creativity

Wonder: What do you do now if you work in healthcare?

Working for a financial services firm during the recession that started in 2007 has proven to be quite a blessing now that I have some distance from it. Just as the economy was in turmoil then, there are a number of industries now that face similar challenges to their business models and my current industry, healthcare, is one of them.

From this moment forward, I spend my time thinking about what we do now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be repealed or recast in any number of ways. What products, services, and systems can help protect our most vulnerable people? I couldn’t have imagined that the painful lessons I learned in financial services from 2008-2012 would be useful in this way and so soon, but life’s like that sometimes. We go through hardship and difficulty because they have something to teach us that we will be able to use to help others down the line. I will try to hang onto that tough and necessary lesson in the coming months and years.

creativity

Wonder: Staring Donald Trump in the eye and not flinching

Tonight, Donald Trump and his family were interviewed by Lesley Stahl for 60 Minutes. My first reaction was “I can’t watch that”. And my next thought was “I have to watch that”. I have to bear witness, because as ugly and painful as it may be, bearing witness is vital to democracy and freedom. For reasons I can’t quite share yet because they are still in the fundamental planning stages, it was crucial that I watch that interview. I need to look this man in the eye, albeit through a TV screen, and know exactly what we’re up against. His presidency is about to have an enormous impact on my life and the lives of so many others whom I hold dear. As an entrepreneur, innovator, product developer, writer, and activist, I have to listen so that when I speak and act I do so armed with truth and knowledge. Take heart, friends, the only way out is through, and together we will get through this.

 

creativity

Wonder: Good trouble’s comin’ to town

“Some of the sweetest berries grow among the sharpest thorns.” ~Scottish Proverb

The new administration has activated an ugly underbelly in this country. And it’s also activated something else it didn’t bargain for—you, me, and everyone else who cares about fair treatment, justice, and dignity for all people. Let’s not underestimate the power of persistent, unrelenting goodness and what Congressman John Lewis calls “good trouble“. Now that’s a rally cry I can believe in.

creativity

Wonder: Embracing the wisdom of the Muppets

“You see, life is a very special kind of thing, not just for a chosen few. But for each and every living breathing thing. Not just me and you…Say a prayer for the wind, and the water, and the wood, and those who live there, too.” ~Alfie as told by John Denver and The Muppets

Over the last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time reading and writing. All my life, words (mine and those of others) have helped me through difficult circumstances. Yesterday, I looked to the potent words of one of my favorite set of philosophers, The Muppets. I usually wait until closer to Christmas time to post this poem, but after the week we’ve had I think we need it now. I certainly do. Though I don’t celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas, I do very much hold to the spirit of the season, and its ideals, hope, and light. (And I of course support my friends who do believe in its religious significance.) The poem below tells the story of Alfie, a tree, who by all accounts is one of the most thoughtful beings and who has a particular penchant for believing in the rights of all living things. I hope it brings you as much comfort as it brings me.

“Alfie: The Christmas Tree”

Did you ever hear the story of the Christmas Tree
who just didn’t want to change the show?
He liked living in the woods and playing with squirrels, he liked icicles and snow.

He liked wolves and eagles and grizzly bears
and critters and creatures that crawled.
Why bugs were some of his very best friends, spiders and ants and all.

Now that’s not to say that he ever looked down on the vision of twinkling lights,
or on mirrored bubbles and peppermint canes and a thousand other delights.
And he often had dreams of tiny reindeer
and a jolly old man and a sleigh full of toys and presents and wonderful things,
and the story of Christmas Day.

Oh, Alfie believed in Christmas all right, he was full of Christmas cheer.
All of each and every day and all throughout the year.

To him it was more than a special time much more than a special day,
It was more than a beautiful story. It was a special kind of way.

You see, some folks have never heard a jingle bell ring,
And they’ve never heard of Santa Claus.
They’ve never heard the story of the Son of God. And that made Alfie pause.

Did that mean that they’d never know of peace on earth
or the brotherhood of man?
Or know how to love, or know how to give? If they can’t, no one can.
You see, life is a very special kind of thing, not just for a chosen few.
But for each and every living breathing thing. Not just me and you.

So in your Christmas prayers this year, Alfie asked me if I’d ask you
to say a prayer for the wind, and the water, and the wood,
and those who live there, too.

creativity

Wonder: Into the belly of the beast

As someone who has had both primary and secondary PTSD, I am well-acquainted with the intensity of the fight or flight response. I have been under the thumb of narcissists more times than I care to remember. I understand the impulse to run. Goodness knows I’ve done my fair share of running (like hell, might I add) to seek safety. Last night I had a little (okay, enormous) breakdown. My impulse in that moment was to run, anywhere really, and never look back.

My therapist, Brian, and I worked on this impulse for many years. We still work on it. (Sorry, Brian.) Sometimes running as far and fast and right now is the right thing to do. I’m going to go out on a limb and say most of the time I think running is the best option. (Or at least is has been for me.) And sometimes, every once in a very great while, there is nowhere to run. Brian taught me in these instances that we have to fight, and fight, and fight, and never give up on the ideals we believe in. He was the first to explain to me that my fierce sense of justice is a wonderful thing. And that it’s also an enormous pain in the ass because there will be some things, like narcissism, that I cannot help but stamp out until they are gone so that no one else will ever have to be subjected to them.

I write to you now from the belly of the beast, a meer mile from the Capitol building, less than two miles from the White House. And the belly of the beast is where the battles are fought and where the wars are won. If we are to stamp out injustice in our beautiful country and for all of the people who call it home, then it must be done here at the root. And here I am so it’s time to suit up and soldier on.

