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being an introvert

being an introvert, letters, Tim

For Claudia

Recently, Tim left his old work home for a new work home.  This new adventure has proven to be a great fit, all the details lining up for him professionally and personally.  All four of us are pinching ourselves daily at how well the transition has gone.  I’m not going to lie though, both Tim and I are still a little anxious, waiting for some unforeseen ball to drop.  Pessimism is alive and well in the Pell Household, but we are furiously trying to push it out the door so we can enjoy this new ride.

 

Going into this transition, we both knew we would mourn the loss of his old work team.  They have all become family to us.  Initially, they made the first move and graciously ushered all four of us into their lives even though they didn’t have to give us any light of day.  I have a feeling that, in general, this doesn’t happen quite often in the corporate world.  They are still our family, and our love for them hasn’t changed, but we will miss our easy access to all of them.  

 

These team members hail from all over the world.  Costa Rica, India, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Luxembourg, China, Japan and of course, the U.S.  All of them taught us invaluable lessons and we experienced irreplaceable adventures with them.  They gave us a world view and world experience; we will be forever indebted to them for sharing that with us.  Along with us, they watched our boys grow up.  They let them jump and bounce behind them down the cobblestone roads of Luxembourg, Germany and Amsterdam. We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and professional milestones together.  And even though Tim won’t technically be part of the team anymore, all four of us will be cheering them all on from the sidelines.  

 

The awe-inspiring force of nature who leads this whole ragamuffin band of personalities is Claudia.  She is humble and kind and would never brag about herself or self promote.  I wanted to let the whole world know how phenomenal she is, and what better way to do that than post it on the interwebs for the whole world to see.  So, Claudia, here’s to you.

 

Claudia,

 

I’m going to attempt to put into words the gratitude, awe and love I feel for you, so here goes.  It is inevitable, all the words that follow will fall short.  My feelings toward you and what you have done for Tim and our family are too giant to be contained on a page.  But I will try because you deserve to know at least a fraction of how much you have impacted our entire family.

 

From day one you were always more than the “boss.”  You saw Tim, truly saw him, for all his strengths, weaknesses, creativity and potential.  You saw him as more than just an employee or a direct report or even a fellow team member.  You saw more and you brought to light bits and pieces even he couldn’t see.  He could let his sarcastic humor flow freely around and you let him use it to strengthen your team as a whole.  You weren’t afraid to look to him for his people reading skills.  Just like you, he knows how to uncover others’ hidden strengths and develop the potential he sees.  He always looked to you for your calm, confident, steady light.  You weren’t intimidated by him, most people are by the way, and that’s where they get it wrong.  You didn’t mind him being bold and blunt because you are refreshingly the same.  You are confident in yourself and leadership capabilities so you don’t mind if someone excels, you are fueled by it, as a leader should be.  You poured your logical encouragement into him and he flourished under your precise direction.  You didn’t back down when his stubborn streak showed up either; you kept pushing through, reminding him of a better way.

 

Tim always described your leadership style as “minds on, hands off” and that’s what he needed to be motivated and to create and to lead others.  In my opinion, that kind of people management is the best kind.  You made space for new ideas, creative solutions and the innovative systems.  You didn’t care how it got done, just as long as it got done.  You always checked in to see how you could help in case he was stuck, always offering a kind affirmation or gentle suggestion.  You supported him so he could support others. The trickle down effect worked brilliantly.  Through your example you taught him how to be an effective leader.  You encouraged his innovations without any hint of micromanagement.  You weren’t afraid to push him or  gently remind him of areas where he needed to devote more energy.  You weren’t afraid to give feedback to him, or even receive some from him.  Your confidence in yourself, and in him, poured out and colored all your work.  All of his projects have your name watermarked on them.  All along the way, iron sharpened iron, just as both of you needed.

 

While you led him, you simultaneously built trust.  He could always rely on you professionally, knowing you would always be fiercely protective of him and his work.  The mother grizzly has nothing on you.

 

When you saw Tim, you weren’t single minded.  He wasn’t just a corporate peer, you also saw his other life roles.  Your vision included the boys and I, and that meant the world to me. Yes, Tim worked for you, but you valued his time spent as a husband and dad.  You didn’t see those roles as inhibiting his work life, you knew they enhanced it and you welcomed all of us into your life.  When you saw Tim, you also saw our family.  I know that says volumes about Tim, but it also speaks to your stellar character and investment into his personal life.

