Monday, October 31, 2011

Free Your Mind

My apologies for being unplugged from the grid for a while.  My priorities go something like God, country, family, Buckeyes … and I haven’t quite figured out yet where internet audience works into that equation.

I just got back from another national conference for my business.  Awesome and inspiring as always … and I think the networking was most important for me personally this time.  Let’s just say, “What happens in Atlanta stays in Atlanta.”  Catch up with me in person, and I’d be happy to share.  I have pictures.

Of the formal sessions, my favorite was a version of The Matrix, complete with excerpts from the movie.  A couple quotes stuck with me:

“There’s a difference between having eyes that see and having vision.”

I have the vision.  I see what Corporate America is doing to people’s spirits, their health, their quality of life.  That vision is even clearer now that I’m on the other side. 

I have a vision of health and wealth and quality of life for me, my family, and my community. 

I’ve talked to numerous people in the last week who don’t have the vision, and I’m not sure they’re even seeing.  People are so depressed.  They so lack the confidence they can succeed … that I’m pretty sure they’re confident they will fail at whatever new thing they try.  (I tried … I failed … lesson – never try?  No!)

I physically hurt from feeling so bad for these people sometimes.  At some point I just have to say “Next!” and move on.  Say a prayer for those too far down for me to lift up.  God’s really the only one with the power to do that anyway.  And I hope they’ll come around eventually.

“I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it.”

Isn’t that the truth.  And applicable to so many things in life.  Free will is a real kicker. 

Part of me wants to channel Joel Osteen, with a huge Texas-size grin, and say, “God loves you and wants you to be happy and succeed!”  And all of that is true, although I’m not a big proponent of prosperity gospel.  There are always going to be sucky parts of life on this earth.  But it’s true … and you just have to choose it.

Several people have commented lately that I seem happy.  Some of them don’t even know about all the changes in my life over the past year.  And I am happy.  By the grace of God I escaped the matrix of Corporate America.    

So here I am, science and math nerd turned cheerleader (who would have thought).  I found the door.  I walked through it.  Are you gonna come with?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Why

Why do you do what you do? 

We have a zillion choices every day of our lives.  Many of them we don’t even recognize.  You can choose to get out of bed, or you can choose to hit snooze.  You can choose to go work at your job, or you can choose to go into the office and quit.  Now clearly each choice has a consequence, and often the consequences or fear of a consequence drives our choice.

My business involves a lot of psychology.  Nudging or persuading people to see things differently – their life, what’s possible, their daily choices.  We encourage people to find their “why”.  Why are you doing this?  Not just “what are your goals”, although that is part of the equation, but a deeper at-the-core why.  Your why may change over time … I know I have a bunch of why’s but only a couple prominent ones at the moment.  And here it is …

To get myself healthy and to avoid Corporate America.

Corporate America was unhealthy for me.  But it was also downright rude to me.  One of the defining moments of my glamorous career occurred a couple years ago out in Arizona.  A little background first …

When I moved back to Ohio, I bought a house big enough for my sister and her kids to join me.  Which they did a few months later.  It has worked out well for us.  Everyone has space.  My house has been looked after whenever I’ve needed to be a road warrior.  There’s always been a teenager around to mow the grass so that allergy girl here doesn’t have to be sick for three days afterward.

So I’m “other mom” to Doug and Emily (and I guarantee they are rolling their eyes while reading this … they have been raised properly on sarcasm and Weird Al …). 

One Sunday night in December of Doug’s junior year of high school, we all ended up back at church, just like usual.  I was sitting in with the youth group to catch a movie I hadn’t seen yet.  Doug had been at practice for the Christmas musical and wandered in a few minutes after the movie started.  He was talking to a couple adults near the door, but I was out of earshot.  Someone leaned over and asked me, “What is Doug talking about, I thought he said something about someone dying.”

I made a beeline to the door, where Doug told me one of his classmates and football team members had died in a car wreck.  It’s one of those statements that doesn’t really sink in right away.  What? 

“He was in a car wreck with Bombo.”

“What about Bombo, how is he?”

“I don’t know.  Nick is texting me, and he’s not answering me back very quick.”

And then it hit me … the reason for all the cars gathering on my street when Em and I left for church.  “I think I know where your teammates are. I had assumed the neighbors were having a party.  Do you want to go there now?”  He didn’t, but it took less than five minutes of watching the movie for him to change his mind.

