Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Queue of Concern

I am a fan of the Answer Me This podcast - very British, random, and hilarious. For example, the list of topics for the most recent episode is: Escape to the Country (a TV show), International Men's Day, Areas of Outstanding Beauty, legal drinking age, peacocks, hamsters, Bullet Journals/Pomodoro Technique/a life of productivity vs Filofax and where to hang sexy paintings of yourself.

The discussion on productivity planners brought up the term "Queue of Concern." Helen defines it as the 3-5 things you need to get done (what an Air Force boss of mine referred to as "close in fires"). Everything else is just left for later, only to be cataloged when it enters the Queue of Concern. 


There is always so much going on that needs my attention. Obligations of my own doing, granted, but crowding (and clouding) my brain. It sometimes seems never ending :-) but using the Queue of Concern ratchets down the worry. It seems like a better solution that micro-scheduling. Ugh. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The International Language of Niceness

Picture if you will an old school luggage cart, filled with 9 very large suitcases, accompanied by 12 people, two bicycles, a ukulele, and many other carry on bags, rolling up to the luggage check in desk at Washington's Union Station. Only 4 individuals are actually holding tickets for the train. It was at this point that we learned that luggage checked on trains has the same weight limit as luggage checked on airplanes - 50 pounds - and not one single piece of luggage was under 50 pounds.

Enter our hero, Tony, the porter struggling with the huge stack of very heavy suitcases, who literally saved the day. The 4 train ticket holders are members of the refugee family my church has been sponsoring for the last 2 years. Living in the suburbs of expensive Washington DC was not going to be a long term option for their financial independence, so 4 members of the family of 7 were moving. There is support of a welcoming immigrant community in the midwest that really would be a better fit. Left behind would be the 3 adult children of the family, all on their own path to independence (but emotions were high none the less).

This was not Tony's first rodeo, and he knew the train luggage rules far better than the staff at the desk was willing to devulge. Their "It's too heavy, we won't take it" was met with Tony's save the day enthusiasm to help this family. Did you know that you can buy boxes from Amtrak for $5 and check them, paying a nominal extra bag fee (far less than postage)? Tony did. So a few pounds were removed from each bag so we could get most bags checked. In the frenzy of repacking we managed to pack Tony's own jacket into one of the boxes. It was rescued just in the nick of time, phew!

I am not sure how plugged in Tony was to the group dynamics, but he figured out that my friend needed to get this family on the train, so he took his cues from her. I could tell Tony knew that the family was in the midst of something major, and were struggling with the process. But Tony spoke the international language of niceness. "Come with me, I'll get you early boarding," he said, as he whisked all of us - ticketed, unticketed, bicycles and ukulele - right out on to the platform. The conductor was NONE TOO PLEASED ("Who has tickets! Who has tickets!" he kept yelling) but Tony affably got everyone settled on board and then kindly whisked the rest of us back out to the waiting area.

I have been thinking about Tony and the chaos that we brought to his day ever since, because he made it So. Much. Better. He spoke the international language of niceness, something we can all appreciate.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

This Makes Me SOOOOO Happy

Have you heard about this amazing gymnastics routine? Beyond awesome. I've watched it a bunch of times because I love the joy Katelyn Ohashi shows, and how it lights up her teammates and everyone around her...

Watch it 4 or 5 times and try to to not smile - impossible. This great article by Jason Gay in the January 18 Wall Street Journal nails why.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Women in Combat: The Same Tired Argument

(Iraq, 2008)

An editorial in January 16th's Wall Street Journal (Women Don't Belong in Combat Units) brought up one of the usual arguments against women in combat units:

Women are distracting and cause behavior problems in forward deployed units.


The old "women are distracting" argument to limit women in combat I have heard many times and I find it particularly tiresome. Put another way...we don't think men can behave, so we'll remove temptation? Does this mean all-male units are perfectly well behaved and not a single Article 15 or other formal punishment has been given within a combat unit until women arrived on the scene? 

It's a lazy, "it's too hard" argument. The thing is, no one ever said that leading and managing a fully integrated and diverse organization was easy. But in my experience it's worth it, because a team made up of diverse capabilities is stronger.

It makes me sad that the author of the editorial, who has spent no time what so ever in the military herself, holds these opinions without appearing to get any kind of perspective from women who have served. It's so easy saying you know better when you haven't spent any time in combat boots. 