 

Even though I’m grateful for your confidence in Tim, there may have been one time your faith in him was a bit of an overstep.  At least now we both know he can’t be trusted to drive a large vehicle in a foreign country.  Or I guess we now know to get the maximum insurance policy on rental vans.  On second thought, don’t ever let him drive in Europe again.  I won’t either, I promise.  Also, don’t entrust cowbells into his care, he will ship 145 of them to Germany in his carry-on.

 

Personally, I’m glad I found a kindred spirit who could logically and exactly categorize why we are kindreds through Myers-Briggs letters.  Thank you for introducing me to Susan Cain and sharing in a mutual appreciation for Brene Brown.  Thank you for showing me I’m not the only one who thrives in the stillness.  It’s refreshing to find someone else who is loud in her own quiet.  You showed me that I don’t have to yell to be a strong leader.  Creativity and innovation don’t always need maximum volume.  There is a time and place for the roar, and you don’t shy away from it when necessary, but a clear and quiet voice is heavier.  Thank you for showing me how brave it is to be confidently quiet.  That kind of voice is bold and pierces the soul.  It also makes sure shit. gets. done.  The corporate world, and the world as a whole, needs more voices like yours, never silent, just calmly, courageously leading.

 

While Tim and I appreciate your presence in our life personally, there is something even greater that I haven’t even touched on yet.  Teaching our boys about feminism and raising them to value both men and women equally is very important to us.  You are our tangible example that women can do anything men do.  Because of you, the boys will grow up thinking it’s old hat to have a woman in leadership, in the corporate world, the tech world, in all the world.  They will know that you don’t have to sacrifice your femininity to lead.  Your femininity is a strength, just as your direct and bold communication and your passion for developing people as whole leaders.  Because of you, when they hear the label, “boss”, they won’t automatically picture a man.  Every single day when you walk into work, you are decreasing their unconscious gender bias. Whatever life path and career they choose, they won’t be intimidated, or God forbid, be demeaned, by a boss who happens to be a woman.  They will remember that their dad thrived under your leadership.  Because of you, they will have high standards for any boss, male or female.  They may not fully realize all of this until they grow up, but Tim and I will keep teaching them and reminding them how we need both men and women in every sector of life, equally.  Gender is just a surface detail, character and strength are what matter in a leader.  You have set the bar high, for all four of us.

 

So lately, in the Pell Household, we have been mourning the loss of your constant contact in Tim’s daily work life.  We know it’s not really a loss, just a transition to a new adventure, but it sure feels like an empty hole.  I know Tim will continue to learn from you, but now is the time for him to leave your nest.  You showed him the mechanics of how to fly but now comes the scary part of taking that first step off the ledge.  Because of you and all the skills you’ve molded in him, I know he will soar in this next role.  He always will in every step of his career because you showed him how.

 

It’s also exciting to know that you will continue to develop the leaders already under your care, as well as teach and mold new ones.  Your talent for leading and caring for others needs to keep spreading.  I’m afraid we may have been a bit selfish with you.  If I could have my way, Tim would work for you for the rest of his career, but I know that can’t be.  More people need to see your way; they need to be under your direction.  They need you to push them to the next level.

 

Thank you for being fiercely loyal.  Thank you for not taking any of Tim’s shit.  Thank you for welcoming Luke, Jack and I.  Thank you for showing us beautiful bits and pieces of Germany.  Thank you for not rolling your eyes when our boys threw a horrific, jet lagged tantrum in the Luxembourg airport.  Thank you for being a strong, brave and kind leader.  Thank you, Claudia, from the deepest part of my heart.

Signature

P.S. Thank you for introducing us to “Kaffee and Kuchen.”  Our afternoons will never be the same.

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being an introvert, change, family, friends

No More Apologies

I was chatting with a friend and we were talking about apologizing.  She laughed and said, “We women walk out of the womb saying, ‘I’m sorry.'”  That is so true!  Why is that?  Is it just a female thing?  How do we learn to apologize for everything under the sun?

After mulling this topic over for a few days, I’ve decided to stop apologizing.

