Categories
Inside My Head Libby

Snow Bound

Last week, the Washington, DC area got rocked by a blizzard. There was a lot of hype and hullabaloo preceding the “snow event,” but it was warranted – the area got hit with anywhere from 20 – 36 inches of snow. CRAZY. And it was crazy – everything was shut down: Metro, the federal government, fast food establishments. Here are some observations:

  1. Nature is something. Watching the entire blizzard process was incredible – the snow, the wind, a fox that was running around in the front yard trying to figure out where to go…amazing. To see how the snow accumulated, especially waking up in the morning and the landscape and totally changed, was remarkable. Being blinded by the sun sparkling on the snow and seeing the trees decorated as if in a Macy’s Christmas window makes me happy. Nature!
  2. “A sweater is something you have to wear when your mother feels cold.” I think this is a Nora Ephron quote, or maybe Oscar Wilde (thanks a lot, internet…) and it has been hammered home these past several days while cabin-fevered up with my seven-year-old son. “Put some socks on!” “Mom, my feet are hot!” I think it’s too cold to go outside, and he is outside tunneling through snow for hours. To me, snow means we can’t go anywhere, to him it means he doesn’t have to go anywhere [school]! As usual, it is all about perspective. Which also reminds me that I am ridiculously thankful I am “imprisoned” in a warm house with plenty of food, cable and internet.
  3. The Martian is inspirational. If you haven’t seen it yet, it really is impressive – although ridiculously suspenseful (I had to make my parents tell me the ending halfway through because I couldn’t take it). If you think “surviving” the blizzard is tough, try being abandoned on Mars. It made me realize how impressive our meteorologists are, that they used science to predict all of what would happen and prepared us well, probably saving many lives. Best takeaway from the movie is to find ways to “science the shit out of” life’s challenges. Not sure that will get me more half-n-half for this morning’s coffee, but it is definitely a way to look at other obstacles in my life moving forward. (My science-brained husband may be more useful than I thought!)
  4. Jack Daniels knows how to make friends. When it was finally over, my dad and I were out shoveling the driveway making incremental headway. A neighbor down the street used his snowblower to clear the sidewalk all the way to our house. Dad went inside and got the bottle of Jack to help warm the guy up and say thank you – next thing I know, there are four other neighbors hanging out, drinking and shooting the breeze. I didn’t even know there were that many people in the neighborhood!
  5. Family. Because we were worried about losing power, I left my husband holding down the home front and went to my parents’ house where they rarely lose power (thank you, underground power lines!). My worries were not realized (phew) but I knew my husband would be okay, while if we had stayed, I would have worried about my parents and about my son. And everyone else in the family was worried about all of us here – phone calls were coming in from Ukraine, Buffalo, Boston and Scotland to check on us. It was nice to know so many people care about us, but being apart from loved ones is the biggest challenge of the whole endeavor. Stay warm, safe and snuggled if you can!

– Libby Bingham

Categories
Career Libby

What’s Next?

It’s a new year, and with that comes all kinds of interesting newness: new resolutions, new sweaters, new opportunities. But with newness also comes change, and change is scary. Yes, it’s exciting; yes, I should embrace it, but man, it’s scary.

It is possible that within the next month or so, my life will be very different than it is now. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Part of me is dreading it – I have routines and things that I do and don’t do – I like it. But I’m also ready for more – changes at work, changes of those routines that I love, changes in my family dynamic.

But what if it all goes south? What if the changes are “worse” and my new routines are rote rather than reassuring? What is my obligation to this change? Do I have to like it? How long do I have to adjust to the change?

So, here’s the thing…I’m not sure I have a choice: I am not affecting change in my life, change is happening to me. So what’s the difference?

The difference is that I have to step up – I have to meet the change head on and make it work for me the best I can. It means more work on my end and it also means more unforeseen factors for which I can’t prepare. It also means that it is extra exciting – nerve-wracking, in fact – and that the rewards may be even greater than they would be if I had chosen a path myself.

As I tell my son, the only thing you can control is your attitude: you need to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in or all you’ll have is a bad experience. So I’m embracing this change. I will race towards it hoping to catch it off-balance and have it fall into my arms, out-of-breath and grateful. I will make it work for me.

