Personal reflections, comments about things I've been doing, etc.

Social Media Saturday

Have you ever wondered what a social media manager does during a cold winter Saturday? Well, it's not a lot different from any other day. Sure, I don't drive to the office, but I do much of my work online. Today, I checked several different email accounts, including my work accounts. I helped revise a presentation for the company I work at and kept an eye on different social media accounts, both personal and professional.

To a certain extent, social media managers are expected to be connected 24/7. Yeah, there are times I put down my smartphone and close my laptop, but they are rare. Even during my off hours, I find ways to establish stronger connections with others involved in social media.

This weekend is [x]Pendapalooza on Empire Avenue. Empire Avenue is a game where you buy stock in other people involved in social media. The value of their stock changes based on their interactions on Empire Avenue and other social media sites. [x]Pendapalooza is a twenty-four hour social media stock buying frenzy. I have been saving up for [x]Pendapalooza over the past few days, and made a lot of stock purchases this morning.

Then, I did one of my Saturday, mostly offline, rituals. I went to the dump, or, more accurately, the transfer station. After I tossed by garbage in one bin and my recycling in another, I checked in on Foursquare. Yes, I'm still the Mayor of the Woodbridge Transfer Station.

I did get a chance to take a nap. Ever since the death of my mother, I've been pretty worn down. Afterwards, I dealt with some of the issues around my mother's estate and checked in a little more on social media. I had dinner, and did more work for the office. I think I'm mostly caught up now, so I'm taking time to write. I'm back in the groove of writing every day, and I think I'm making progress improving my writing, but there are days that the blank page remains a challenge, or when I go back and read over what I've written, it just doesn't sing. Sometimes it is because inspiration has not visited. Other times, it is because I've spent so much time writing other things, that I don't have the energy to work on my blog.

It is quite now. It is cold and dark outside. Kim, Fiona and our dog Wesley are out on a mission, and it is quiet her;, the only sound being that of the furnace and the grandfather clock when it chimes the quarter hour.

Writing can be a nice repose. Now, I'll search for more inspiration, new ideas to write about and to improve my writing. Then, there will be a little more family time followed soon enough by more sleep.

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Not With a Bang

Perhaps I am just more sensitive since my mother died, followed, two and a half months later by the death of a cousin, but I'm getting tired of hearing about people I know dying. Having over 2,700 friends on Facebook, messages go by quickly, some never being seen by me.

So the other day, I read a post, "Yesterday was my husband's funeral." It was from a friend from college. For the past several months, she had been posting Facebook statuses about her husband being in and out of the hospital, so it wasn't completely unexpected, but still, I had missed the posts of his passing.

Yesterday, I saw another post from a college classmate, "Sorry to have to share sad news", it started. 2013 isn't starting much better than 2012 ended. I am tired of mourning.

Add to all of this stories of friends and friends of friends who are gravely ill, and I'm just plain tired.

Yet still, I drive to work each day, looking for moments of unexpected beauty. I come home each evening, hoping that I will have done something to improve someone's life. I sit down, trying to make meaning with words, hoping for times when energy and inspiration come hand in hand.

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Writing Excercise

The temperature was in the fifties today. It has already dropped into the thirties and the teens are in the forecast for tonight. It seems like everyone I have been speaking to recently has been exhausted, and I an no different. I've slept much of the weekend, and could probably sleep more, if there was more time.

Much of my sleep has been so deep it has been dreamless. At other times, I've surfaced enough to enter into long complicated dreams. They have many of the standard aspects of dreams, flying, being back in college. In one part, I was holding these long nails, I'd guess they were about the length from my elbows to my finger tips, which I've always heard is about eighteen inches. They were probably a quarter of an inch across, and if you took a cross section of them, they were shaped like plus signs, and not the typical circle. I believe these nails were part of what made it possible for me to fly.

I flew by tall apartment buildings, probably around ten stories tall. Each floor had a balcony with large, thin furry dogs on them, something like Irish Wolfhounds. At the end of my flight I ended up in some lounge where there was a piano, someone commented, "This is poetry, but what is that to me?"

