: chillaxstatic
ruthless compassion
26 February 2016 @ 03:33 pm
Puerto Morelos continues to be delightful. I've fallen into a rhythm of chillaxing during the day and then venturing into town in the evening, for the most part, though the last couple of days, I've visited town (about a mile away) during the day AND the evening.

Today, I geared up and ventured in to catch a boat ride and snorkel tour of the nearby reef, which was just great. It was a totally lively and beautiful reef ecosystem, with (among others) multiple sightings of barracuda and trumpetfish and of course all the other little colorful tinies you see in a thriving reef setting.

I lucked into a small, inexpensive operation, where they also gave me the Mexican price for the tour, since I speak Spanish. I had my doubts about this (everyone always promises a good price, after all), but the other folks on the boat mentioned what they'd paid, and it was, in fact, a bit more than my price (but not so much that I felt incensed on their behalf). Then it turned out I was the only client who spoke Spanish, and the tour guides had pretty rudimentary English, so I got to play translator, which I always enjoy, so I think everyone won. I'm thinking about going out again tomorrow, because, well, it's not normally every day that you get to splash around a gorgeous reef, after all.

Now, I'm just waiting for the sun to get a little lower before I dive back into the water here at the B&B. MOAR splashing!

The vast majority of my time here is in motion in some way or another: hammock, bed suspended by ropes, swimming, boating, walking, biking, taxiing ... so I'm slightly discombobulated those rare times when I'm sitting in a chair that rests on the ground. I think that means everything is just the way it should be.
I'm feeling: relaxedrelaxed
ruthless compassion
23 February 2016 @ 08:28 pm
I arrived in Cancun mid afternoon yesterday, and with one brief, heartstopping moment of panic when the first ATM I tried didn't accept my non-chip card, it was a pretty smooth transfer to my lodging in Puerto Morelos, about 30 minutes south of the airport. Two hours after landing, I was in the ocean, which I think is a personal record, so that was pretty awesome.

The place I'm staying is very sweet, with a variety of rooms in small, two story structures scattered about, with some greenery between. Last night, I had a spacious room with three beds and beautiful fanciful murals and a gorgeous tub tiled with shells.

This morning, the proprietor offered me a room closer to the ocean and with a better view, and I jumped on it, so tonight I get to sleep in a bed suspended from the ceiling by ropes!

There are hammocks everywhere -- two on every private porch/patio, and a large palapa on the beach with four. It's great. And the beach is right here!

The one down side is that the ocean right in front here is a sort of messy/rocky entrance, which makes it more of a chore to get in and out, though once in past waist deep, it's delightful. Still, I was really picturing vast sandy stretches, and in my travel-weary state last night, this set off a whole cascade of doubt about this whole endeavor. "What if I've made a horrible mistake and this is going to be three weeks of not-as-awesome that I just have to endure?? Maybe I should go back to Boston?"

I tried to talk my brain out of the tree with logic ("You're tired and worn out and you just got here; things will probably seem better in the morning!" and "Every big adventure has this moment; it will pass!"), which didn't stop me feeling that way, but it did prevent me from losing my shit about it. Instead, I went into town and had fish tacos on a patio while listening to a local musician, and then I came back and had a beer and went to bed.

And, indeed, this morning, I felt better. I also decided to move my travel plans around a little bit to spend 2 fewer days here and 2 more days at my next destination, which I suspect will have beaches more in line with what I'm envisioning, but there are a couple of things around here that I'm hoping to see that won't be at either of my other destinations: a spectacular coral reef that's swimmable from shore (though I will have to bike or get a taxi to that spot, which is north of where I am), and cenotes, which are these giant, water-filled limestone sinkholes that you can swim in and explore.

Tomorrow is a local market, and more very important reading and swimming to do. So, you know, so far, so good.