Wish me luck.

– Libby Bingham

 

 

 

Categories
Ashley Karen Libby Melissa New Friends

We’re Not Very Good at Selfies

Last night, I had a celebratory thank you dinner with most of our amazing bloggers. Libby, Ashley and Melissa joined me for an evening full of stories, laughs and advice over delicious eats and wine. Sadly, Karen wasn’t able to join us since a cross-country flight seemed a bit excessive for dinner, though we hope to all be together sometime soon.

I adore these women, and I wanted to take just a moment to thank them for sharing their time, insights and wisdom with our Good for the Soul Creative Community. They each bring diverse points of view, unique experiences and a worldview that is wholly their own. Yet, in all this, I believe they share a common core. Melissa, Ashley, Libby and Karen each approach the world with enthusiasm and a genuine interest in getting to know those around them. They want to understand their friends, family and colleagues and know what’s important to them. They want to be there to celebrate accomplishments and provide support when things go sideways. And they’re generous with their thoughts, which is incredibly valuable. They share what’s happening in their heads, which makes it each to connect with them and make it safe to share your own thoughts. I’m incredibly lucky to have them all in my life, and I value them tremendously.

And while we’re impressively good at some things, selfies clearly isn’t one of those things (I’ll take all the blame for this one). But we’re good at appreciating great company and that’s the most important thing. Thank you to these women for sharing themselves and thank you for sharing in this journey with us.

IMG_1549
Melissa, Catherine, Ashley and Libby (and Karen in spirit!)
Categories
Awesomeness in the World Libby

Coming of Age

Last week I had dinner with some women I’ve been friends with since junior high…I won’t tell you how many years that’s been, but suffice it to say, we’ve been adults for a long, long time. Somehow, it doesn’t feel like it, both in good ways and in bad. Here are some things that I observed during the course of two pitchers of Sangria:

  1. “I’m a needy person.” My friend told me that just recently she came to the realization that she’s a needy person; she was also slightly annoyed that I had never told her this. I reminded her that as youngsters, we constantly discussed her penchant for crying and her need to be the center of attention. I figured that would make her cry, but instead she said, “Oh, right…duh!”
  2. I’m like the glue? As I was growing up, I always felt a little on the fringes of our group, a part yet apart. My other friend said she found that very interesting as she had always thought of me as “the glue that held everyone together.” What a surprise! I wonder if she had shared that observation with me in 7th grade whether or not I would have truly felt more confident.
  3. Beware the mocking. With the cancellation of another, my third friend was relieved to have avoided some mocking for her lack of fashion sense. To me, it always seemed relatively harmless, but through some story sharing I got a better picture of her life as the 6th of 7 children with not a lot of money to waste. They were all encouraged to become runners for economical considerations, including even sharing shoes that were repaired with glue. I realized – once again – that things are truly never what they seem.
  4. Can I eat your fruit? Our fifth friend always had the reputation for being a goody-two shoes, but I think it really, truly came down to her being a good person. She is still the same, after marriage, kids, work drama – she has a very positive take on life. Not sure if that comes from her religious beliefs or her core make-up. Either way, she is an amazing person who has the ability to remind us of the good we can do. And she can knock back some Sangria fruit.

I felt there was a sense of relief from all of us in a way: we have always enjoyed each other, but finally, we’re able to let our true and full selves show and still accept each other, maybe more now than ever before. It is a shame that it has taken so many years, but a feeling of comfort and confidence with longtime friends is an incredible gift to have. I hope that I was able contribute to the healing of old wounds, and offer support to them all in ways they need it. I look forward to years of continued fun and warmth with these friends…happy holidays to us, and to you and all the people you’re in touch with!

– Libby Bingham

Categories
Libby On the Job

But What if I Don’t Like Turkey?

Happy post-Thanksgiving food coma regards! I had a lovely weekend with family, fun and food, and I hope you did, too. We spent Thanksgiving with my in-laws and it was a turkey-free environment – Grandpa prefers duck and since he’s hosting… It was actually delicious and I got a turkey fix on Saturday when we got back, but it got me thinking…what if you don’t like turkey?! How does that affect a certain fowl focused feasting holiday? What if you’re a vegetarian or just prefer a four-footed entrée?

