Tuesday, August 24, 2021


Yesterday was apparently Pumpkin Spice day at Starbucks. I know this because no less than four people have told me, including an announcement on the morning news. Despite our insistence on moving ever-closer to “all things fall,” the weather forecast for the remainder of the week is all 90’s, all the time (kinda like my Pandora account…). So, we wait.

That’s the thing about time, no matter how much we want it to pass or to stand still, it keeps on ticking. Time, as we know, doesn’t change. The length of a second, a minute, an day, a month, and a year are always the same. What changes is our relationship to time that alters our perspective. When we want time to move more slowly to preserve something wonderful, time perseveres and passes anyway. When we want to be squarely on the other side of something less wonderful, time perseveres at the allotted  pace despite our most desperate desires.

Time, it turns out, doesn't care about our feelings.

Because of our ever-changing relationship to time, scientists have labeled time-perception as an officially fluid thing. The way we feel about whatever it is we are experiencing will affect the way we perceive time in that moment. For many years, scientists described a theoretical model of time perception as sort of a

biological stopwatch that sped up and slowed down in line with our focus and attention. The more attention we pay to time itself, the slower it seems to pass. The more attention we pay to what we are doing, the more quickly time seems to pass. Happiness draws our attention to the source of the emotion. Happiness pulls our attention away from time, so we are less aware of its passage. Sadness and fear, on the other hand, are emotions from which we turn away, focusing our attention more on the passage of time as we painfully await the end of the experience that is the root of these more negative emotions. To make it even more complex, witnessing an event such as watching a video or a live performance of some spectacular (dangerous) feat will alter our perception of time. If we watch someone on YouTube careening down a hill on a mountain bike, our adrenaline will change our perception of time and we may be surprised by how little time has passed. When we are in nature, time often feels as though it has all but stopped, because our relationship to time is almost suspended and irrelevant. 

Suffice it to say that time is relative to how we are feeling and what we are doing. This past eighteen months of pandemic time have definitely had their impact on us, and the longer we need to wait for the end, the more slowly it feels as though time is passing. It’s taking FOREVER to be on the other side and realizing that new normal they promised. Two things that will help us weather this storm are our ability to bounce back from adversity and our ability to push through when things get difficult: our resilience and perseverance. So as we wait for fall, with joy or with dread, time will pass as it will, but we will keep moving forward, perhaps with a pumpkin spice in hand, knowing fall will come when it always does—no matter how we feel about it.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Writing--for Publication!

Greetings, Dear Readers. 

For those of you who've been following this space, I am sure it will not surprise you to learn that I am finishing up a book for publication. It is more of a guided journal, and it represents so much of my own development over the past five years that I am feeling a little apprehensive. 

The work contains 52 weekly reflective essays, each with a few bullet points to guide the reader toward incorporating the lesson into their own life (similar to my previous two posts, which are excerpts). Each week falls into a theme of leadership, personal development, or professional development, with plenty of overlap between them. It is designed for a working individual, whether at a for-profit, a nonprofit, or as a volunteer, and my hope is that this work will provide a framework for examining previous experiences and taking those well-earned lessons into the future as we all work to become better versions of ourselves. I also included a list of vetted recommended sources, a complete bibliography, and an index, so you can go through it "choose your own adventure" style. 

Writing this out feels good. I am proud of what I have created, and with many of the essays first posted here in earlier forms, I think you will be prepared as well as pleasantly surprised by what I'm offering. That being said, since this book represents so much of who I am and my process of becoming, the imposter syndrome is arising a bit. 

So, I write these words to announce my work. It's not published just yet, but placing these words here as a promise are the boost I need to move past my own misgivings and wavering confidence to finish up and share my work with you. 

You are all stars in the night sky of my life. I appreciate your light, no matter how far away you may be. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Compassion Through Imagination

Not all of us are great scholars or even interested in scholarly pursuits. Most of us want to do our work, do it well enough to finish the day with a sense of peace, and go home to our loved ones where we are the masters of our domain, pursuing our own delights and catering to our own whims. During this time of autonomy, we often turn to reading or watching television as favored pastimes.  Our favorite books and shows wash over us, sweeping us into their stories as the reality of our own world floats away. During these times, when we are engrossed in the dialogue and nonverbal communication, we assess and make sense of the situation, even anticipating what may come next and preparing ourselves to react. We find delight in guessing correctly what turn the story will take and equally enjoy being surprised by an unexpected plot twist. As we go deeper into the story, we find ourselves relating to one of the characters and even imagine the entire story from their point of view. It’s as though we have become Hermione Granger, Naruto, or T’Challa (Wakanda Forever!). 

This deep connection is only possible because of our ability to imagine ourselves in the story. Our connection to ourselves expands to include the thoughts, feelings, and outcomes of the character. When we engage in this practice with the intention to connect and be changed by the story, we are making this time, this practice, sacred. Sacred, while typically reserved for items related to religion, means to set something apart with reverence and respect. We all have things in our lives that we have marked as sacred: our family, our heirloom Bible or Quran passed down from our grandmother, our grandfather’s pipe, our baby pictures of our grown children (from the time before digital photography), and so on. These things are sacred to us because we have made them so. The same is true of our experiences, lived or shared vicariously from others.

Engaging purposefully in this practice—watching or reading with the intention of allowing the content to move and to change us—engages our imagination in a sacred way.  We rejoice when great things happen to us in the mind of that persona, we despair with them in their grief, we laugh, we cry, and above all, we are moved by how it must feel to be them in each moment. The word for this connection in which we possess a deep understanding of how it must feel to be in another’s shoes is empathy. It is our sacred imagination that allows us to empathize with the characters, and this is an important practice we can use in our personal lives to enrich our relationships.

Sometimes, self-reflection uncovers areas where our ideals are higher than our humanity (our bar is set too high), and we must get back in touch. Imagine the connection you have with a friend or a coworker or even a customer or client. Imagine how it must feel to be where they are right now, in the middle of whatever they are going through, and embrace that feeling. From this point of view, we are better able to understand their actions, their reactions, and even their motivations. This act of empathizing with another is the very foundation that allows us to respond to them with compassion. When we take the time to understand how they are experiencing their situation, we are able to connect with them in ways that makes our time with them more sacred, more healing, and more effective.

The most powerful way to connect with another human being is through understanding them in a way that helps us to grow together toward a better mutual outcome. That is the very essence of compassionate collaboration and will strengthen our families, our teams, and our community relationships.

  • Stepping into someone else’s shows as a sacred act allows us to collaborate with compassion.
  • Where do you see relationships that will benefit from more compassion?
  • Where do you see opportunities to help others understand your own journey in a mutually respectful way?