(316 EOSS, April and August 2008, Iraq)

Monday, January 7, 2019

New Year, Still the Same Vintage

A year ago, I declared that I would do some fun stuff in 2018, since I was turning 50. It's a number that you have to take a tiny bit seriously, just a bit, because it's a serious amount of time. But the last thing I want to do is be serious - serious sounds stodgy, set in my ways, and no fun at all. So I put it out there is this post that I had some stuff to do to make sure I wasn't falling in to any kind of rut, or sitting on the sidelines. Let's see how I did:

50 things to do when I turn 50
Sky dive (with my daughter after she turns 18) - check!

Long board - I put it on my Christmas list...

Learn to knit socks - started, not finished

Surf - attempted, not mastered :-)

Make Pad Thai at home - tried, but I still like the what the pros make best

Make croissants at home - did this over Christmas 2018 - here's the recipe

Take a digital photography class - didn't get to this

Finish my book - not even close, but I took some wonderful classes, and have an 
awesome writing group of talented ladies that are helping me stay on track.

Make tortillas from scratch - didn't get to this.

Make macrons - did get to this - yummmmmm - try this recipe here

Go to the opera - went with a good friend to see Silent Night at the Kennedy Center.  
Highly recommend a pre-theater drink next door at the Kingbird restaurant at the Watergate.

See something at Signature Theater - saw Billy Elliott with my son's theater buddies.

See something at Arena Stage - saw Dave - great fun!

Go to an old school rock concert - Pink! was awesome. Also got to see T-Swift thanks to VetTix.

Enter a bike race - oops.

Do another triathlon - didn't work out for me this year, but plan to do one as a team in August.

Go on the mission trip to Haiti (left this week a year ago) (it was awesome!!)

So what's up for 2019? Lots more adventure I hope! New leadership challenges for sure (more on that soon) and more opportunities to learn and grow. 

Thanks to everyone for supporting my blog, it means so much!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

You Don't Have to Be a Morning Person

When you feel like your to-do list is long and sleep is already short, hearing advice like this, "Just get up earlier!" can elicit the same response JK Rowling had. Despite attempts now and again to get the day started earlier, I just can't. If it's required for work, or family, or most importantly to catch an early flight to somewhere fun, I can do it. But willingly and habitually? Not ever.

Take comfort my non-morning-person friends! As this great article in Quartz at Work states, "It's worth remembering that these hacks are correlational. People don't become successful because they rise at 4 am. They achieve because they do the work."

Monday, November 26, 2018

On Traditions and Flexibility

So I might be doing a little "light" cyber Monday shopping, trying to fill some holes in my Christmas shopping list. On the side I am texting a volunteer battle buddy (it's a thing, I just made it up) to see if we can chat soon, am remembering I better reconfirm with the dog walker, and am wondering if my son has long johns for a sure-to-be-cold weekend camp out. My poor son, our morning drive to school included me telling him the days he needs to find himself a ride home from after school rehearsals. He's amazing though, and rolls with it.

My next two weeks will be pretty busy, including some fun travel, but it's a pretty full schedule, even for me. I know that things will get dropped, and good intentions will go awry. Of course, like most of you, you want it all to go right, right? Same goes for all the holiday stuff - traditions you love (the traditional post date on my Christmas cards is February) and things you have to do (hello, social obligations like work parties :-)) and things you want to do (baking with all the butter) (or is that just me?). As usual, a fave woman seems to post just what I want to hear :-)


Shout out to all the moms who buy a new Christmas ornament for every kid that matches something from that year and who just ordered three per kid for the last three years you forgot. Ben, my freshman, will hang for the first time his "new" ornament that says "7th Grade Rocks." . Listen, I mean to be precious about Christmas traditions but there are just a lot of people who live here. . Related: attempting to be heroes, Brandon and I planned a whole ski trip with our family before Christmas, checked the college kids' schedules to make sure they were free, and booked it all: the flights, the house, the equipment, the lift tickets. Told our kids and awaited our raucous applause at which point Remy said: . "THAT IS OUR WHOLE LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL." . The others: . "THAT IS FINALS WEEK!" "I WON'T BE EXEMPT ANYMORE!" "I CAN'T HAVE ANY MORE ABSENCES!" "YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE US FAIL!" . So this Christmas season is going great. Thanks for asking. Parenting is easy. EXCUSE US for not checking all five of your school schedules. We are not calendar experts.
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