Families look very different than they did years ago – they are no longer the two parent, 2.5 kid paradigm, so maybe the traditions that feature them are in transition as well. Maybe it’s possible to have a bonding experience full of gratitude over a ham or a brussel sprout casserole…why not? It’s about recognizing things for which you are thankful and spending time with people who are important to you – why should a bird who didn’t make the cut for our national symbol have to be the focal point for a holiday celebrating the saving of a bunch of buckle-wearing runaways by native people we thanked by giving them smallpox?

All of this is to ask…what’s your work turkey? Is there a project, program or person that is the focus of your organizational energy and it’s no longer working? Maybe your work family makeup has changed – new staff, new members or new clients – and you need a new focal main course for your efforts and energies. Don’t let tradition color your ability to make forward progress – ensure a meaningful family gathering by changing things up with a pork roast or baked lasagna, or try a new marketing tactic or educational delivery system – your Uncle Jerry will appreciate it. But no matter what you serve, don’t forget to say thank you.

– Libby Bingham

Categories
Career Libby Uncategorized

Mindset and Success

My son, who is in second grade, is going to be taking some tests in the next few months; the results will determine whether or not he is eligible to be in a gifted and talented program moving forward. It’s a tremendous opportunity if he gets in, and my husband and I want him to be prepared, but he already is feeling a lot of pressure to succeed. We are trying really hard to put it all in perspective. We’re looking for practice examples so that the types of questions are familiar to him when he takes the test – not to “hothouse” him, but so that he’ll have less anxiety. In looking for those, my husband found a Ted Talk by Eduardo Briceño that expounds on the power of “mindset.” According to Briceño, people fall into one of two categories: fixed mindset or growth mindset. Apparently, if you have a growth mindset, you are better able to deal with losing/failing – you can turn it into a learning event and actually grow and get smarter.

We’re hoping to diffuse the pressure my son is putting on himself to do well by sharing this idea with him. In reviewing it and anticipating our conversation, it occurs to me that I could benefit from a deeper understanding of these concepts myself. In a recent post I talked about how I’m nervous about taking on some new areas at work and how this both frightens and excites me. I have always been a pretty high-achiever in life, but every time I am given a new skill to build or experience to try, I am rife with self-doubt. From a very young age, I have thought of myself as “unable to do math” – this is clearly an example of the “fixed” mindset. My opportunity to work on some new projects in areas less familiar to me is a chance for me to embrace the “growth” mindset. It isn’t fair for me to promote this to my kid without believing it myself. So, I am going to embrace it with abandon…and who knows? If it goes well, there could be a career in the mathematical arts in my future!

– Libby Bingham

Categories
Inside My Head Libby

Seasonal Change

It has been a beautiful autumn in the Washington, DC area. The weather is cool, but mild; the trees are a riot of red, yellow and orange. One thing I’m always inspired to do when the weather changes is to attempt to “get it together.”

This is naming a very ambiguous, yet permeating feeling which compels me to change along with the weather. Here’s what has taken place so far:

  1. Hair: I always get my hair cut when the seasons change – not always something drastic, but enough to signify that something has changed. Even if you’re not feeling like it, it’s helpful to look like you’re put together!
  2. Wardrobe: Unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe every season, but I like to go through what I have, give stuff away that I’ve lost interest in, try on things I haven’t worn in a while or rediscover things I’ve forgotten about. I am also lucky because I have friends who do the same thing, and what may be old to someone else could be new and exciting to you!
  3. Exercise: Honestly, my desire for change when it comes to exercise is a daily battle, but when the weather changes, it really hits home. Since things have been mild here, I have been trying to do more outdoor activities (walking, biking) but it’s also a time to reassess your diet and overall health – go ahead and make that doctor appointment you’ve been putting off!
  4. Work: As the leaves change colors, it is an excellent opportunity to update your resume. Not because you’re going to go off and get a new job, but it’s not a bad idea to keep your skills fresh and review your accomplishments.
  5. Home: Staying organized is good for your mental health – if you use seasonal changes as a reminder to tidy up clutter, do a big shop or rearrange your linen closet, you will feel more in control of your life as you move speedily along.

