Parenthood Part 13 – Making it Epic

Parenthood Part 13 – Making it Epic


Submitted by admin on Mon, 07/02/2012 – 21:39

I had a little injury on the trails on Sunday and it led me to this memory of my dad and a little parenting tool called the Purple Heart for making it epic.

I got my fill of classic country music growing up from the likes of Johnny Cash and Marty Robins. There was this song in that style by Hank Thompson called “No Help Wanted” that came out in 1953, the year after my parents were married. The chorus went, “Do you need any help? Do you need any help? I can handle this job all by myself.” Well, this sort of stuck in my head, and when I was about four we were hiking in the Uinta Mountains near Ruth Lake. We crossed a boulder field and as I pulled myself onto a big one, someone asked me, “Do you need any help?” To which I sang out, “I can handle this job all by myself.” They all erupted, thinking it was so cute. I didn’t get why they were laughing, me taking myself so seriously and all. I simply wanted to make a point, “I don’t need any help, thank you very much. So I guess this shows that I was probably born with this independent streak, and have seen both sides to that asset/curse coin.

In spite of wanting to do it myself though, here’s the rub. An hour or so later, I tripped on the trail and scraped my palms and knee. Did I then sing out that I didn’t need any help? Noooo. I was sniffling and wounded, and I needed my daddy, thank you very much.

We stopped, and he pulled out a blue ball point pen from his pocket. Now, why he would be hiking the backcountry with a Bic is something I have never questioned until, well, this very moment. Maybe it was luck or maybe he had planned ahead. This wasn’t his first parenting rodeo, after all. Regardless, he did something that always struck me as a wonderful bit of fatherhood. He crouched down, asked to see the damage and held my chubby little palm in his scratchy one. Just thinking of those calloused hands and his plain gold wedding band chokes me up now.

Well, he used that pen to draw a little blue heart on the back of my knuckle. As we looked at this little temporary tattoo he explained that when soldiers are wounded in action, they are awarded the Purple Heart, a high honor in service to our country. And so now, to acknowledge my injury and for exceptional bravery, I was bestowed a purple heart of my own.

It just doesn’t take much to delight a kid, to turn a little blood into a badge of honor. It makes me reflect on what it takes to remain that little girl, so easy to make happy and so ready for adventure. And what does it take to bring a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie to a family? Sometimes not more than a little ink.

“This Time For Sure” – Failure and Optimism

“This Time For Sure” – Failure and Optimism


Submitted by admin on Sat, 07/07/2012 – 08:39

A colleague recently asked me if I think failure is essential to becoming a good leader, and it got me thinking about some times my family and I have been smacked flat.

Hartley and Gaye Anderson had a few bad ideas along the way, some stinkers in the product name department (Queen Clean for an herbal cleanse, for example), and they dealt with a flake or two on their journey. While they were getting the mineral business off the ground, they put out a commemorative souvenir called “Golden Spiked Water,” for the 100th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad’s completion–Great Salt Lake water in a clear plastic flask. Big flop.

But here is what separates successful entrepreneurs from those who go back to a 9-5 job: an indelible optimism that enables them to try again. My parents cradled this kind of faith, especially during times of failure, loss and heartbreak. No matter how difficult the prior year might have been, no matter how hard it was to pull off another Christmas miracle for their family, New Years Eve was one of the biggest holidays for our family. It represented a fresh start, another chance to make it work. Every New Year’s Eve Mom and Dad would look at each other, grin and say, “This time for sure.”

When things got tough, they knew to the core that they had something special, a purpose worth fighting for. They met people all across the country—and later all over the world—who told them how much our products had improved their lives. Those interactions were enough to keep them going after a rough week and until the next order slid into their PO box. In sticking with it they ultimately helped millions worldwide and created an entire category. If a health product is from the Great Salt Lake, it is either made by my family or has its origins with them. They made a respectable living doing it–never got wealthy–but always had enough to eat and a roof over their heads. Now they would not trade their experiences or legacy for all the money or accolades in the world.

The upside of surviving failure is that it teaches us that a mistake or a disaster is not life ending. A person or a business can recover. In 1995 my family’s operation suffered a devastating fire, they day after they returned from biggest trade show in their busiest month on record. One day they were growing like crazy and the next their dreams were gutted like the inside of their building, reduced to ash and smoke. They could not have predicted, however, that it would be a time of real closeness and camaraderie at the company. In a surprising twist, the insurance money allowed us to rebuild bigger and with a more efficient design. We were better off after, not in spite of it but because of it.

