Friday, September 27, 2013

You Are Golden

Happy golden birthday Matthew Ives.  You are 27 now and when I was...I got you. 

You bring both clarity and humor, often in the same conversation, and besides your good looks, those are traits I admire.

It's been such a joy, both depending and enjoying you.

Some favorite/fun photos:

Sorry Matt - indulge me won't you?
This is a day I will remember forever.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bad Bosses

Interesting, curious things happen at work all the time, right?  Our group, including my boss and my direct reports, received an invitation to attend a College of Business presentation on "Bad Bosses". 

Hopefully that won't be awkward.

I won't take it personally - I don't think I've cost the university billions of dollars or anything, but I also trust that I haven't demotivated the staff. 

I was fairly sure I'd be considered an "okay" boss, but you never know.  I remember reviewing a direct report's goals when he insinuated I hadn't met mine.  He wanted to get promoted and openly suggested that I hadn't done enough to get him where he wanted to go.

I told him it was his career.

He interrupted me and misunderstood me and did not listen to me.

So my eyes blurred, and I thought about what I would not eat for dinner. 

And then my defensiveness slapped me awake and I suggested that instead of just throwing rocks at our operation and my style, how would he like to help?  What would he like to lead?  What specific steps does he want to take to advance his career?

People, you can't say you want to be a leader and then refuse to step out front, refuse to step up.  I'll mentor but not mother.

Sioux Falls

This weekend we went to Sioux Falls, in the heart of America...South Dakota's largest city.  We attended the wedding of Shawn's great nephew, and, along the way, were reminded about love and loyalty and all the emotions that come with witnessing two young people newly and publicly committing.
I never get tired of this
I really like this extra glitz on the Michael's votive candle

The Mrs. Steils

Shawn with his sibs


Priceless morning walk

Friday, September 20, 2013

Birthday Buddies - part 2

Happy birthday to my dear dad. As is typical, the older I get, the more I appreciate him.  Not just what he did to provide for the nine of us, but the sacrifices that good parents make, like going to church when you'd rather roll over.  Camping in the rain and eating donuts for dinner.  Seeding my single-parent lawn dirt on Easter Sunday. 

Good parents are a pain in the neck and my dad did that for me when I needed it. 

Now what he does, what he continues to do, is to share a laugh, to pour me a drink when I visit, to talk about the easy stuff and sometimes the harder stuff, and always, always, asks about my world - he taught me that.  And in my world?  Well he has a priceless place. 

Yes, I resemble him, but you can't see all of it.  I like to think I have his quiet disposition, his quick wit, his tender take.  Happy birthday to the very best dad a girl could have.  I only hope I've made you half as proud as you've made me.

Knights of Columbus event

My parents, my friends

Birthday Buddies - part 1

Happy birthday to my big sis, Laurie.  She shares her day with our dad, and has shared her life with all of us.  She is my go-to person to gush (that obnoxious mom way) about every little thing one child or another has accomplished or received - and she listens with energy and enthusiasm (often tears) and always follow-ups.  She's been that person for me for as long as I remember and I love her for that.  Happy birthday sister.  Can't wait to share a GT with you soon.
Spending time with her Joe-Joe

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

DC Mess

No matter what side of the fence you stand on, nearly everyone agrees that things are a mess in Washington.  But when the deadly shooting rampage landed as the top news story yesterday, my knees went weak as I read in horror.  Partisan bickering pales in comparison to this ugly news.  The thought that someone would gain access to a locked government building and start shooting innocent people.  Frightening.  And scary how "another shooting" is just the way we cast it off and go about our day, turning from the pain, the threat, once we are personally cleared to return to our normal lives.

I waited a couple of hours and then texted my baby, my capable son, Joe, who moved to the District last month.  He had just learned of the news, via his own browsing break, and hadn't read up on it that much.  He tried to reassure me that he was in a locked government building.

I had to let go of how I thought the day should've play out.  Eventually I had to exit the CNN screen and turn back to my to-dos.

We can make decisions, we can pontificate on our points of view, all day long, but when these horrible events slap us out of our routines, it's a cold reminder that we sure aren't running the show.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Equally Exceptional

I'm crossing my fingers and not going to further comment on Syria, because with any luck, we will not have a new story there, not our story.  Just bad stuff, over there.

But I've been thinking a lot about exceptionalism, given the President's speech this week and the follow-up letter to Americans by Russia's president, Vladimir Putin.  Our president was pointing to our policies, and how they make us different, how they make us exceptional.  Putin states that, since we are created equal, "it is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation..."

The terms are not mutually exclusive, guys!  I think the message we can take to the table, the dinner table or the G20 summit table, is that, duh, it's a given, we are all created equal.  That's a baseline.  And then, what we DO with that, well, there's the freedom.  That's what has the chance of being something quite exceptional.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Life is better with a good friend, one who pushes and protects, prods and pulls back - sometimes all in the same day.  I spent last Saturday with my favorite girl friend, and it has recharged me in every important way.  We don't tell each other everything - but that's not the rule for solid friendship anyway.  The dance is less about leading and following, now, and more just about soaking up the glorious music.

You don't need a daughter to have a happy life, for sure, but I'm convinced it is essential to have a friend like Kate and a day like Saturday.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Be You

to be nobody but myself--in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make me somebody else--means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight, and never stop fighting.
- e.e. cummings

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I Don't Want To Go

I really don't.  I don't want us to airstrike Syria.  I know they violated some international laws, but still, I don't want to aid either side.  I don't want to get involved.  Call me an isolationist, a dove, a coward.

If you're like me, and had more questions than answers, read this very good and easy-read (thanks for sending it, Kate):

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


There are essays and theories all over the place about the extinction of deep thinking.  The idea is that we are all so busy tweeting that we forget to notice the birds, to go inward, to focus.

And then this Lake Forest College grad pops up...her story of defeat and determination, this woman who definitely was down and got back up, again and again, and found some sacred space, in the ocean, swimming for 53 hours from Cuba to Key age 64.

But she hinted that the physical demands were not as strong as the mental requirements and the disclipline she drew upon was essential and unavailable when she was younger.  Score one for aging!

To work through the pain, to circumvent the obstacles, to achieve a life long just gives me the goose bumps and does inspire the persistent, nagging refrain - Jen, what is it that you want to try?

Monday, September 2, 2013

No Labor Weekend

Weekends like this - swimming, shopping, hangin' with friends and family - this is what it's all about, right?  Oh, and did I mention we visited a new brewery?  And worked on our future?

PS - Summer, we will miss you!