I spend an interminable amount of time in meetings, both at work and with volunteer organizations. Interminable – really. While some work is done, for the most part they are a way to exchange information that could have been communicated as effectively by other means. Meetings with a focus, an agenda, a good facilitator, and people who are upbeat and engaging are great. They’re productive and you walk away feeling that you’ve accomplished something.
Then, there are the other meetings. Oh my, so many other meetings.The meetings we have because they are on the calendar even if we have nothing to discuss. The meetings where the facilitator should have an agenda because there is important work to be done but doesn’t. To compensate, or perhaps in an attempt to hoodwink the attendees, the facilitator goes into a confusing stream of consciousness diatribe as the rest of us look on with the expression of a confused miniature schnauzer trying to figure out why mommy is crying. The comments have a distinct lack of clarity, also known as “what the hell was that about?”.
I’m also a fan of meetings that end before the scheduled time. Business is done, agenda covered: done and done and on to the rest of your day. But just like in the mind numbing Intro to Economics class that ended at 5 pm on Friday freshman year, there is that guy/woman. Yes, the one who has to ask just one more question that seems to make absolutely no sense and has no relevance to the class, or well, anything. “We’re missing Happy Hour Dude – move along” (says the professor). Once again, a distinct lack of clarity.
And let’s not forget the glorious memo/email from the “mother ship”. That which holds our fates in its hands. There is mention of budgets and policies and positions and contracts and value added and transparency and choices and benefits and Fair Wages and Standards changes and…oh BINGO! (My friends who are familiar with meeting Bingo will appreciate that.) Amidst the numerous flowery paragraphs and academic speak, I actually have no f’ing clue what they said. And I’m a pretty smart cookie. A distinct lack of clarity.
I know we sometimes have to sugar coat things to make them more digestible but please, at some point, we just need to say what we need to say. Give me clarity or….give me a meeting. No, really, give me clarity.
I love fortune cookies. I actually like the way they taste and sometimes, I even like the fortune. These are the ones I save. They might be tucked into a jacket or a section of my wallet or in my pants pocket. If I’m home, one might sit on the kitchen table for a while or next to the chair where I eat dinner while watching TV, an unfortunate pairing of two bad habits. At my office, one is thrown in a desk drawer or taped to my computer monitor. All places where I need reminders that life holds more for me if I’ll let it.
Yes, I know they’re fortune cookies and they are mass produced in the bazillions but I like to think that cookies, and their fortunes, sometimes find the person who needs them most. And I’m a purist: the fortune I get is the fortune I get. If I don’t like it, I don’t double dip. I won’t keep it but I don’t go looking for a better answer. It’s like asking a friend’s advice and when you disagree with it, you keep asking until you get an answer you like. It’s disrespectful to the cookie.
My most recent find was while dipping into my wallet for change (yes, I use cash, it’s part of my new spending diet, a post for another time). “If I bring forth what is inside me, what I bring forth will save me.” Hmmm, now I have to figure out what’s in here.
Let me take a look through the inventory. Right at the top is FOMO (fear of missing out which I’m sure you knew already), that won’t help. Regret, not helpful. Embarrassing moments from my entire life that I ruminate over so they’ll live on forever? I don’t even know how I get out of bed everyday thinking about those. Pent up rage is looking for a little air time; thanks but no thanks. Wow, I have to go pretty deep in here; it’s like looking for one of those funky sea creatures that live in the deepest depths of the ocean cleverly disguised as a rock or a blob of….blob.
I found something! Let me pull this up and see what we have. There are two things actually and they seem to have grown together and they’re partially calcified. I do see a bit of color, a dim glow of blue on one of them and the faintest showing of red on the other – and it’s pulsating slowly like a heart. Oh that’s it! My heart and my hope have been hanging out in there so damn long they’ve grown together for protection.
Well, guess what? I am bringing you forth. You are my fortune and you’ve got your work cut out for you.
A year ago today I walked across the stage at Franklin Pierce University to receive my doctorate in leadership. It had been a loooong road and I had finally crossed the finish line. Now what?
My mornings, evenings and weekends were no longer filled with reading, writing, giving up, and walking away. I shamed myself into recommitting when my adviser, the wonderful Dr. Maggie Moore-West, continued to cheer me on as she’d done from the first day I started the program until the day I finally received that coveted signature page and diploma. Now what?
Okay, so it freed up a little time and a lot of stress which I could now easily reinvest into something else. I liked the little bump in pay at work but the bragging rights? I’m so ill-equipped for this bragging thing that it took me almost a year to add “Dr.” to my email signature and only with the repeated encouragement of my fellow docs at Keene State College. The signature was the compromise to shouting it from the rooftops so often suggested. I’m not accustomed to thinking of myself as accomplished or successful. It’s not the view I have of myself but how could it be when I’ve been beating myself up for years?
Fortunately, there are other people in my life who do see that. I was humbled to have three of my sisters travel hundreds of miles to share that moment with me; to witness and cheer my accomplishment. I received well wishes from family, friends and colleagues. They knew it was a big deal and helped me admit it.
So now what? I went into the program because I love the idea of learning, a gift from my mother. I also wanted to fulfill her longstanding desire to wear the doctoral tam. Although she passed away 8 months before I graduated, I’m sure she was there is spirit thinking of the Sorbonne.
I completed the program, the research, the dissertation and the graduation. And I’m still trying to figure out, “Now what?”