But what about when failure it is our own doing? From my own mistakes, I know for sure that I much prefer to learn the easy way. It is better to be coachable by wiser people, and humility also helps. Taking your lumps has a way of putting folks on your side who will throw you a rope if you start sucking water. I also now know that I am completely capable of choosing the hard way because of my own selfish, obstinate, rebellious flaws. That’s sobering. So don’t think I’m romanticizing failure here. It stinks. Getting your teeth knocked out ought to be the method of last resort.

But sometimes it is part of the process. I remember after a particularly painful lesson the hard way, I confided to my parents in the understatement of the year, “That didn’t work so well.” They then told me how Thomas Edison had thousands of experiments on the light bulb that might be considered failures. He said, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”(Footnote 1)

So do I think failure is essential to become a good leader? Absolutely. Until we experience failure we are prone to recklessness for not knowing it and paralysis in fear of it. The memory of failure leaves respect for its possibility, and liberation from a fear that failure is the end. It blunts the ego and plants seeds of empathy.


Look for more on my blog at or on Twitter @rhondalauritzen, where you can join the conversation #LegacyInStory

Rhonda Lauritzen is the author of Every Essential Element, available on in print and Kindle format for $3.95. ( By Like Rain Publishing (, which is helps business leaders complete their stories. Follow this series and others, including essential elements of parenthood at

* Footnote 1: – Thomas A. Edison, Encyclopedia Britannica, US inventor (1847 – 1931)

Intuition: When You Just Get to Knowin’ Something

Intuition: When You Just Get to Knowin’ Something


Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/16/2013 – 14:59

Intuition: “When You Just Get to Knowin’ Something”

For a full year before my parents started in business they had an itch that they should be doing something else. They had moved into the city but made a promise to get their sons back into fresh air as soon as they could. The whole family felt out of sorts, like their real home was elsewhere.

They were waiting, but for what? A psychic told my mom during that time, “This is the strangest thing but I see a house in your future. And it’s driving down the road. It is not a mobile home; it is a real house and it is driving down the road.”

They scouted out an area west of town where they wanted to be and found a plot of land they liked, but there were no finished houses on the market in their budget. Absolutely nothing. Long story short, they got notice that their rental house had been sold and they had to be out pronto. That week my dad was driving past the new I-80 freeway construction and saw a house for sale–to be moved from its current location. He peeled off the road, scribbled the number and told my mom that night, “I found our house.” That plot of land land worked out and they arranged for the house to be delivered, all without thinking once about the psychic. That is, they didn’t until my mom gasped upon seeing their house drive down the road on a truck.

In that house their business began and it grew. When the idea first hit at the kitchen table, it pulsed through my dad and he couldn’t let it go. Mom was more cautious–the idea was way out there–but he seemed to know, to know they had found something special. This might be their destiny. He was right.

They thought this would be their last house, and they did love it for a dozen years until a restless feeling set in again. Their business had stretched and they were spending a lot of time commuting to “the plant,” their production facility. It made sense to look for a bigger place with a garage for a proper office, closer to the plant.

During this time they spotted the perfect house, a newer split level close to everything and with garden plot. For two years whenever we drove past, Mom would day, “If we lived there, we’d be home now.” We moved in right before Christmas when I was in the third grade. They converted the garage and basement into office space and it was perfect. Once again, it was as if they just knew.

Here is the part of the story in which I become my parents. Three years ago my husband-to-be emailed me a real estate listing to illustrate his all-time perfect house, a quintessential Queen Anne Victorian. Since he was a little boy, before he learned what they were called and all the reasons they were special, he daydreamed of living in a Queen Anne. On a whim, we toured it expecting to find a dump for the price. It needed some work, an old house always will, but it took our breath away. We could afford it and made an offer. The sellers accepted but we hit a few snags. It needed more work than I could do on my own, and we weren’t quite engaged yet. He was worried about me living alone in a dodgy neighborhood. The bottom dropped from housing market as AIG filed for bankruptcy that month. The seller wouldn’t budge on repairs and we got cold feet. The timing wasn’t quite right.

We got married and for the next three years, every time we drove downtown, we slowed down past that house and wondered if it was loved. We could tell by the sagging appearance that it wasn’t. We looked at other historic houses, but compared them all to this one, like a first love or the one that got away. A year ago, I predicted in my journal that someday we would live there. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that this was meant to be, and I wanted a record to see if my intuition was right.

