Have you ever had a dream day? What happened? Who were you with? What lasting effect did it have on you?
I had one of my dream days yesterday and it was magical:
To write, to research, to tell stories, to collaborate with others on creative projects, and to spend time with people who are central to my life. That is the perfect day for me.
“Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.” ~Anonymous
This may just be the secret to a happier, more joyful life. I love those people who lift us up just by their presence, who make us feel more alive, more hopeful, and more empowered to build a better world.
Today was an upside down, turned around kind of day. Today I can say that I lived. Really lived.
My pup, Phin, happily played at daycare for 12 hours while I: ran about a dozen errands, set up his gate and noise dampening curtain, and had two very solid job interviews where I spoke my truth and it was appreciated. A sweet, cuddly, adorable 10-day-old baby slept on me for 2 1/2 hours. A dear old friend needed a shoulder and an ear, and I gladly and gratefully offered mine. And I lost a friend today whom I had not seen in a long time but will remember as someone who was always focused on how others were doing. She was whip-smart, incredibly capable, and never afraid to speak her mind. I admired her for all of that, and she will be missed.
Today had incredible highs and incredible lows. Moments of activity. Moments of calm. I am trying hard to remember that life will flow if we let it, for better or for worse, through difficulty and ease, through discomfort and freedom, if we believe that it can. I wish you a day full of life, and all that it brings.
Sometimes the best we can do is just show up. For our friends and for ourselves. People go through tough times. They need support and help. And we do, too. I’ve been talking to quite a few people lately who are dealing with a lot of difficulty. I wish I had answers for them. Actually, I wish I could just make the difficulties disappear. I try. I listen, and I try to come up with creative solutions. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m learning that the solutions aren’t the important part. What matters is that I show up, that I keep showing up. And if that’s all you do, too, that’s enough. It’s so much more than enough.
“Isn’t that the point? To apply what we know and what we’ve done in new ways?”
This is what I said to a friend of mine over the weekend. She’s interviewing for a new job that leverages a lot of her skills and interests. It’s a brand new industry for her, and she was feeling nervous for the interview as a result. Look, friends, if we aren’t taking risks, trying new things, and learning, then what is the point? Adaptation is the cornerstone of life, literally and figuratively. The world is changing so fast—in 5-10 years we’ll likely be working in industries and roles that don’t even exist yet. The best we can do is work hard, learn, and be good to other people as we go. Truly. Don’t be afraid of applying your talents in new ways; just do it. It’s what we’re all going to have to do.
I spent the weekend happily disconnected from devices and reunited with my Darden MBA class to celebrate our 10-year graduation milestone. I went to reunion to be with friends far and near, and to revisit a place where I learned that anything is possible when we combine passion, purpose, and persistence. At Darden, I learned how to stand strong in my beliefs while balancing conviction and openness to new ideas and perspectives. It remains the greatest investment of my life, not only for the skills I gained and the knowledge I attained from my brilliant classmates and professors, but even more so for the deep friendships I found there. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and only grows more valuable with time. I loved seeing and hugging all of you, and am already looking forward to the next time we’re all together again. Until then, know that I’m rooting for all of you to live your happiest, most beautiful lives. The best is yet to come.
A week from now, I’ll be in Charlottesville at my 10th reunion with my dear Darden MBA friends. Those two years were joyful and difficult. They were filled with learning and challenges and triumphs. I was sometimes disappointed and sometimes elated. I failed and succeeded in equal amounts. I worked my tail off every single day. And the greatest thing I received there was not a degree but the amazing relationships I formed. We started that journey as classmates, students, professors, and staff members. Two years later, we were friends. And that is priceless. Can’t wait to give all of you a hug in a week!
“Enlightenment is that moment when a wave realizes it is the ocean.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
We have more options than we think we do. I had two great back-to-back conversations yesterday that helped me realize just how many possibilities are open to me and how to bring them to fruition. It was one of the most empowering and hopeful afternoons I’ve had in a long time. Those conversations didn’t change any of my circumstances; they just helped me see things in a different way. They changed my mind and my perspective; in other words, they changed everything.
There are two kinds of happiness: the one that comes from instant gratification and the one that comes from the slow slog toward a desired goal. The first makes us happy in the here and now, but it usually doesn’t last long. The second makes us happy when viewed through the arc of life but in the here and now can be difficult and uncomfortable. I’ve found that I need a good balance of both to truly feel good about life.
Art, music, good food, time with my friends, my dog, and working out are all things that make me immediately happy. Writing, working on my entrepreneurial ideas, and learning something new that I’m not yet particularly good at fall into that second bucket. It’s not that I don’t get any joy from them in the near-term; it’s just that to feel truly happy about them I need to look at them through a longer lens and with a goal in mind.
Knowing about this balance helps me figure out how to allocate my time, effort, and energy to be happy at this moment and to ensure I’m happy down the line, too.
“You deserve to be in spaces and relationships that make you happy; that feed your soul and help you grow.” ~Alex Elle
This Valentine’s Day, I hope that this feeling of love and respect for yourself shines through in all of your activities, all of your relationships, and all of your choices. I hope you find work that inspires you, a home that is filled with warmth and comfort, and relationships, be they platonic or romantic, that make you feel alive. I hope every day you have many moments of gratitude, and that you find a way to share your good fortune with others. I hope you find an energetic peace in your purpose, and that this purpose helps you wake up to the miracles, great and small, that surround us and are within us. And if there comes a time when things look lost, or sad, or hopeless, I hope you know that there are people who care and people who will help. I’m one of them.
Happy Valentine’s Day!