I'm feeling: relaxedrelaxed
ruthless compassion
25 January 2016 @ 10:01 pm
I recently had someone at work ask me to mentor her, explicitly. I know that a lot of the people who work for me see me as a mentor (because they say so), but this was a first. It feels incredibly fucking awesome to be seen that way by smart, capable people who I respect and admire. Holy shit. It is a powerful force against the voices of insecurity and self-doubt when they drop by for tea.
ruthless compassion
On this last day of the week of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all the things we don't know, yet. Every day, I wish we could flash forward to a day when we have all the answers for the big questions of our days, but I know that those answers will only lead to more questions, and that's pretty exciting. I like to think about all the things we know now that we didn't know 100 years ago, much less 1000 years, and I know it's pretty much impossible to imagine what the world might look like in 100 years more. It's scary, but it's also exciting, to have so much to discover.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
Today (as a stand-in for yesterday!), I give thanks for play. It took me a while, as an adult, to come to see the importance and in fact necessity of play, but I have definitely come to see it as one of the human needs that is perhaps surprisingly low down on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Play brings an opportunity for imagination, laughter, connection, lightheartedness. I know that not everyone has access to the time and space that allow for play, and I see that as a deep reflection of the injustice that we more commonly see in the uneven distribution of other resources like money, food, safety. I think that in order to thrive, humans of all ages need opportunities to play, both alone and together, and I'm grateful for my own access to play.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
Today, I give thanks for the current crop of young activists. In particular, I'm grateful for the voices that have lifted the Black Lives Matter movement into greater visibility, and for the real, measurable changes in the public conversation about race, privilege, class, and safety. I dearly hope that their work continues to bear fruit for many years to come.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
Today, Thanksgiving Day proper, I give thanks for the uncountable wonderful people in my life. I'm thankful for my outrageously fantastic family and friends, so many of my coworkers, my unreasonably great neighbors, my supportive teachers (both formal and informal), the strangers who've showed me kindness, the near-strangers who I see regularly in my day-to-day and with whom I share an occasional smile of hello-kindred-person. People and our connections are so much of one's life, and I feel so lucky in mine.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
Today, I give thanks for the opportunity to help people I love. Of course, I would rather they never hit the kind of rough waters in life that require really heavy lifting, but since that's not an option, I am glad and grateful to be part of many communities and relationships where help is needed or wanted, many people come together to make the load easier. I'm grateful to people who need help and ask for it, for not shouldering the burden alone and in silence, and for giving their friends and family and sometimes the community beyond the opportunity to lend a hand. I'm grateful for how this brings us together and deepens our relationships and connects us to the larger network of humanity.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
Today, I give thanks for options. I wish that everyone had all the options they want in life, but we don't, and I'm grateful for the many that I do. To be able to engage in steering my life and make choices that are not driven purely by necessity and basic need is such a thing, and one that I know as a profound privilege. And it's one I'm incredibly grateful for: To be able to live the quirky life I live without substantial fear of persecution, abuse, incarceration. To be able to make choices about how I spend my money and my time. To be able to break social conventions and behave oddly. To be able to choose my friends and loves. And in so many ways, I am grateful to options large and small, and I wish them for everyone.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
For this week of Thanksgiving, I start off with a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation for my current state of health and able-bodiedness. The older I get, the more I understand the fragility and temporary nature of both states, which is a bittersweet way to come to appreciate them that much more.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
22 November 2015 @ 03:28 pm
Here is an amazing thing that a big group of people working together can do:

This is a Castell, which is a tower made of people, typically competitively. Bunches and bunches of people make up the lower level(s), leaning in to lend strength and stability to the higher levels.

There's a lot I love about this, but one of my favorites is that it's mixed age and mixed gender. Fun for the whole family!