Last autumn Milan saw it come up on the MLS and before they had a sign in the yard we were hefting our furniture up the spiral staircase.

I’ve written before about not getting emotionally attached to the inventory. A house is just a house. It’s a place to live and a tool to serve a family’s purposes. If circumstances change, it behooves us to let go. So to be clear, it’s not that I think that our stuff matters in the cosmic scheme. What does intrigue me is the idea that we each have a purpose and there may be times when a move or a job can position us to fulfill the reasons we are here on this earth. So although I have to admit that Milan and I have allowed ourselves to love this place, even though it is just a thing, it feels right for us to be here now.

I also can’t ignore the way there have been times in my life when I just knew something deep in my gut. I remember my dad’s eyes lighting up when he tried to explain this to me, while struggling for the words. He wanted me to trust the light inside that seems to know. “There are times when you just get to knowin’ something. When that happens there is no stopping it, no stopping you.”

Last year I heard someone say, “intuition is knowing without knowing why.” I have experienced that.

Here is one last example. Before I met Milan I had an abiding peace settle over me that my life was on track, even though I was single and not dating. I wondered if it meant that perhaps I wouldn’t ever marry again. Maybe my life was supposed to be a different than the Utah norm, and I felt serenity about this. Then, not too many weeks later something inside me changed all at once. One moment I was content, and the next there was this hole in my heart, like something was now missing. I do not know how I knew, but in a flash (in the restroom of a Subway sandwich shop of all places), I wept for what hadn’t even been missing before. I dried my eyes and knew it was time to date again.

I posted an online profile, met Milan shortly after and we connected on the very first date. He was everything I could never be, completing my life in ways I had never imagined. The timing had been impeccable for many reasons.

I don’t know why intuition speaks to us sometimes, and I don’t know how it works. Are there cosmic forces of destiny at work, or are there times when that sense of knowing leads us to take confident action, thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophesy? Is intuition just an ability to process information in a smarter way than we realize, or is it more like prayer or a higher power leading us toward our purpose? Or I wonder if perhaps there is some truth in each of these hypotheses depending on the circumstances.

I am totally curious about the mechanics, but regardless I have come to recognize that voice inside. I am getting better at listening and being open to where it will lead me. I have seen the miraculous in my life. I believe in this.

Do you? I’d love to hear your perspectives.

Outside Our Hermetically Sealed Packages

Outside Our Hermetically Sealed Packages


Submitted by admin on Fri, 07/27/2012 – 07:54

After breakfast last Saturday my husband said to pack a bag and get ready to ride, pronto. Twenty minutes later we were on the open road for the maiden voyage of our new/old touring motorcycle and my first travel experience in this mode. I am a desk worker and meeting attender by day so I had a hunch I would enjoy this but did not know how much, nor why.

First off, we took back highways from here to Cedar Breaks, highways that cut through farms and main streets where the speed limit–in every way–is just slower. We passed family reunions, funerals in cemeteries, and so much open land I was thrilled by the vastness of this country’s interior and the reminder that it still is! Living in cities, one just forgets.

There was something else, too. I had forgotten how much cars remove us from the five senses that reveal the world. The one I noticed most—and that moved me to exhilaration—was smell. Every moment on that road came blended with scents and odors that read the terrain without using my eyes. In the morning I breathed damp marshes along Legacy Highway, and as it warmed up the asphalt smelled of tar while cheat grass hills radiated baked earth and pungent sage. All afternoon we rode on Highway 89 past parks wafting charred hamburgers and country diners serving comfort food. Open fields smelled of cattle, horses and hay. Then afternoon monsoons rolled in and drenched me with joy in perhaps my favorite smell of all time – fat rain drops on dry desert dirt. Then we climbed into the mountains and the rain made everything somehow more. Cedars were more cedary. Dirt was more earthy. And pines more piney. We were alive and I felt a part of the landscape, not apart from it.

It got me thinking about how much time we spend in carefully controlled environments for our comfort. They are like hermetically sealed packages that keep the outside out and the inside separate. I am not kidding when I say there are days inside my office when for an instant, I have to think about what month it is. What season for crying out loud. That is how removed life has become.