Please note: This does NOT count for instances when I am truly in the wrong.  I will apologize all day long to Tim, my boys, my family, my friends and everybody else if I mess up.  Here is what I’m talking about:

1. I will not apologize for setting boundaries that safeguard my family and myself.  This includes physical, emotional and social boundaries.  This might mean declining certain invitations or leaving early from events.  We may not sign up for every sport or academic club no matter how vital or popular the advertised skills may be.  “That’s a great offer, but no thank you, ” will not be accompanied by, “I’m sorry but we can’t make it.”

2. I will not apologize for being a lady and playing “man roles” like coaching a boys baseball team.  I’m not sorry when I plan out a practice drill that the players don’t quite get.  We’ll get it right and try again next practice.  I’ll teach those players to run the bases aggressively because when the pitchers are wild and the catchers can’t catch, we will get the W by stealing home eight times in a row.  The dads aren’t apologizing for winning, so I won’t either.  I also won’t apologize for teaching my players humility and compassion towards the other team.  It’s fun to win but empathy is a skill they will value long after they realize making it to the major leagues is a pipe dream.

3. No more apologies will come from me when I decline to attend another event or meeting when my schedule is already full.  And I won’t apologize when my “full schedule” doesn’t seem full to someone else.  My brain and body need recharge time.  That’s just who I am.  The Crazy Lindsey comes out when I haven’t had a chance to get back to normal frequency levels.  Believe me, nobody wants her here.

4.  I won’t apologize for being quiet in a world that doesn’t see the strength in that.  I also won’t apologize for my child’s slow to warm up demeanor either.  Susan Cain is teaching me that 50% of the world is like us shy ones, we just live in a culture that only values the other loud half.  We need both the quiet and loud, the sensitive and thick-skinned, the yin and yang.  It’s the combo that is successfully complete.

5. Financial decisions we make as a family don’t need have apologies attached.  Quite frankly, we don’t need to justify any decisions we make for the four of us.  Our family is, for the most part, an open book.  If there are explanations requested, we’ll oblige, but we aren’t sorry about well thought out conclusions.  We love to verbally process and philosophize with our trusted small circle.  They don’t need fake apologies from us and we don’t care if they make different resolutions for their own families.  Differences aren’t threatening, they make this world more colorful and beautiful.

6. I won’t apologize for my wardrobe choices.  First of all, everybody who knows me, understands that my husband has better fashion sense than I do.  If left to my own devices, I will be in jeans and t-shirts or any sort of workout attire (with no gym in sight).  I’m in my mid-thirties so the need for comfort has overpowered the need to impress others.  Sorry, I’m not sorry about that.

7. When others come over to my house, I won’t apologize for the messiness.  I love a clean house like anybody else, but some weeks the household chores don’t get crossed off the list.  If you are in our house, you are family.  We will feed you and house you because we WANT to and that’s what life is all about.  Hospitality is much more than sparkly counter tops.  Plus, if I apologize for the state of my house, that conveys the message to my guests about what I expect when I go over to their house.  I don’t freaking care if you have dog hair on your couch and toys scattered everywhere, I sure hope you don’t mind if I do too.

8. I won’t apologize when, “I’m sorry” accidentally slips out.  It’s a habit almost 34 years in the making; it is going to take a while to reshape the behavior that has become automatic.  Whenever it does slip out, I want to be introspective.  Did I really need to say that?  Am I really sorry?  Hopefully, then I can get to the root of the situation and the message I truly want to convey.

The problem with unnecessary apologizing is it loses it’s potency.  The words lose strength and credibility when peppered into every day speech.  Save the I’m sorrys for when they are real.

Honest remorse and regret are needed to heal and refuel all relationships.  We all mess up and it does your people justice when you admit it.  I’m not talking about the, “I’m sorry that you feel that way, or I’m sorry that you interpreted the situation that way.”  Those are cheap and fake words.  Don’t take the easy way out.  You are pretending to apologize when really still placing blame on the other person.  Take some ownership over your own actions and hurtful words.

I’m still working on this.  I’m guilty of fake apologies.  Now I’m trying to weed out the stuff that doesn’t need to be there.  Both the fake words and the unnecessary ones take away from what’s real.  When I tell someone, “I’m sorry,” I want it to be genuine and complete.  Hopefully my true offerings will be met with grace.