People are awesome.
ruthless compassion
21 November 2015 @ 02:25 pm
I just finished watching Human Volume 1, the first of three movies of interviews with people from around the world. It's beautifully and simply shot and edited, and I found it profoundly moving. I look forward to watching the next two. Here's the first one:

It reminded me of another video project I discovered recently and have been enjoying enormously: The {} And. This is a series of videos of interviews between pairs of people, mostly in close relationships (partners, siblings, friends, parent-child), where they're given a series of questions to ask each other about their experiences in their relationships.

Check them out; they're both really wonderful.
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I'm feeling: human
ruthless compassion
12 November 2015 @ 08:53 pm
When I think of Rick, I think of his deep, resonant voice, and his big belly laugh that invited you to join. I think of how sweet and loving he was with his son Gabe and other little kids. I think of how he would listen carefully to what people would say, mulling it over, never simply taking their words at face value. I think of how little patience he had for bullshit, including his own. I think of how hard he worked, and how much he dedicated to making a better life for his family.

Rick had a wonderful turn of phrase, an ability to shine a light on a conversation or way of thinking that could always make you laugh and think at the same time. One of his phrases that I still use is "God sauce" to apply to anything religious-y. Reiki? God sauce. Bible? God sauce. Magical thinking? God sauce. I can see him holding his hand over an imaginary platter as though pouring out from a ladle.

Rick died unexpectedly in October, leaving his amazing and loving wife and son, and so very many people who loved him. He was one of those people who filled a room in a wonderful way, cracked jokes, listened thoughtfully, was generous and loving and kind. He was one of those people who can leave a him-shaped hole in your heart, even if he wasn't part of your day-to-day. I do and will miss him so so much.

God sauce, just pour it all over everything.
I'm feeling: sadsad
ruthless compassion
10 September 2015 @ 09:02 pm
Last night, Lizette and I went to the Congress Street Bridge in Austin and watched the bats fly out at dusk. We were standing at a point on the bridge where the bats flew out in an arc and then back under the bridge to -- as far as we could tell -- join with more bats to fly out in a flowing mass from under the center of the bridge. We could look down and watch this arc of tiny winged rodents just stream out, tiny creatures in such volume that they bumped and tumbled against each other. The sound of their high-pitched squeaking and the leathery flap of their wings clacking and the woosh of air was like nothing else. All the hair on my body stood up, and my eyes filled with tears in the same way that happens when I'm in a stadium full of people having a shared emotional experience. It was powerfully moving and otherworldly and so very of this world.
ruthless compassion
12 August 2015 @ 07:44 am
This morning on my walk to the bus, I hear an enormous BOOM and felt a pressure wave from it against my skin. It was deep sounding, like a bomb or a fireworks, and I have no idea where it came from.

It scared the crap out of me and everyone else I could see on the sidewalk. It was not immediately apparent what it was.

Did you hear this? It was about 7am. If anyone hears anything about what it might have been, I'd appreciate knowing!
ruthless compassion
11 August 2015 @ 08:44 pm
In March, I nominally took over a team of an unspecified number of people. The number was unspecified because it was unknown! So one of my first tasks was to figure out, based on organization and role, how many people were in what would ultimately become my team.

That number turns out to be 40, which is a lot of people! And yesterday, I took them out of the office for a day to start to build an explicit sense of team by working together to create a brand statement and some team agreements.

I've run a lot of offsites and workshops in a lot of settings and for a variety of configurations of people, but this was my first time designing, planning, organizing, and running this kind of event as the head of the team. It was interestingly basically entirely familiar and also completely strange and different. In particular, I repeatedly found myself joshing around with the team, and then having a twist of realization that, wait, I'm the boss! Which, I don't know, it's not like that changes that we're all humans together, and, yet, it also totally changes things, and in ways that are probably less perceptible to me than to others.

Forty people is a lot! I'm feeling this in a lot of ways, especially because I currently don't have enough managers in the team, so I have too many people reporting directly to me. I'm in the process of changing this, and I dearly hope to have at least two and possibly three more managers on board by the end of the year.