Now, lest I sound like a complete brat complaining that life is too comfortable, please know that I regularly thank the Almighty for stuff like, “clean hot water that comes on with a knob, a heated and air conditioned home, a car to get us places, and so much beautiful food I’m getting fat.” We are a spoiled society when we complain of having too much. I get that. But I also recognize that comfort may not build character, and too much of the indoors can leave us outside what is most alive on Earth.

So what’s this got to do with parenthood? With the passing of Steven Covey recently, I was reminded of a talk he gave on parenting. In his research, he found a common thread in families that describe themselves as “close.” They all went camping together. He conceded that there are probably other ways to achieve the same effect, but there seemed to be something special about getting outdoors together. In his analysis, it was a combination of being away from the distractions of everyday life, surrounded by nature, and in an environment not regulated by a thermostat. Things go wrong, there are mishaps and people have to be resilient. Families grow together and form epic memories not in spite of these events, but precisely because of them.

I couldn’t agree more, and I cherish memories of camping each summer. If I had come from a wealthy family, trips to Europe or vacations in beach resorts would have been amazing, I am sure. But I didn’t. The Andersons vacationed in the back country, sleeping in a beat-up camper and tents. We cooked hot cakes on the fire and we reeked of camp smoke. Sometimes we got rained on at 4am. Sometimes we froze our toes and did without whatever we left home. We caught fish, cleaned them with a pocket knife and ate them within hours. Our hands would keep that smell for days. For days. And my memory still keeps it.

Thank you, mom and dad, for getting us away from TV and out in the wild. For letting us experience the world with every sense. For awe at God’s creations and putting problems in contrast to the night sky. For curiosity at a tiny elephant-head flower and gratitude for a fish that gave its life to supper. For a healthy respect of the elements, and most of all for a close family.

On Growing Up in Roy

On Growing Up in Roy


Submitted by admin on Sat, 05/18/2013 – 10:32

To Roy, my alma matter, rising above the rest…um, I have never exactly felt that way, that we from Roy were any better than anyone else. I’ve noticed that if you ask Roy grads where we went, we say “Good old Roy High,” with an oh-shucks gesture. It’s self-deprecating, not exactly an apology but not brimming with hometown pride either. Let’s face it, Roy is not now nor will ever be considered the bedrock of Weber County. I doubt anyone will ever speak in envious tones, “Oh, Roy is where the up and comers are moving.”

I wrote this after running an errand in my old Roy neighborhood. I found it, to quote the Talking Heads “Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.” Somehow, though, this time it made me smile. No condescension, just affection as I passed brick split levels with the sprinklers watering patches of green, marigolds and petunias. These gardens will never make Sunset magazine. I can’t think of any neighborhoods in Roy new enough to be called trendy, nothing grand enough to be called stately. That said, when we grew up there was no abject poverty either. The homes were tidy, the carports in decent repair. If I had to pinpoint the surprising strength of our high school, it was this.

We were all middle class. In socioeconomic terms, probably lower middle class, actually. Our folks were school teachers, police officers, and small business owners. They commuted to Hill Air Force base, or were stay-at-home moms. We had some single parents, and we were the first generation of latchkey kids. Everyone thought generation X would be lost, but we’ve become a surprisingly self-reliant, hardy bunch. We we learned to fend for ourselves while Mom was still at work. We are thriving now because we worked after school at Convergys or Burger Bar. We earned our own cash for school clothes and put gas in our beater cars. We then worked our way through College. Few of our parents had much extra, I mean, how many of us vacationed in Hawaii every year? We were more likely to camp in the Uintas or drive straight through to Disneyland to lodge in the cheaper motels. None of my friends had everything they wanted, and as adults we have no sense of entitlement. It drives us nuts when people do.

Thing is, our parents were good people who volunteered as scout leaders and didn’t put up with a lot of crap from us. They let us ride our bikes until dark without monitoring our GPS coordinates. We might have been latchkey kids, but we also held the last bastions of childhood freedom. The term helicopter parents hadn’t been invented yet.

Roy High had plenty of cliques–I’m not especially proud of my part in this–but groups were not divided by the haves and have nots. A Pretty in Pink caste system didn’t exist in “Good ‘ol Roy High.” For that I am, and will always be grateful. I think it helps us see people as people. I’m not intimidated by money or exceptional intellect. I’m not gifted, but I have friends from Roy who are. Some are gay, some are straight. Some kept the faith, others lost it but found God. Some are divorced, others have a bunch of kids. We are making our livings as computer programmers, social workers and yes, commuting to base.

