A couple things you will notice. First, you’re getting this email via Buttondown, an indie email service provider. I was getting increasingly annoyed with Mailchimp and how they seem to not care as much about newsletters as before.
I also did not want to fork over 10% of whatever earnings I may someday make to Substack.
Second, it’s been months since i have sent an edition. Instead of an essay, I wanted to take this space to update you on me, even though that is not what this newsletter is supposed to be about.
In June, my husband died. It was sudden, and I have been posting on Instagram and Incoherant Notes (my personal writing site) about it.
Prior, I had jokingly called 2020 the lost year. We have all lost something this year. A job. A friend. A possibility. Our sanity. Each person has different scales of what we’ve lost, but even if most things in your life are well, you have been touched by loss. Our society has lost pioneers like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and characters like Chadwick Boseman.
This year (and there are still months to go) has taught me a lot about work and creativity. Losing my husband has taught me a lot about priorities and what really matters. Being a leader in a time of reckoning has taught me a lot about where I fall short.
It’s a hard time for everyone, but here are some things that may be useful to you, if you feel like you, too, are hurting this lost year.
Adopt a beginner’s mind
I have a therapist and a grief coach now. Yes, two people. Because man, I deserve and need them. Between them, I am learning to rid myself of The Shoulds. The “This year, I should . . .” and “To meet expectations, I should . . .” and “This should be like _____ .”
Finding a beginner’s mind, to me, has meant that remembering this is the first time I have been through this. And my circumstance is different than others. It allows me to apply my empathy to myself, something I have issues with.
Think of this: No one has worked remotely through a pandemic before. Sure, similar things. But not this way. In your circumstance. So, how can there be a right way? You get to determine that.
And if you get it wrong, that’s cool. File it away. If something like this happens to you ever again (hopefully won’t), you have learned from it. And tomorrow, you get to try again.
There is no should, because we are all new to this life. This work. This set of circumstances.
Connections will see you through more than you think they will
Hundreds of people have reached out to me in the past few months. That is not an exaggeration. Hundreds. I am incredibly lucky, because I have met and talked to other widows who have no one.
I have thought about what makes me different than these other people. In job interviews, I will cop to the fact that I am constantly curious about other people and other ideas, so I love networking. And I love genuinely talking to others about their work. I had no idea, but genuine caring and curiosity, meant that people I feel like I barely know have sent me a note, a card or cookies from their favorite bakery.
In times of trial, words have weight
One of the biggest struggles for me as a manager is learning to bite my tongue. It is tough to not snap at people or give a fiery retort. But I was once told that the higher you go, the more social capital you have, the more your words have weight.
Not to make everyone paranoid, but right now, we’re all stretched thin. So every conversation, every Slack, every email, might hit someone in an entirely different way than intended. Words have more weight now.
How and what you say, personally and professionally, matter. What you do and do not say will come back to you. And it will not always come back to you in a way that you think is fair.
A small example: I hate it when people ask “How are you?” Terrible, is the answer. But society teaches us we are supposed to say, “fine”. The easier question for me is “How are you today/this week?” Today, I am doing fine. Today, I am missing Justin.
One word, different impacts.
Reading // Watching // Testing //
La Belle Sauvage is the first book in Philip Pullman’s new trilogy, Book of Dust. If you were a His Dark Materials fan, this takes place in the same world.
A lovely soothing reality show for you: The Repair Shop where some delightful British artisans repair and restore beloved family items and heirlooms.
The book link above is not GoodReads, but StoryGraph. I first read about it in this article, and have decided to try it out to replace the archaic GoodReads.