I've also never managed managers before! And I'm learning that that has its own challenges and pitfalls, possibly more for me than the initial transition to management.

I feel like I'm having a similar kind of fun to having kids: It's exhausting, demanding, tiring ... but there are moments of brilliant satisfaction and reward, and if I can navigate the process successfully, I'll feel like I created something amazing. But my day-to-day happiness is definitely taking a hit.

At least they haven't taken to waking me up in the middle of the night!
I'm feeling: worn
ruthless compassion
15 July 2015 @ 10:36 am
A thing I hadn't really thought about when I switched from moving from managing a team of 6 or 7 to managing a team of 40 is this: if each person has only one crisis a year where they need their manager's help, with 40 people, that's almost every week.

And it turns out, the frequency is a bit more than that. So it makes sense that I feel like I've been actively helping people put out fires at a high rate since March.
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I'm feeling: tiredtired
ruthless compassion
02 June 2015 @ 10:45 pm
The other important-to-me discovery/realization of the last month: I really thrive in chaos. I feel more lit-up and engaged since the sudden increase in the pace, scope, and level of surprise of changes around the office than I have since my first three months in my first role at the company. It can't stay this way, and it wouldn't be healthy if it did, but WOW, I think that would work for me.
I'm feeling: chipperchipper
ruthless compassion
02 June 2015 @ 10:40 pm
I've had four bosses in the last 6 months. December 2014 was my last month reporting to the CTO, who hired me into my current place of employ in the first place. In January, he moved into a new role, and I briefly reported to his successor. This was always intended to be a temporary setup, a placeholder while administrative gears turned in the background,; though I was reporting to him, I wasn't working for him, as I was using the time to wrap up and hand off my old job while I started to lay the groundwork for the new one, so I kind of don't count him. In early March, I officially started my new job, reporting to boss3, an executive who had been with the company since basically the beginning (17 years). In mid-May, she and the company abruptly parted ways, and I suddenly found myself reporting to the CFO.

So, it's been a chaotic time. But that whole story is just a little contextual backstory for the actual story of my first meeting with my new new boss. As my previous boss had left the company in a fashion that might lead one to think there were substantial disagreements in important decisions, I decided to use my first 1:1 to run her through my nascent program and make sure we were on the same page. I did, and none of it was a surprise to her, and she was in full support of it. Hooray!

And then she said, "I trust you as a professional leading this project, so don't wait for permission, just do what you think is best. I'll be comfortable reining you in if I need to."

So, that was a surprisingly explicit blank check! I wasn't surprised that that's how she felt -- upon reflection, I think all three of my prior bosses felt this way -- but this is the first time anyone has said that to me so broadly and concretely. In the 2 weeks since this conversation, it has slowly been dawning on me the depth and breadth of what this means, and how I can enact it.

And it's interesting, too, to realize that -- even though all of my bosses at my current company have probably held the same opinion -- I have been operating under the Seeking Permission paradigm. What does it even mean for me to simply do what I think is best? It means not just doing the job that's on the paper, but pursuing other tasks and projects that are interesting to me. It means just making things happen that I want to happen. It means ... I don't even know. I'm simultaneously gobsmacked at the mandate and annoyed with myself that it feels like such a profound change.
I'm feeling: happyhappy
ruthless compassion
30 April 2015 @ 01:03 pm
I don't know if it's the weather, finally having recovered from the weekend, the fact that I drank my coffee at the PERFECT time this morning, or the fact that I got a great night of sleep ... or just dumb luck! But I am in a super awesome top notch good mood today. It's WONDERFUL.
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I'm feeling: bouncybouncy
ruthless compassion
10 April 2015 @ 07:20 pm
I always have a post-event drop after a large event, and I just finished my largest event ever: 400 people for four days at the Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire. I started planning it over a year ago, and at the beginning of this year, I handed off most of the remaining planning (which is a lot) to my then-assistant (now successor as I've moved into my new role), but it still felt a lot like my event, especially since most people there identify me as a person who can answer their questions or solve their problems.