Are you like me?  What situations do you feel the need to offer up unnecessary apologies?  Are real I’m sorry’s hard for you?

adventures in adulthood, being an introvert

F – R – E – E

I’m not crazy about couponing.  I tried that a few years back but the successful money saving algorithm escaped my methods.  My efforts turned into spending more than saving so I ditched the lists that led me all over town.

For some reason I still cut out some of the coupons that come in the mail, but I rarely get around to using them.  I have even tried keeping them in my wallet, but they always get neglected and put in their final recycle bin resting place a year after expiration.  Maybe my subconscious is hoping that I will become a responsible functioning adult someday.  Apparently, those money-savers are tickets to grown-up success.  If only I could figure out how to make them work.  There must be a secret button that turns them on.

The only ones I get around to using are the shiny little papers that have F-R-E-E boldly printed on the front.  I’m not talking about buy-one-get-one free or spend $100 to get something free.  I’m no sucker.  I learned my lesson earlier.  The man won’t get me with his tricky ploys.  The ones I like are just free.  No strings attached.  Free and clear of manipulative wizardry.

Where do these coupons exist, you might ask.  This magic comes in the form of a little cardboard card with a scantily clad, photoshopped 20-something on the front.  Normally, this model robot, who we all know isn’t real, is staring off at something in the corner of the room.  I have no freaking idea what she’s staring at, but whatever this robot is doing works.  Victoria Secret is trying to be meek and alluring at the same time, but we all know her cute little smirk says, “YES! YOU CAN HAVE ONE.  YOU GET A FREE PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!!!”

The execs at VS are geniuses because this little card gets me into their store every. single. time.  Never mind most of the free products end up wadded up and thrown into the back of my underwear drawer. Those smooth silky things are wedgie magnets and I can’t function like that.  But these little pieces of fabric art are free.  Just free, and normally with their own strings still attached.  Bonus.

It’s great.  I get to walk in, grab my brand spankin’ new undies and stroll out of the store without ever digging into the abyss that is my purse.  My wallet never makes an appearance.  Free is a magic four letter word.

Every few months the postman delivers this card to my mailbox.  When I open that promise of complimentary sexiness, I get giddy.  I start to visualize how I am going to trick that sneaky Victoria Secret.  Her mystery has nothing on me.  I’m no dummy.  I know these on-the-house panties are just a ploy to get me into their store, but remember, I’m not a coupon newbie.  I know how to put on blinders and walk past the cute AND sexy sports bra.  I can ignore the soft stretchy yoga pants.  The glittery-lettered “bombshell” would look awesome on my booty, but, NO.  I’m not a sucker.  Those PINK tanks and shorts, meant for girls 15 years my junior, fit really well on me…. Don’t get sucked in Lindsey.  Blinders, remember?  I’m here to get my free stuff and that’s it.  Stay strong.

Since I had never set foot in this VS, I made sure to do an observational pass-by before going into the viper’s nest.  As I slowly strolled along on the shiny mall tiles, I peered into the wide entrance.  Okay, it looked fairly normal.  Black and pink lace threw up all over the perfectly proportioned mannequins and hung on the pillowy hangers.  There were a few sales people assisting other customers.  Good.  I was in the clear so I shuffled in and stuck to the outer perimeter.  I couldn’t let any of those bouncy sales ladies see me.  If I had to talk to one of them, I might get sucked into the sexy, cute madness.

I refocused on my original objective.  As visions of free silkies floated through my brain, I bumped into something purple and lacy hanging off a cushioned hanger.  Oops.  My clumsiness was loud.  The sales vultures had me in their sights.  Crap.

I put my head down.  No eye contact.  NONE.  I may still have a chance.

I pretended to be looking at a random display.  I needed to find the free of charge product and quick, but where was it?  For the love, it was probably at the back corner of the store.

My tactics worked for 0.3 seconds before a cute, short brunette hopped up in front of me.  She was dressed all in black with a pink measuring tape hanging around her neck like a soccer scarf.  Are perfect size and shaped boobs a requirement for working at VS?  It must be.

HI! MY NAME IS BROOKE. HOW ARE YOU?

Was she yelling?  I looked around to see if anybody else thought the volume was excruciating.  Everyone else was moving along, business as usual.  Just me then.

