Nagging to Excellence

iStock_000012148387XSmallJust the other night my husband and I were talking about the people who inspired us to become people of initiative. We are both natural competitors. Neither of us can stand not to do a job, even the smallest one, well. Initiative is one of our natural traits: We see something falling through the cracks—we do something about it, even if it is not our responsibility. These things are inherent within us, but along the way, people in our lives have nurtured this trait.

One of those key people in my life was my sister.

My sister NAGGED me into excelling. Continue reading “Nagging to Excellence”

We May Even Become Friends

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. —Maya Angelou

This week my day job involves interacting with my colleagues from 19 branch offices from around the globe. These people, some scientists, some marketers, some journalists, some younger, some older, have flown to Madison from PacAsia, South America and Europe. We meet in Madison, WI, in January to talk about aligning our efforts as we work to support the work of scientists around the globe.

When we sit down around a common table, we treat each other differently.
When we sit down around a common table, we treat each other differently.

We could have these meetings using video conferencing technology, and indeed throughout the year, we often do have such meetings. Emails and instant messages fly across cyberspace from continent to continent on a daily basis, but the yearly meeting where we all get together and interact face-to-face lends a whole new dimension to the work we do and how we do it.

Meeting one another and spending the afternoon at a painting bar sharing a meal, a blank canvas and acrylic paints brings out the humanity in all of us. We learn that our colleagues in France and in Switzerland also have young daughters who dress up like Elsa and sing “Let It Go” over and over and over and over and …well, you get the picture. Continue reading “We May Even Become Friends”

The Dog Ate My Christmas Present

Our silly tomten.
Our silly tomten.

We have four gifts under our tree right now. All of them were purchased by our daughter for Grandpa, Grandma, Mom (me) and Dad. That’s it, four gifts. And the dog ate mine.

Okay, perhaps that is just a bit of an exaggeration. The dog opened mine. My daughter and her sitter arrived home first, and they were able to rewrap the present.

It’s been that kind of Christmas season. Continue reading “The Dog Ate My Christmas Present”

Practically a Teenager

“I’ll be 9, which is almost 10, which is practically a teenager…so don’t call me little…”

That is how some of the conversation at our house has gone recently.

“Whoa! Slow down there partner, you’re still 8 right now, and you will never have the chance to be 8 years old again, so make sure you REALLY enjoy these next couple of days. And when you turn 9, don’t rush into teenager. Enjoy being 9; it only comes around once in a lifetime.”

As I rapidly approach my collision course with the half-century mark, I truly understand the quote “Youth is wasted on the young.” Continue reading “Practically a Teenager”

November Quiet

IMGP6083My daughter’s birthday month got off to an early start when she received her birthday card from the Green Bay Packers on October 31. Finally, an organization that appreciates November with the same enthusiasm as my daughter!

Typically we don’t get excited about November. It’s that brown month between the captivating color change and crisp fall air of October and the lights, tinsel and snow of December. The harvest is in. The fields are barren; the birds have migrated, and the snow has not yet covered the earth in its white winter blanket.

November is the month of naked trees, early nightfall, and frosty mornings. It’s monochromatic. In the United States, the even the major holiday in November, Thanksgiving, is primarily black, white and brown—harkening to pilgrims, turkeys, and a harvest brought in.

At first glance it is a plain month, a quiet month, a slow month.

And in our society we are not comfortable with plain, quiet and slow. Continue reading “November Quiet”

To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before

Playing in the dirt from a young age
Playing in the dirt from a young age

We had just passed a road construction site on the small two-lane state highway on the way from our hotel to my Dad’s house. The new road cuts and construction revealed bright red dirt— really red dirt, even by the standards of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia.

From the back seat my daughter asked, “Mom, what kinds of worms do they have here in Georgia?”

“The same species that we have in Wisconsin, why?” I answered.

There was a thoughtful silence, then “But they poop out red dirt?”

It is truly a miracle that my husband managed to keep the rental car on the road.

Actually, it was an insightful question. Continue reading “To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before”

To Grandma and Papa’s She Goes

easter_cMy daughter spent two days with Grandma and Papa this spring break.

On Friday immediately after coming home from school, she marched upstairs and started packing. By bedtime on Friday night, she started hauling down suitcases and bags full of stuff from her bedroom to take on her trip. This continued all weekend. Mariah, our dog, could barely find her food bowl now because of all of the stuff that was going to Grandma’s—which was staged in our kitchen.

My daughter even wanted to go to bed early on Sunday night so that she could wake up extra early on Monday morning to leave.

She even gave her engineer Daddy directions on how best to pack things in the car—for maximum efficiency.

My daughter was just a little excited. Continue reading “To Grandma and Papa’s She Goes”