For many years the saddest place I have ever walked into was the James Cancer Hospital.  I visited my grandmother there at a time when we did not expect her ever to leave that place alive.  And there was room after room of patients with dismal outlooks.  I don’t have an issue with hospitals like some people do, but it was depressing.  With a capital D.

My neighbor’s house that night trumped the James.  There were kids everywhere.  Sitting on couches.  Sitting on the floor.  Some crying.  Most of them just staring into space, not moving, not speaking.  Bombo was there … he was fine, well physically anyway he was just a little banged up.  Coaches, a few parents, and a couple youth pastors were mostly in the kitchen.  Words still barely do justice to how horrible it felt.

Fast forward to the next August.  I was on a startup in a plant in Arizona, and I was expecting to be stuck there for the weekend and miss the first football game of the season.  Politics is the only way I can explain why two heavy hitters needed to be there in the first place.  The woman in charge of the whole project … well let’s just say we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things … and she made an art out of being non-communicative.

I was talking to the production manager about how the plant was running that week, and whether we’d have a window in the production schedule to get in and do our project work.  It became clear we wouldn’t have free reign on the equipment until Monday.  There were maybe a couple small things we might maybe possibly maybe be able to do over the weekend, but that was about it.  This guy is also one of my favorite people at the plant, a dad, and he played college football so he “gets it”.  He encouraged me to hop on a plane Friday so I could make it to the game. 

At some point Thursday morning I approached Ms. Project Manager with my plan to fly out Friday and be back in the plant Monday morning.  I’d catch a plane back to Arizona Saturday if needed.  She told me not to make any travel plans until she could make a decision later in the day.  She kept me waiting all day, searching in vain for things we “could do” over the weekend.  It was much later in the day, after all the office staff had left, almost too late to ensure a seat on the morning flight when she finally told me I was allowed to go.  And she actually said these words to me … “He’s just your nephew.”

Wow.  Who is she and what gives her the right?

So I made it to the game and to every other game that season.  The entire season was about mourning the loss of Clayton.  His jersey was there at every coin toss.  His picture was there with all the seniors at the banquet.  The whole mourning process was rough but so necessary for the team, the football family that surrounded them, and the community as a whole. 

And that “he’s just your nephew” comment?  Hmmmm.  It’s people like that, with their priorities askew, that drive me to work at something that really matters, to avoid going back to situations that really don’t.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I risk tipping my hand a day early on the song of the week with this post, but whatever.  And the song is not “Attention”. 

I’m going to speak in bumper stickers for a moment.  An exercise to collect my thoughts if nothing else.

Happiness is a choice.

Embrace the change.  There will always be change.

Love never fails.

So where does God speak to you?  For me it’s usually on the beach, in a song, sometimes in a dream.  Wow, imagine if I were napping on the beach while listening to my iPod.  Anyway.  I’ve been listening to this lyric, “I’ve been held back by something you said to me quietly on the stairs.” I haven’t had a discussion with the writer on who was talking or the deeper meaning of the whole song, but it reminded me of the way God sometimes speaks to us quietly.  When we least expect it.

And then again sometimes He wallops us with a big, unmistakable sign.  You know, like, “Hey Jenn, you’re unemployed now, but I’ve got this.”  Or – and I just now remembered this one …

A few years ago I was driving back home late at night from a meeting at church.  I didn’t really have time to be on this committee.  I was working many hours at my “glamorous” Corporate America job, as usual.  I was always tired, always stressed, often spinning my wheels. 

So when we had these meetings at church once a month, my preference was to take care of business, have a good discussion, make some thoughtful decisions, and get out of there so I could get some sleep.  I do realize I’ve been blessed with a strong personality.  I don’t fear public speaking … I actually enjoy it.  I know, weird.  So if I feel I’m dominating a meeting I’ll back off and let others speak / try to get others to speak.  It drives me up a wall when they won’t.  (Patience is a virtue I need to work on.)  We have committees for a reason … to make group decisions … to take advantage of a diversity of opinion. 

I don’t remember the specifics of that night’s meeting, just that I was tired and frustrated.  I was driving through farmland, where the deer and the antelope play.  Well, deer and cattle.  And raccoons, possums, skunks, squirrels, and one peacock.  And then BOOM!  The largest doe I’ve seen in a long time tried to wrap herself around my fairly new car. 

Did the doe survive?  I have no idea, she disappeared. 

How was the car?  Fine after some body work.

Was I hurt?  Not physically.  I cried and then drove home. 

But the message from God was loud and clear.  Slow down.  You’re doing too much.  I’ve got this.  And oh by the way, I’ll smack you in the face with a deer if I have to, to get your attention.