For a split second I contemplated pretending I was mute.  But that was abandoned when I knew I had to get what I came for.  I don’t mess around when it comes to no-charge undies.

“Hi,” I whispered.

Brooke (with a bright-eyed smile): WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

Me (still trying to sneak shifty glances to find those panties): uhh….Lindsey?

Brooke: WHAT BRINGS YOU IN TODAY? IS IT YOUR DAY OFF?

Me: Umm, no, well kind of.

A confused look spread over her youthful face.

Me: Well, I’m a Stay at Home Mom, so I’m kind of off the clock right now.

Brooke (still a bit confused): Oh yeah!  I guess it’s around 2.  Where are your kids?  Are they at daycare?

Me: What? No.  Umm, they are at school.

< pause >

Lightbulb.

Brooke: Oh! Right! School.

I was extremely glad she’d heard of school.  Maybe this little sales pitch would be over soon.

Brooke: What are you shopping for today?

Me: Oh, I’m just looking around.

Dang it!  I should have said something else.  Now she’s going to show me exactly what I should “just look around” for.

Brooke: Welllllll! Have you seen our new bra? It’s amaaaaaaazing.  It has CREAM inside the lining.  FEEL IT!

Me: What? Okaaaay…

Brooke: This new technology actually makes up for deficit areas.

Now I was the one confused.  Brooke barreled into the undergarment technology lesson by using her own boobs for example.

Brooke: See here, on the outside of my chest?

Oh gosh, now she is touching her own boobs.  I started looking for the exits.

Brooke: I always feel like I need a little more oomph right here.  (Now she was man handling her outer boob portion, right next to the pits.)  The cream fills into the places to give you a fuller, more balanced chest.  There’s another girl who works here who needs a little extra help right here! (Now she was showing me her impressive cleavage.)  IT’S GREAT, RIGHT!?!

My deer-in-headlights look gave her the indication to move onto the next product description.  She grabbed my hand and dragged me over the the next table.

Do saggy mom boobs count as deficit areas?  I’d heard of the age-old bigger is better in the boob department, but I had no idea that Victoria was a scientist.  Was that her secret?  Did she go to MIT and get an engineering education?  Wow.

Brooke: Have you tried this one?  It’s amaaaaaazing….

By then, I was on discomfort overload and I can’t even remember her next technology lesson.  I think it lasted for another five minutes, which, of course felt like five hours.  I was sweating and trying to hold back the hyperventilation.

She may have received indication that I was no longer paying attention because she shoved a card into my hand with instructions to check off all the undergarments I wanted to try on.

Brooke: What products have you worn in the past?

Me: Uhhhh….I can’t remember….something with “body” in the label.

Brooke: Oh! Was it Body by Victoria or Beauty Body or Body Sexy or Secret Body?

Me:……..I’m sorry, I have no idea.

By now her smile was fading and an exasperated look was starting to creep into the corner of her eyes.  I was clearly a lost cause.  There was no hope for me.  She tried another angle.

Brooke: What size are you?  Have you been measured lately?  I can measure you right here and now, no problem!

Whoa!  I held the check off list up in the air like a white flag.

Me: No! Nope.  No thank you.  I know my size, thank you very much.  Thank you for your recommendations, I will go now.

And with that graceful departure, I slunk off to hunt down my free goodies.  The mission was not lost yet.  Set backs happen, time to move forward.

After careful survey of the store I finally found my prize.  As I walked up to the register, another smiley lady began her approach.  This time, I had my bearings and I held up my white check off card flag, “Brooke has already helped me.  Thanks!”  Now get away, salessnake.

I had a little moment of panic at the cash register.  The minksy blonde asked if I wanted to purchase anything else.  She rattled off all the deals going on at the store that day.  I knew back and forth conversation was my downfall so I just smiled and let her list off the amaaaaazing deals.

I replied with a mirrored smile and a, “No thanks, I’ll just get these today.”  She seemed kind of pissed as I inched the panties closer to her scanner.

I marched out of the store with my head held high and my prize wrapped up in pink tissue paper.  I did it.  I survived.  Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedom!!!!!!

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Yep. I just posted a picture of my underwear on the internet.  But it was a MAJOR AWARD.  So sue me.