Also, although it was 400 very smart people, almost none of them are able to find their way out of a paper bag, which leads to a LOT of frankly baffling questions. Like: "Should I eat lunch before or after I put my suitcase on the bus?" Dude! You pick! Are you hungry now? Do you want to stop dragging your suitcase around? Both options are fine!

Overall, it was awesome. The Mount Washington Resort is fantastically beautiful, and the staff was unmatched by any other venue I've ever worked with, and the agenda worked super well, and our attendees were, in general, well-behaved, even if clueless.

On the other hand, we had a handful of prima donnas who threw dramatics over minor and soluble issues, which was a definite downside. My favorite was the fellow who, outraged, insisted he was going to fly home to California if he was going to have to share a bathroom. (Some of our guests were staying in townhouses with some shared bathrooms.)

But the highlight for me was that it was kind of a victory lap for me. This is the event I've run every year in my role as "Minister of Fun" at athena, and this group is sort of my "home base" group at the company. I was given pretty free rein to institute a number of programs that made their lives at work better and more fun, so they really like me a lot, and they're geeks, so of course I love them.

They surprised me with a thank you ceremony that involved a giant cake reading "So long and thanks for all the fish", and a set of gifts that included a fancy pair of noise-canceling headphones, a set of five gorgeous metal dice, a Star Trek sushi-making kit, an 8-bit mug, a useless box, a plastic crown and scepter, a velvet cape, and ... a drone. Oh! And an air cannon. And a truly absurdly decadent donut covered in frosting. And they said a lot of nice things about me. It was incredibly heartwarming and affirming.

Later, I sang karaoke by myself for the first time ever ("You Don't Mess Around with Jim" by Jim Croce -- with thanks to regyt for the suggestion), because I realized I was there with a group of people I truly didn't mind making a fool of myself in front of, and one of my colleagues told me she hopes her 8 year old daughter grows up to be like me, and another one told me that I make everything I touch better.

So, that was all super nice, and really well-timed, because outside of work, things are pretty sad and hard for me right now, but I have a lot of good friends, and my family is awesome, so I think I'll get through.
I'm feeling: complicated
ruthless compassion
03 March 2015 @ 12:23 pm
If you were a tree (or treelike plant), what would you be, and why?
I'm feeling: curiouscurious
ruthless compassion
03 March 2015 @ 09:56 am
Part of what I love about where I work that makes it stand out from any of the other places I've ever worked (including the places I liked!) is that there's true opportunity for growth (for me). I think this largely has to do with it being an organization that's a great fit for me, with work that I enjoy doing and that the company needs done.

I'm sure I learned and grew in other positions I had, but it was never easy for me to put my finger on my major accomplishments or achievements. It was always like, "I did my job, as requested."

This is the first place where I've been given a lot of leeway and been able to really make my way in the organization, and where my contributions -- uniquely mine -- were just the thing.

It's a good feeling.
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I'm feeling: chipperchipper
ruthless compassion
24 February 2015 @ 12:35 pm
It will come as no surprise to exactly no one who knows me that I don't want to have kids. I've fantasized for years about permanent sterilization, but, of course, I know how much our desires and inclinations can change over time, so I always had age 40 in mind as the point at which I would pursue a permanent solution to the problem of my potential fertility. Since moving into a household with kids, I've been even more sure that that's not a path I want to pursue in life. (I love living with other people's kids. Almost as much as I love not having any of my own.) (Okay, not even close to how much I love not having my own.)

So, even though I'm about 18 months from my 40th birthday, I feel ready to make a longer term decision. So! I met with an OB/gyn this morning to talk about my options. I went in with Essure as my likely preferred option. It's a minimally invasive procedure with good outcomes. The other permanent option is tubal ligation, which is a real surgery.