Most of us have more education than our parents, and we are trying to do right by them. We volunteer and hope everyday to do as good a job with our kids as they did with us. Time will tell if we live up to that, but we’re doing our best.

Today, a surprising number of my dearest friends came from Roy. Steven King said (I may be paraphrasing), “You’ll never have friends like the ones when you were 12.” I can count so many—not just Facebook friends, but people I still see and love—who I knew then. You stood by me through distance and divorce, through marriages and births. I plan to grow old with you in my life.

Yes, there were drugs in our school, teen pregnancies, and our years were marked by a few tragedies. I hope those who are no longer with us know that we still love you. It is 25 years later, and I still cry when I remember your birthday. I can’t help but wonder who you might have been, who your kids would be now.

As we approach our twentieth reunion, I suspect we each secretly hope that will be a few ’93 grads who have been wildly successful, just to show that a kid from Roy High can. I can think of a few who made it. But we’re becoming less worried about all the time. We are growing at ease with who we are, and not feeling terribly insecure that we mostly grew up to be middle class like our folks, with a patch of green lawn, marigolds and petunias. We got a surprisingly good education in those 70s, river rock, public school walls. We had a community looking out for us.

Perhaps now as we approach 40, the question is not whether we are proud of Roy, but whether Roy will be proud of us.

You gotta fish when they’re biting

You gotta fish when they’re biting


Submitted by admin on Sat, 08/04/2012 – 08:38

One frosty morning before dawn Dad whooped outside our tent. “C’mon, get up. Time to catch fish.”
We groaned. “It’s cold! Come back when the sun is up.”
He was unfazed. “If you want to catch fish, you have to get out when they’re biting. And they are biting now. I’ve got hotcakes on the griddle and the fire is crackling. Nap later.”

We stumbled out to a toasty fire and a hint of color behind 12,000-foot peaks. Fog swirled around the lily-ringed lake below camp. Twenty minutes later we had lines in the water and by the time the sun warmed through our layers we had a string of fish.

As we walked back to camp Dad said, “I want you to remember today. You might not feel like dragging your britches out of bed. You might not feel ready to take an opportunity. But you have to get out when the fish are frisky, not when it’s convenient for you. It’s so simple but most people miss it, either too scared, unprepared, or unwilling. If you act, you will always have opportunities.”

Years later I considered applying for a promotion and found myself at Mom and Dad’s table. “I’m not sure if I should. Other people know more than me. I’m really young and don’t feel like I’m good enough.”

They encouraged me to go for it. “No one feels ready for a big step. If you wait, the opportunity will pass. Throw your hat in the ring and if you get it, work your guts out. If you don’t, what have you lost? You won’t regret the chances you take but you might regret being too hesitant to try.”

So I applied and somebody more qualified got it. I didn’t feel bad because it was a chance to show that I wanted a career there. In an unexpected twist, a year later, the same position came open again. I had grown a bit and this time I was offered the job. I still worried that I was inadequate, but good people helped more than they will ever get credit for, more than I deserved. Five years later, I still feel lucky—every day—to have this job. If I had waited until I felt ready, who knows when the fish might have been biting again?

Eat Your Breakfast

Eat Your Breakfast


Submitted by admin on Sat, 04/20/2013 – 12:40

Let’s get one thing out of the way. I love breakfast. When you are a morning person, few pleasures top breakfast fare, simple and perfect. The chance to be unhurried during my most optimistic time is a real treat (for me anyway, my chipper chatter might overwhelm a quiet night-person hubby at times, but he listens anyway). The M-F grind doesn’t afford this sit-down luxury, but on weekdays we still grab something healthy in the a.m.

This habit started in childhood. My mom cooked Sunday pot roasts but Dad was the morning person and he attended to this detail while she adjusted to the idea of a new day. He saw to it that I didn’t leave without something nutritious in my belly. It might only be blended juice and a protein scoop or an egg sandwich to go, but it was always something.

I’ve been thinking about how we rarely say thanks for how people PREVENT life from going wrong. Like how at work this week someone deescalated a conflict that was spiraling toward a formal grievance. Instead, good listening skills and mediation up front sidestepped a massive headache. I think of breakfast like this.

There is a heap of evidence for the morning meal. When kids eat something healthy and filling, they can pay attention, play, and develop normally. It helps prevent obesity and a lifetime of bad eating habits.

