A one-post whirlwind through two and a half months, including what it’s been like as an “empty nester” (oof, I hate that term…), a peek at the ongoing Larksome Goods project, how Peloton saved my life and changed our work at Kindred Place, and a few other things, including reading and recipe (ish) links.
Let’s do it:
At a New Year’s Eve party, December 31, 2019, I was talking with a friend who is enough older than I am that her children are grown. I don’t know what that translates into in years. She is ahead of me, that’s the important part. And she is a friend because she doesn’t use that status for leverage but rather for comfort.
We were standing in front of a fireplace, sipping our drinks and wondering if we could stay awake until midnight. Across the room, our introverted husbands seemed to be having a pleasant enough time together.
My friend looked from them to me and said something about my son, how he looked like his father but also looked like me in a way she hadn’t noticed before.
“He’s graduating this spring, isn’t he?”
“Yes,” I said.
She paused, trying to find exactly the right words. She looked over to the men again, then back to me. “You’re about to go through a weird time,” she said. “But when you finally get to the other side of it, it’s actually pretty good.”
Almost three years later, having moved both children into college while navigating, among other challenges, the pandemic, I might be starting to understand what she meant. For the first time in 22 years, I occasionally have time to think a complete thought, uninterrupted.
I’m also beginning to understand the full depth of the statement, “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”
Is it still a weird time?
Yes; and differently weird from what I imagined. It’s strange not to have my children here as active parts of my daily life. There are times when I have a nagging feeling that I’m supposed to be doing something or going somewhere, but that feeling is just a carryover, a phantom obligation.
Now that I have the freedom to do pretty much whatever I please, it has taken me several weeks to get time in order and my priorities straight. I can do things that I’ve been putting off (or that I’ve done, but somewhat badly, without enough time and energy to do them fully and well).
As I announced recently to the Larksome List subscribers I’m now finally (finally) moving forward on things I had planned for 2020.
Too little, too late? We’ll see. Here’s a peek at the calendars, this year with a cleaner approach but still a little funky. Still to come on that front: A site refresh and some new content, including tutorials on writing and life-work balance.
When Work & Life Collide
Things that have gotten me through the past three years: lots of past experience in crisis communications; having children who were old enough not to need constant supervision while we were all working/schooling from home together; meeting biweekly with a terrific executive coach; a resilient and committed team of co-workers; family; neighbors; friends; and…
Yes, I’m serious.
When I write that Peloton saved my life, it’s not much of an exaggeration. After a knee injury a few years ago, a pre-pandemic schedule that didn’t easily accommodate good exercise habits, an abundance of stress at work and at home, and then restrictions that cut off access to gym, tennis, and physical therapy, I ordered the Bike.
When it was delivered, in the fall of 2020, my husband said: You’re never going to ride that thing; you’ll get bored and use it as a clothes rack.
I rode that damned bike (Bike, in Peloton branding) every damned day for a solid year, just to prove a point. By then I was hooked. All in. Total Kool-Aid consumption.
Riding daily led to doing yoga daily, stretching, and then to strength classes to support my back and shoulder.
Every damned day.
Among other things, it gave me a place to put my stress.
Now, two years later, I can’t remember which knee was injured, and my back doesn’t seize up unexpectedly anymore. My resting heart rate and blood pressure are in the low normal range, and I’m stronger than I’ve been in years.
Yes, I’m all in, still. I love the content and community, and I wish the best for the company. Truly. Even though the bike frame is rusting and Peloton won’t do anything about that (it’s a design flaw, in my opinion, but they were unmoved by my appeals…).
But all that is just background for the actual news:
Because I drank the Kool-Aid, I started following the Peloton people on Instagram. And one of the people I started following was Denis Morton (my favorite Peloton instructor). Through Denis’s posts last summer I discovered the One Love Foundation, and that discovery is now part of a fundamental, transformative shift in my work at Kindred Place.
Short version: About six months before the pandemic started, we began shifting from trauma-focused intervention to education-focused prevention, with counseling, coaching, and classes to support healthy relationships — parent/child, partner/partner, friend/friend. As the glorious Esther Perel says, the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.
During the two-year whitewater of the pandemic ups and downs, we’ve been providing a broad range of counseling services for children, adults, and families. What we see, now more than ever, is that children learn relationship skills from the adults around them. When adults (parents, teachers, neighbors) model healthy relationship behaviors, kids pick up on them.
Both kids and adults can learn new behaviors in building strong, healthy relationships.
But we needed a great curriculum, one with compelling, age-appropriate content and messaging that was in line with prevention, not intervention. Skill-building content, not “be afraid of the entire world” messaging.
One Love is (here comes the wonky part) an evidence-based curriculum that teaches kids, from elementary school through college, the signs and skills of healthy relationships.
And it’s awesome.
What do they (and we) mean by “relationship”?
Well, it’s not just intimate partner, romantic relationships but friendships and collegial relationships, too.
What happens during One Love training? Kids learn age-appropriate skills around healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, healthy conflict, supporting friends who are in unhealthy relationships, and more.
And the training to become a certified One Love educator is free, thanks to generous donors and corporate partners. (Find out more at joinonelove.org.)
Want to schedule a workshop for your students? Let’s do it. Here’s the link to request a speaker/trainer. And that speaker/trainer will be yours truly, because I was recently certified as a One Love educator.
On that note…
Remember when I wrote that work and life were colliding for me? And some of you wondered if I were making a big change?
Well, here’s what it actually meant:
Over the past year I’ve completed the motherlode of training and development, including 100+ hours of work toward an International Coaching Federation credential, Gottman certification (as a trainer, not a therapist), and yoga teacher training.
Why? Easy: As the saying goes, if you want to master something, learn to teach it.
Teaching requires preparation, practice, and skill-building. So I’ve been preparing, practicing, and building skills to do more of the work that I’ve done informally for a long time, at Kindred Place and in general, in support of relationships — donor relationship, high-stakes client and board relationships, etc.
Which means I’ve been doing a lot of reading, studying, and coursework, but not so much cooking, writing, or housework.
Reading (when I can)
Eric Idle: I Survived Pancreatic Cancer. It’s a Funny Story. (Time – login required, but no paywall)
My book group is still meeting, and we just finished the terrific Afterlives: A Novel, by Abdulrazak Gurnah
Ok, I have only one recipe link to offer, and it’s one you’ll either love or hate: Spring onion, green pea & spinach fritters
I have been cooking, though, just not cooking-cooking the way I used to. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I decided to give Hungryroot a try. I like it. A lot. It’s simple. And I don’t have to go to the grocery story for anything other than coffee and half and half.
When I have the time (and that’s going to be one day soon), I’m going to make my kitchen Jenny’s Test Kitchen and figure out how to make that Hungryroot Almond Chickpea cookie dough. No, I’m not kidding. IYKYK.
As I work through the backlog of things that have been on the back burner, I’m making changes here that you’ll notice if you drop by to look for something. I’m limiting access to past content and looking at different ways of publishing going forward. But monthly digests like this are here to stay and will still be public. Fair enough?
See you… soon.