While I was talking to the doctor, she suggested I consider the Mirena IUD, primarily because the low dose of hormones could alleviate some of my endometriosis symptoms, and most women on the Mirena don't have periods, which is obviously appealing. But it's also appealing to know that pregnancy is totally off the table. So, I'm thinking about it.

I'm interested to hear thoughts and helpful questions, if you have any, but it will make me angry to hear anything along the lines of "But what if you change your mind?" or "Don't you want to keep your options open?", so please skip those!
I'm feeling: thoughtfulthoughtful
ruthless compassion
20 February 2015 @ 10:50 am
By Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.

The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
I'm feeling: chipperchipper
ruthless compassion
20 February 2015 @ 09:04 am
Tell me a secret! Tell me a not-secret! Whisper sweet somethings in my comment box. Express your maddest crush or deepest curiosity! Expound upon the fabulousness of your friends or lovers or would-be friends or lovers! Or people you know or want to know. Do it anonymously or with your name attached; anonymous commenting is on and IP logging is off.

You know you want to!

[Please note ground rules here.]

[Link to flat version of comments is here.]

A note on user experience: If you're starting a new thread, if you give it a subject, it'll be easier to pick out comments in response to it down the road.

ETA: IP logging is back on!
I'm feeling: curiouscurious
ruthless compassion
20 February 2015 @ 09:02 am
Happy Confessional Month! First, some ground rules, and shortly, I'll post the confessional itself:

As I've done the past couple of years, I'll be moderating comments with a relatively heavy hand, especially around pointlessly mean-spirited comments or threads. Similarly, I'm aiming to nip in the bud comments or threads that seem to be headed in a bad direction. If you think I made a mistake about leaving something up, feel free to email me to bring it to my attention.

One of the things I deeply value about the confessional is the opportunity to say hard things, but it's important to me that they be productive, so please refrain from mean comments without substance. In past years, we've had some pretty amazing learning, compassion, and vulnerability, along with playful fun.

If there's a comment/thread that seems primarily to be about character assassination, I empower you not to respond, and to privately draw it to my attention for deletion. I will try to delete that sort of thing ASAP, but I have to eat, sleep, work, and play outside of this, also, so my eyes won't be on it every second it's up.

If there's any comment about YOU that you'd like me to remove for any reason, please email me so I can do so.

Remember that all those anonymous voices are people, some of whom you know and like, and all of whom are people like you.

Finally, on commenting with your name/handle vs. commenting anonymously: please consider anonymous commenting the default unless it's specifically relevant and important to post with your name attached. We have many settings in which we can converse as identifiably ourselves, and part of what's fun for me about this is the opportunity to hear people's words without always already knowing who is saying what.
I'm feeling: chipperchipper
ruthless compassion
19 February 2015 @ 10:31 pm
I missed this on other social media, and it's too hard to catch up there, so! Let's do it here:

What three things would you put in a circle to summon me?

Comment with my three and I'll respond with your three!
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I'm feeling: chipperchipper
ruthless compassion
16 February 2015 @ 06:48 pm
I fell into one of those nonconsensual naps for about 5 hours this afternoon, and I'm feeling substantially more human. I awoke to the combination of dusk and a power outage, which my nappish brain had a difficult time parsing.

I give groggy thanks to my past self that has scattered headlamps all over the house, so I was able to navigate around to find and light some candles, and soon after that, the power returned; it looks like it was out for about 3 hours, which works out to pretty good timing all-in-all, since it was mostly when I was napping and during daylight hours. And it wasn't enough time for the house to get problematically cold (though our heat proper isn't electric, the forced air action is).