I will never know what my life might have been without this daily boost, but I do know I have been blessed with good health, an appetite for wholesome food, and was an eager student. What if I had rushed out the door with only a can of Coke? What if one thankless act done each day out of love and consistency, was the tipping point for me? What if it made a difference I can never quantify?

There was a relationship benefit too. We often talked for a few minutes before school. On weekends we had raucous family sit-downs over piled-high hot cakes and eggs. The sound of dad signing his heart out wafted with bacon aromas into our rooms. We came without being called. Okay, that might be nostalgia taking over because they probably had to still drag teenagers out, but you get my fondness for these memories.

I am grateful for more than just breakfast. My generation might have been the last to know mealtime as an institution. It seems quaint in a ballet-practice-volunteer-board-Taekwondo-frenzied America, but Milan and I have made this commitment. We eat dinner together—at the dining room table or a restaurant—every single night. If I have a work event or he’s in school, we wait for the nightly ritual. We do not eat alone and microwave meals later, ever.

I have found it hard to explain that I won’t be available at mealtime. People look at me funny when I say, “We eat at around six so I need to be home then.” I no longer do community boards that have dinner meetings and people seem puzzled by my excuse that we eat as a family. Like, “don’t you have our own life?” Actually I have stopped explaining. I just decline commitments that chew up this part of my life.

I can’t expect people to understand that this is our very best time. My shy spouse opens up and tells me about his day. He listens to mine. Sometimes we don’t converse at all but just enjoy the food and each other’s company. This is what we do. On weekends with the girls, they know to be ready at dinnertime, no argument needed. When our child is born, we will continue this tradition even as we adjust to a baby-centered routine. I know life gets busy and teenagers scatter, but I think—I hope like everything—that in our house, we will provide breakfast and eat dinner as a family.

We will make many mistakes, but maybe this is one thing we can do. And maybe it will make a difference. It’s the least I can do to thank a mom and dad who gave this for me.

My dad–Hartley Anderson–was my mentor

My dad–Hartley Anderson–was my mentor


Submitted by admin on Thu, 06/07/2012 – 21:25

My dad was my mentor in business and life. So from now until Father’s Day, I thought I would share some short quotes, hopefully doing him justice. So here goes.

#1: To catch fish, go out early when they are biting. The same principle applies in business.

#2: To get the job say what you want. Remember that “You don’t ask you don’t get,” but be specific. Simply saying “I’ll do anything” will get you passed over.

#3: Don’t get emotionally attached to the inventory. All stuff is inventory to fulfill purpose, not for its own sake.

#4: The purpose of the business is for family, never the other way around. Grow kids through your biz and your kids will grow it.
(And I’ll add this follow-up comment: This comes from a time when someone told my dad that he shouldn’t have the kids around the business because it wasn’t professional and he said, basically “You don’t get it, I am growing my kids through the business. That is the purpose here. The business is for my family, my family isn’t for serving the business.” And in the end, that philosophy led to kids who were capable of growing it and taking the company to the next level. It grew much more than if he had kept it to himself. I always liked that lovely irony.

#5: “A good deal with bad people is a bad deal.”

#6: We don’t have the luxury to say it can’t be done. Payroll to meet, purpose to fulfill = figure it out. There is always a way.

#7: “You can’t steer a parked car.”

#8 “If being retired means I do what I want, I retired at 39, the year I started in business. I never worked harder or had more fun.”

#9- “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

#10 “At a trade show, hired hands sit but owners stand & greet everyone. People won’t stop while you are seated.”

#11: My mom’s father advised the young suitor Hartley, “If you want her, fight for her.” He did and he got the girl. They were married–AND in love–for 55 yrs. That advice turned out to be an over-arching philosophy in life. He fought for whatever he truly believed in, whether a cause, or his family or his business.

Colleagues- Love not too strong a word

Colleagues- Love not too strong a word


Submitted by admin on Fri, 02/14/2014 – 11:58

Dangerous territory, love. It makes you vulnerable and opens the potential for heartache. Is letting your guard down really worth it? At this phase in my life when it comes to people I work with, I have decided that love is worth the risk. Here is why.

Consider the alternative. Anyone who is gainfully employed will spend more time with co-workers than with family and friends. I have tried to imagine two different scenarios.

The first is one where my career ends without really caring for those I interacted with daily. That idea seems such a hollow waste. What if instead my colleagues become as dear to me as anyone else in my life. Either scenario is my choice, but the second would make my working years worthwhile regardless of what I accomplish. Seriously, it’s an exercise in humility to realize my achievements at work will be pretty short lived after I’m out the door.