So, here I am tired, yet writing, working on the discipline of writing. This evening's blog post, as the temperatures drop outside, is further from poetry than some of my other writing, but the question, "what is that to me' echoes in my ears. The intent of this blog post is to stay disciplined, to write every day, but what sort of impact will it have? Will it inspire others to pursue their craft with discipline? Will there be nuggets in here that will inspire people, spawn a new creative idea?

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A Lighter Day

From a writing perspective, this month has started off well with lots of material to work with. I'm back in the pattern of at least a blog post a day, and most of them have been lengthy pieces. However, I'm pretty wiped out and don't have an in depth commentary to write. I've also been wanting to work more on my wordcraft, but I don't have the energy for that this evening either, so today will be a lighter day.

This morning, I was still quite tired when I woke up. It was hard to get out of bed. When I did, I went through some of my typical morning social media and then went outside to shovel. We had received about three inches of snow and the cars needed cleaning off and enough of the driveway cleared so we could get out.

They've been doing work on the parkway tunnel, and yesterday, the traffic heading to work was particularly bad. Today, the traffic was light and my trip to the office was uneventful.

I listened to the news, stories about football injuries and some guy who used to do broadcasts recognize amazing parts of ordinary life in California. I tried to get in touch with that perspective but found nothing to grab my attention along the slush covered roads.

The day passed uneventfully. Various political stories I've been following continue to unfold. I should write more on several of them, but not tonight.

Tonight, I shall try to rest, to pace myself, and if I'm better rested, tomorrow tackle something more on the blog.

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Living Leadership Out Loud

Every month, I head up to Hartford for a CT Health Foundation Health Leadership Fellows Program meeting and I come away with lots of new questions to think about. A couple key ideas that I've personally been focusing on is being more intentional in my actions and more focused on the impact they are having. At the same time, I'm focusing on being more public about what I am thinking and feeling and the questions this brings up. It is interesting to see how these ideas interact.

This month, we spent some time talking about leadership goals we have and skills we want to work on. There seems to be something very powerful about this, and perhaps it is a good question to start every day with. What leadership skills are you going to practice today? What new discovery will you make?

It reminds me of a section from Winnie the Pooh which is quote in the Tao of Pooh:

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.

As part of our gathering, we did the The Diversity Shuffle.

[The] exercise helps to encourage discussion about differences and similarities within our communities. This can then be used as a springboard for a dialogue about power differences in our communities and how they can be addressed.

It seemed as if everyone in the group had experienced forms privation and prejudice as well privilege and plenty in different ways. Remembering the some of the experiences was painful for some of us at different times. I found the exercise very empowering. I believe that recognizing the full spectrum of our experiences is something that can help us as leaders, as we try to recruit others to work with us and as we tell stories of what we are trying to address. It was important for me that this took place in a safe environment where I could explore my background, my feelings about that background, and think about how it fits with my leadership style.

Two quotes that I often refer back to are, "There but for the grace of God go I", and a great quote from Virginia Woolf, "The only thing wrong with privilege is that not everyone has it." When I think about friends who have led much more difficult lives, I can say, there but for the grace of God go I. I can say the same thing when I think of those with great privilege. Underlying all of this is a fight to get things, too often thought of as privileges; housing, a good education, health care, healthy food, etc., to be recognized as a right, or at least a privilege that everyone should have.

The exercise was done after we had seen the movie, Race: The Power of an Illusion: The House We Live In.

The movie is close to an hour long, but it is well worth spending time watching and thinking about. It is so tempting to think about the United States with a mixed race President as being post-racial, but I suspect many of us don't know or fully comprehend the impact of U.S. racial policies in the twentieth century.

One of the big questions that whole day left me with is, what are the policies of our country today that people will look back with horror at a century from now? Is there something we should be learning from Sandy Hook or the death of Aaron Swartz?

Perhaps the biggest lesson is one that we all need to be reminded of on a regular basis, especially as we think about political leaders. Perhaps the real leaders aren't those who think they have all the answers, the real leaders are those who aren't afraid to search for new questions. The Health Leadership Fellows Program is helping me in this search for new questions and I hope these blog posts will help you search for new questions as well.

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