I'm beginning to rethink my conclusion that the airline's original offer to get me back to Boston on Friday was not the right choice after they canceled my Sunday flight. But it's a little late for second thoughts, now that I'm here!
I'm feeling: restful
ruthless compassion
16 February 2015 @ 10:41 am
I just arrived home from a week+ in Costa Rica with my family and contessagrrl, which was super nice. It was amazing to be away in the warmth and sunshine for a week in the middle of winter (and a week containing two major storms -- it's surreal arriving into the current state of things). The second storm led to my original return flight yesterday being canceled, and Copa (who I can't recommend flying with, if you can avoid it) said the soonest flight back to Boston would be FRIDAY, which, no. So I wound up flying to JFK last night instead, and then made the final hop to Logan this morning. It's incredibly restful to be home after three days of active travel.

This was my first time in Costa Rica, and I really liked it. It's visibly better funded than Guatemala (the Central American country I have the most experience with), and it took me a little while to get used to potable water coming from the taps. San Jose didn't strike my fancy, though I didn't really set out to explore it much, but the countryside is fantastically lush and beautiful.

The day we drove to Dominical, taking the mountain route, we wound up on a crazy little detour off the highway that started out paved but quickly turned into an incredibly steep and twisty dirt road that left us all wondering if we'd taken a wrong turn. A quick consultation with another driver confirmed we were in the right place, and I think we spent about 30 minutes of the most difficult driving I've ever done. I was glad to have both a manual transmission and four wheel drive.

The rest of the drive was winding and gorgeous, to an elevation of over 11,000' before dropping down to sea level at a rate that made the changes in the air noticeable moment to moment.

Dominical wasn't much to write home about as a town, but I liked the house we rented, and it was walking distance to the beach, down an unpaved street. The beach was grey sand and had a pretty foamy break that was popular with surfers (which is why we chose it -- my brother's big into surfing recently), and although it wasn't my favorite ocean swimming conditions, the water was bathtub warm and wonderful to be in.

Other highlights include the next door restaurant that had super delicious batidos (smoothies), the intense and restorative massages (two of them!), and the beauty of Manuel Antonio park. I also got a surprising amount of my Spanish back, to the point that I transacted a pretty complicated exchange at the airport in Spanish on my return -- to my great satisfaction! And I think I might have drunk my weight in fresh coconut water, drunk right from the coconut. Oh! And I finally got to try a cashew fruit! It was horrible.

This is the first big vacation that my family and I have taken since we were all together in Guatemala for Christmas in 2003, and it was such a pleasure to be traveling together, so of course that, in concert with the novel and tropical setting, my companions were the biggest overall highlight. I hope we manage to do something like this again before another 11 years have passed!

And now, I'm enjoying the fullness of the pleasure of being home, even if it does require several layers of wool. It also includes a purring cat for my lap. Is there any sweeter satisfaction to travel than the first night in your own bed, no matter how good the vacation was?
I'm feeling: good and tired
ruthless compassion
09 February 2015 @ 10:16 pm
So, I'm in Costa Rica! It's beautiful and warm and lush and green. I have a sunburn and I hardly care. I've swum in the ocean each of the last three days, and my skin feels amazing. My Spanish is coming back to me more quickly and substantially than I exoected, even with relatively casual use. I even successfully deployed the subjunctive a few times today!

I want to have a lot to say about it, but I don't, really, at least not yet. It's nice to be away, spending pretty minimal time at a screen, soaking up sun and some real, solid relaxation.

For those of you wondering about the confessional: I can't host and moderate from here (nor would I want to), so I'll be posting it next week sometime.
ruthless compassion
29 December 2014 @ 11:04 am
For New Year's Eve this year, I'm taking myself on a little personal retreat in Provincetown (which I've never been to!). My goal is to be offline as much as possible in favor of reading, walks on the beach, movies, meditating, and spending time at the spa. I feel super good about this; I'm looking forward to some concentrated self-care and time away from my day-to-day that is really built just around me.