I learned about loving at work from my entrepreneur parents who taught their children that relationships are the most important thing we can build. That is why for this post I chose the picture of my first colleagues–brothers and parents. My parents were in the “there will be a next life” camp which meant to them that relationships and character will be all that carry over. Alternatively, you’re of the mind that this life is all we get, then all the more urgency to spend it wisely. When we are gone, only legacy will remain. Will our lives have mattered to others and the planet? Either way, love will be the difference.

Back to my parents, I know now that people loved them because they loved people. Their work in a family business was not separate from who they were, but rather interwoven in their fabric. They loved their mission, their employees and customers. Genuinely and wholly.

Yes, it can get difficult if, as a manager, you have to do hard things. But consider this. While it is important to draw boundaries at work, i.e., you can’t be unreserved pals with people in your chain of command, I still think it’s possible and yes even important to love. I say important because love serves as a check on the other side of things. If you love someone, you can’t go rogue without regretting it. Love reminds me to treat people with fairness and with thought to their potential.

What about times when corrective action is needed? Love means that ESPECIALLY then I need to consider a colleague’s best interest. Love gives courage to kindly and even if firmly give someone an opportunity to improve. It means that my role as manager isn’t just one of holding people accountable, but rather one of coach to help them become better. This means mentoring, encouragement and setting high expectations.

Isn’t this what I’d hope my boss would do with me? (And this is, indeed, what she does. ) Herein is the golden rule. Treating people as we want to be treated is the one inarguable thread in all world religions and ethical frameworks. This is the standard by which all cultures measure morality.

I haven’t always been perfect on this and I’m still not, of course. Especially as a young manager faced with very tough decisions, I handled some things in a way I wish I could change. I really do. That is why I have decided to let myself love now. That is why I cried when a dear colleague retired recently. Why I still have lunch with former co-workers. Why I flew to San Diego for a former boss’s funeral. Because love is not too strong a word.

The Biggest Surprise in Becoming a Mother

The Biggest Surprise in Becoming a Mother


Submitted by admin on Thu, 07/31/2014 – 07:34

A while back I chatted with a friend and she asked me, “What was the biggest surprise of becoming a mother?” I thought about it.

It wasn’t how much love I feel. Although the love is completely enveloping, I suppose people had prepared me for something I bigger than I could describe. They were right. I also wasn’t surprised by how much work it is. People talk a lot about that and because my husband is a stay-at-home dad and perhaps because of the deep gratitude we feel at having this child, it hasn’t been a chore. For quite a while I felt tired and not totally on my game, but that comes with the territory. It also isn’t how fast the time is going. At my age, I really grasp that the time will go in a blink. We need to enjoy every minute. The best description I have heard for this period of time is “long days, short years.” Perfect.

Here is what I didn’t expect.

I feel EVERYTHING more deeply than I could have imagined. To the core. Faith. Hope. Love. Peace. Exhaustion. Empathy. Sorrow for others and the heartaches they bear. When I think about those who have lost children, I ache in my bones. My mind turns to my brother who lost his son, my grandma Anderson, my great-grandma Larsen who each lost children. I want to wrap my arms around every mother who has ever buried a baby.

On the other end of the spectrum is playfulness. The desire to dance. Childlike awe at life. Laughter. Gratitude. The world is magical and surprising through a little one’s eyes.

Here is another emotion. I know now that before I got pregnant, I had never felt fear before. Not really. This is an order of magnitude greater. This is fear that only a parent can have for the safety of their children. I have this underlying trembling that something might ever happen to Hartley Anne. I worry about her cute daddy too. Please, God. Please keep our little family safe. I know it’s not fair to ask this when other people suffer, but I plead with you. I don’t know how I would go on living.

I also feel so much joy at the beauty of it all that it sometimes comes spilling out my eyes. I find myself turning my head to hide what seems like such a stupid display and I imagine people saying, “She’s so emotional since she had a baby.” Yep. Pretty much.

I alluded to this before but it bears repeating. Most of all, I feel love. Love and hope. I love my family more than these pale words will every convey. I hope that baby girl will someday grow up and experience this much love too. I hope that I can help make this a better world for her. I hope I can help her learn resilience and can help her grow toward her own unique potential so she can someday have this too. I hope she can be the kind of person who makes the world a little better for having been in it, a little better for her children and their children.