– Libby Bingham

Categories
Book Reports Libby

Lean In: Part II

So, I am even later to the party than Catherine…I just finished Lean In. I really didn’t want to read it – I have a thing about doing stuff that everyone’s doing (what’s the opposite of trend-setter?), so I really resisted. But Catherine lent it to me so I kind of felt obligated. 🙂

I don’t know if it was because I was all primed after attending my weekend leadership conference, but that book lives up to the hype. Well-written, poignant and inspiring, I plowed through it, recognizing all the mistakes I’ve made over the years. But I also was excited to have someone put (articulate and intelligent) words to thoughts I’ve had for such a long time. There were so many things that resonated with me, but one in particular was how she talked about the myth of having it all.

Earlier this weekend, I attended a night out with some moms and I caught myself saying, “I do nothing well.” How is that helpful? Who am I competing with? Why do I do that to myself? I have made choices in my life that now have me working both in and out of the home – my part-time status allows me to bring home a few pieces of bacon, fry them up in a small pan and pay lots of attention to my two men (the big one and the little one). It’s an ideal situation for our family, as well as a way for me to have intellectual challenges and adult conversations. No matter what, though, I know there is always someone doing some aspect of what I do way better. But what I realize is that they are also probably falling short in some aspect, at least in their own minds.

Sandberg reminds us to be kind to ourselves and each other; we should also be supportive of each other whenever possible. This is not a competition, ladies! We all do what we have to do. Think about how much further we’d get if we could all not only lean in, but also lean on each other…

– Libby Bingham

Categories
Inside My Head Libby

Believe in Your Damn Self

Last weekend I attended a leadership program designed to get women focusing on their dreams, feeling empowered and moving forward. While the target age demographic was well below my own, the energy was timeless. I was truly amazed at the drive and passion so many of these women exhibited – education, entrepreneurial spirit, fighting for equal pay, saying yes to both the personal and professional loves of their lives…wow. I am in mourning for my younger self and what I (maybe, I am quite lazy sometimes…) could have accomplished. Moving on…

Another impressive thing was their lack of fear – I’m not saying that they aren’t worried or feel some trepidation about doing something new, but they’re also comfortable with trying. They know that it might not work out, but they’re still going to make a go at it. And if it doesn’t work out? They’ll try something else – they know this isn’t their last shot, their only opportunity. How do they know? Because they’re making their own opportunities – they’re not waiting for something to happen to them, they are making it happen for them.

Last week on Project Runway, (spoiler alert!!) Laurie Underwood, 29, owner of design label Wanda Grace, was kicked off. Did she cry? No! Was she angry and bitter? No! Did she tell all the other contestants/friends not to cry for her? Yes! This was her final monologue as she cleaned up her workspace and turned out the light…

“This isn’t the end for me because I believe in my damn self. This does not stop my shine. There are other spotlights for Laurie Underwood…to be in and she will be there. I’m still writing my story and the best part is yet to come.”

Amazing. This is the attitude we should all strive for – to try new things that we think will make us happy. And if it doesn’t work out, we should chalk it up to experience, pick ourselves up and move on. Hell to the yes, Laurie Underwood and all you other ladies out there getting bossed up and finding your way!

– Libby Bingham

Categories
Libby On the Job

Planning

At my office, we are in the midst of our annual planning. This may be annoying to some, but I find this exercise kind of fun! Here are my top five reasons I love planning:

  1. It’s an opportunity to review what’s been accomplished both individually and collectively. This is an important exercise as it reminds you of what you’re capable of on your own and as a team – some back-patting is something we all can benefit from now and again!
  2. It’s paid time to dream about fun things that you might be able to do in the future.
  3. Having a plan at work can allow you to plan in your personal life, too – now that you have an idea of what you’ll be doing when, you have a general idea of how much time each project will take and when your busy times in the office will be. This allows you to figure out when the best time to take vacation, go on that professional development retreat or volunteer at your child’s school. You can keep the stress level on an even keel all year long!
  4. Planning is a chance to evaluate your resources and articulate reasons for why you’re doing what you’re doing…and what you’re NOT doing. A blueprint is a great thing to go back to at review time, too!
  5. You get a year-long worthy to-do list…check, check, check!!

So, what’s your plan??

– Libby Bingham