I'd love some recommendations for:

1. Good places to eat in P-town
2. Absorbing books (I especially like feminist scifi/fantasy and/or engagingly written natural history or science writing.)
3. Entertaining movies (I love action/adventure, comedy [but no comedy that's mean or built around embarrassment-humor], uplifting dramas.)
I'm feeling: chipperchipper
ruthless compassion
Today, a day late, but not a dollar short, I close up my Thanksgiving celebration with great gratitude for seasons. Sure, I don't love every piece of weather that comes my way, but I DO love the variety, the change, the way that it helps me feel the passing of time bigger than hours in an internal and tactile way. I love that there are days that are dark and cold and cozy and other days that are brilliant with sun and warmth. I like the way the world changes with the seasons, and the way I fit into it differently at different times.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
Today, I'm thankful for flow, for this eminent a when everything just works, and is easy -- easy in the sense of ease, not lack of challenge -- where you can get into that groove and make magic happen in a way that feels effortless but actually is the distillation of hundreds or thousands of hours of prior effort. That moment when banging your head against a problem breaks loose into the magic of discovery and accomplishment.
ruthless compassion
I'm a day behind, because of the plenty of life and the blessed and somewhat mixed truth that there will always be too much to be able to do everything. May we all have our baskets overflowing with too much wonder and laughter and snuggling and connecting with each other. Even when I'm frustrated that I can't have everything I want, I am so grateful for everything I have.
ruthless compassion
Yesterday was Thanksgiving proper, and the day of giving thanks for the people in my life. I feel so blessed and lucky to know the great people I do, to share my life with my family and friends in deep and meaningful ways. I am so lucky to have grown up in a warm, loving family, and lucky again to have found my way into a community of people who work hard together to have loving and mutually supportive relationships of all kinds. People are what make everything worthwhile.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful
ruthless compassion
Today, despite the vast unpleasantness of the Wintry Mix falling from the sky, I give thanks for the wonders of the natural world. Over this summer, I noticed that our front patio is perfectly situated to frame a spectacular sunset pretty much every night, and all fall, I've been caught breathless by the brilliant colors of the foliage. When I'm feeling restless or anxious or sad, stepping outside and taking a moment to notice some small detail of the world around me gives me a moment of calm. Looking at patterns that echo themselves across many different natural systems gives a clue as to the fundamental workings of matter and the universe.

The wild peace and wonder of nature is the most basic definition of a blessing: something wonderful unasked, unearned, undeserved, and wholly outside any system of exchange.
I'm feeling: blessed
ruthless compassion
It is hard to appreciate a feeling of thankfulness today, given the ongoing events in Ferguson, which painfully represent events, practices, and ways of thinking throughout the United States and the world. I feel heartbroken that our society continues to fail black people in such a violent and dehumanizing way. I am sick knowing that I benefit from the system that oppresses black Americans and black people around the world.

So, today, I give thanks for the noisy agitators whose efforts make a ubiquitous and unjust practice rise to the level of news. I am grateful for the hard work done for decades by people striving for the liberation of people not seen or recognized as people by the society they live in. I grieve for the need for their work, and I am so thankful to them for doing it. May there be less cause for their work in the future.
I'm feeling: sadsad
ruthless compassion
As is my annual tradition, I'll be celebrating Thanksgiving with seven days of thanks this week. Please join me, if you're so inclined!

Today, I give thanks for work I don't know for sure I can do until I've done it or not.

I love my job, and I love feeling competent at my work, but one of the most valuable gifts my current role gives me is the opportunity to stretch my wings and try things that I might not succeed at. Sometimes I don't succeed! But I always learn from it when I don't, and as a result of these stretch goals, this year has been full of major competence milestones that demonstrate to me that I have really learned and grown in my professional self in a way that I absolutely never could have expected.

I don't love failing, when I do. It feels lousy, no matter what, but failing and surviving gives my insecure inner voice less and less ground to stand on when it tries to talk me out of dreaming big.

I want this for everyone! And I give huge, huge thanks to the great good fortune that it's an aspect of my life these days.
I'm feeling: thankfulthankful