The opportunity is here. The time is now. And there are people who are counting on all of us to stand with them in solidarity and support. Failing them would mean failing everyone. Their future is our future. Their rights are everyone’s rights and everyone’s responsibility. Mine. Yours. And theirs. No matter what these four years hold, I’m going to be just fine in every respect because I grew up poor and scrappy and hungry and uncertain. I know how to live on next to nothing because I’ve been doing that for most of my life. It is now my job, and my honor, to stand up for others who are not as fortunate as I am now (I know their pain all too well) and who will be so grossly impacted by what’s ahead.

And I will. I can’t do anything but. If I ran now, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself anyway, anywhere, so best to take a deep breath, have a big glass of water (hydration’s important, people), and do the tough work of making sure that this atrocity never happens again.

creativity

Wonder: My pledge to you

Make no mistake – the American people spoke and elected Hillary Clinton by a full percentage point. The electoral college silenced that choice. This both helps and hurts. It helps me to know that we were the majority. That motivates me even more to keep fighting for a better world for all people. And fight, I will. It’s horrendously painful to know that our system prevented that wish of the majority from being carried out. I don’t need to remind you about the 2000 election and what followed for 8 years after that when the candidate who won the popular vote was defeated by the electoral college. I pray that we won’t the atrocities of those years repeated though I have a sinking feeling that we are in for far worse.

I sobbed when I got home from work yesterday. I was flooded with grief. I am under no illusion that this four years stands to hold some of this country’s darkest hours.

And here is my pledge to you: I will be here, standing up for the rights of all people for all races, religions, ages, orientations, and countries of origin. I will not allow anyone to shame me, mock me, or tell me that I am less-than because of who I am and what I believe in. I am prepared to go to rallies, demonstrations, and protests to fight for the dignity and respect of all people. I am prepared to use my writing, my words, my money, and my time to rise, and rise, and rise, and bring others with me. Though we may feel lonely now, we are not alone. We do have each other, and together, we are strong and capable of defending and protecting one another from any force that seeks to deny us our rights.

creativity

Wonder: How I’m feeling this morning

To say that I am sad, disillusioned, and disappointed is an understatement. And here is something I won’t be: silent. I will raise my voice louder, clearer, and stronger than ever because now it counts more than ever. I am sick and I am tired of sexism, racism, bigotry, crudeness, narcissism, disrespect, and this fundamental belief that somehow dedication and experience isn’t important when it comes to government. If the new administration and its supporters think that for one second I will quietly live in a world of their design, they are in for a very rude awakening. Most of those states were won by very narrow margins which means that there are an awful lot of people who believe what I believe and the only way I’m going to find them is to call out in as loud, determined, and tenacious a voice as I have.

I believe in democracy. I believe in the people’s right to select its political leaders. I believe in our institutions. What I don’t believe in is change for change sake with no modifiers or qualifiers to tell us exactly what kind of change we’re getting. The markets are tumbling, and my great fear is that the rights of women as well as racial, ethnic, and religious minorities will follow. These 4 years could be the worst in our history, though I can’t in good conscience stand idly by. And I won’t.

Under the anger and disbelief, I am hopeful. Not hopeful about the abilities and intentions of the new administration, but hopeful about ours. I don’t need healing. I’m already healed. This election didn’t break me down. It made me tougher. What’s needed now is action, and I’m going to put my energy into building a better world and a better country that aligns with my vision of fairness, kindness, love, a strong work ethic, opportunity, compassion, and empathy. You with me?

creativity

Wonder: Breaking Bread Podcast with Food & Friends

If you’re election weary, here’s my uplifting podcast episode featuring Food & Friends, one of my favorite organizations in D.C. Please feel free to spread this good news far and wide! Food & Friends provides one million specialized nutritious meals a year in the greater D.C. area to individuals and families who are undergoing treatment for HIV / AIDS and cancer, and those who are in hospice care. It’s a mission I’m proud to support as a volunteer and as a donor. This year I’m spending Thanksgiving volunteering at Food & Friends to send out 600 prepared Thanksgiving dinners to help their clients celebrate this wonderful holiday. 

To learn more about Food & Friends and how you can support this incredible work, visit their website at foodandfriends.org.

creativity

Wonder: Once an entrepreneur…

As much as the security of a full-time job is comforting and the angst of being an entrepreneur is anything but, I’ve begun to think about striking out on my own again. This next leap is likely at least a year away as I start small, test ideas, ask for feedback, and develop a solid plan. I just know in my gut that I’m meant to do my own thing, to use opportunity to its full advantage where and when and how I see it, not how it’s defined by others. I’m only at the very, very early stages of this process and the lessons (tough and otherwise) of my last independent venture are looming large in my mind, and I plan to take all that wisdom and reinvest it in this new venture.

Last week I went to the U.S. News & World Report Healthcare of Tomorrow conference here in D.C. and I left every panel inspired, energized, and hopeful. There is such an immense amount of innovation happening and we are just beginning a new era of medicine in which we’re literally outpacing science fiction. From genomic and precision medicine, to transplants and prosthetics, to life-saving nanotechnologies and artificial intelligence paired with human creativity, there is so much possibility. I want to do my part to usher that possibility into reality.

I’m just now floating early ideas by some trusted people who aren’t shy with their critique and also unfailingly supportive of my dreams. It is a fine line to walk and they do that with grace and intelligence. I can see the future now, out there on the horizon, and I’m taking steps toward it every day. Like all things, it’s a journey and just knowing where I’m going has given me a lot of peace in the pursuit of the next adventure.