Monthly Archives: March 2014

Doors that Close and Open

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Relationships have a natural ebb and flow to them. Sometimes a connection that sparks due to shared interests and proximity can cool off when a person moves away. While this can be sad, it also creates space for new relationships.

I heard a quote once that people are friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime, and that seems to fit. While having lifetime friends feels wonderful, we only have so much room in our lives to dedicate to that kind of relationship. Sometimes change is good and allows us to be open to new people in our life.

And even then, each relationship is very different.

One of my oldest and closest friends is someone I’ve known for over twenty years. She’s the sister I never had, and people even comment that we look alike when we’re together. I see her once or twice a year and when I do, it’s magical. We laugh, we cry, we open our hearts in a way that I don’t do with many people. We don’t see each other often and almost never connect when we’re not in person, but we both know that we would do absolutely anything for the other.

Interestingly, through much of our friendship we also agreed that while we love each other dearly, we are enough like siblings that we couldn’t spend a lot of time together without arguing. We learned to act accordingly and it’s made our relationship so much stronger as a result. Though now that we’re older, I think this has changed a bit. We’ll have a great opportunity to see where things are at as she’s moving much closer. I’m excited.

I have other friendships that seem to require the proximity and sadly faded when that was lost. In some cases, we’ve come back together and became friends all over again at a new part of our lives. With others, I have some really wonderful memories.

Relationships are defined by the people involved. It’s hard when one person changes the rules without agreement or communication. Some recent Facebook interactions have me thinking about this. The joys of social media, right? You can hide behind your laptop and connect with people, without actually making a connection. Interesting.

Whether it be a reason, season or lifetime, I greatly appreciate the people in my life. While there are times I’d like to shell off in my house and try to say I’m an introvert, I know I need to face that I’m not! It’s my connections to other people that give me pain sometimes, but also give me great joy and a sense of belonging.

Our relationships also give us such a wonderful opportunity to learn more about ourselves.

 

 

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Lean In

“… I do not believe there is one definition of success or happiness. Not all women want careers. Not all women want children. Not all women want both. I would never advocate that we should all have the same objectives. Many people are not interested in acquiring power, not because they lack ambition, but because they are living their lives as they desire. Some of the most important contributions to our world are made by caring for one person at a time. We each have to chart out own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values, and dreams.”  Sheryl Sandberg

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I recently read “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Wow. What an incredible book, not only for the amazingly rich and well-researched content, but also because it kept my interest. Not always an easy thing to do. 

I’ll explain.

Being in corporate for over twenty years, I’ve read a lot of management-genre books. I usually enjoy them at first, though around halfway through, I lose interest. The content seems more of the same and I often feel as if the book could be a wonderful ten-page article instead of an incredibly long book that I want to use to pummel myself to a slow, painful death.

This book was nothing of the sort. In truth, part of my level of engagement was the subject matter. The book makes a case for the cultural and historical perspective of the gender gap, and through poignant relatable examples, gives examples of what women and men both do to perpetuate it. Sheryl tactfully and touchingly addresses the personal choices that women make regarding family and career, and drives the importance of selecting a real partner in a spouse in order to juggle, if that’s what a woman chooses. She also talks about the consequences of the choices we make.

I remember over ten years ago running into a woman I was friends with in middle school. She told me she had four children, and asked how many I had. When I said that I had none, her lip curled and she grew very distant. “Oh, you’re a “career girl”,” she said. She may as well have substituted “career girl” with “child molester” with her reaction.

By not making a choice to have a family, I essentially made my choice. I never consciously decided to not have children, and even now, it still surprises me that I don’t. I never pictured my life without them. However, I won’t live in a place of regret for not having children and for not following societal norms. The truth is that I wasn’t ready to have a child when my body physically was. And regardless of what my middle school friend thinks, that’s ok. It’s just a different choice. I didn’t place a priority of my career over family; I simply realized that I wasn’t ready to have a child and chose to do the work that I needed to in order to avoid perpetuating the cycle of abuse that I grew up in.

On the last page of the book, Sheryl notes that she looks “toward the world I want for all children—and my own. My greatest hope is that my son and my daughter will be able to choose what to do with their lives without external or internal obstacles slowing them down or making them question their choices… I hope they both end up exactly where they want to be. And when they find where their true passions lie, I hope they both lean in—all the way.” 

Wow. I’ll be thinking about this for quite a while, and in my opinion, that is the epitome of a very well-written book.