Hi everyone, it’s been a while. I have been putting the podcast notices out but haven’t written an actual blog post since mid-October. It’s actually the longest stretch I’ve had without writing for over 11 years. It’s been a weird couple of months following a weird couple of other months. In particularly it’s been a year of great loss for me – a very close friend (and my squash partner), my step-dad, my lovely cat Ruby, my beloved Stella the chihuahua. Two of them were sudden and unexpected, two of them occurred after long illnesses. The cumulative effect has been total writers’ block. I just haven’t been seeing the stories around me like I usually do and I haven’t been filled with the desire to write, which is a definite sign I have not been myself.
I’m not looking for sympathy. I have had a ton of support from family, friends, and also from the last pet standing, Luna the cat, who has glued herself to me for lack of other furry companionship. It is a cuddle-fest of convenience, but I’ll take it.
No surprise that I’d be sad after all that plus some other stuff, not to mention what is actually going on in this country – the news makes me downright violent these days. What has surprised me a great deal, though, is how the sadness has sapped my creativity. And it wasn’t until just today that I got inspired to finally pick up the laptop and go back to it.
Here’s who inspired me: the same person who inspired me to write the blog to begin with 11 years ago when it began: Jennifer Jones. Jennifer and I have known each other since she gave me my first post-college job back in the 1980’s. She was GM/Executive Vice President of Regis McKenna, Inc. and I was an intern in 1985; I became a full-time employee after I graduated. And we have managed to stay great friends ever since. I genuinely love Jennifer.
Jennifer and another Regis McKenna alumna, Patty Burke (also awesome and adored), and I had our annual holiday lunch yesterday at the Cliff House in San Francisco and of course it was great. I gave each of them a book, which was a copy of one my daughter once gave to me as a joke, but honestly I think it’s also sort of a great and valuable read. Bad Word alert: if you are sensitive to 4-letter words, stop reading. If not, I will share with you that the book is called F*ck That, An Honest Meditation, by Jason Headley. It’s one of those silly little books that you give as a gag gift, but then you read it and it turns out to have a certain, well, profundity, despite the silliness. Of course, if you’re me, silliness is profound. And because of that, I found myself early yesterday sliding head first into an MRI machine, saying my favorite line from this book to myself over and over, “Breathe in Strength, Breath out Bullshit.”
I was in the MRI because my back is jacked up, but the back pain has nothing on the total freak out I had in the MRI. I am not usually claustrophobic and it wasn’t my first MRI, but for some reason yesterday was the day that my brain went sideways as I slid into that thing and I started having a full tilt panic attack. It was a particularly small-bore machine (as in the opening was the size of a Cheerio hole) and my face was no more than 2 inches from the top, so perhaps that was what caused me to flip out. But whatever it was, after the imaging tech talked me down from the ledge and convinced me to go back into the tube, I spent most of the half hour I spent in there repeating that line to myself over and over in my own form of Lisa meditation, “Breathe in Strength, Breathe out Bullshit.” Ironically, I went straight from that session to my lunch date with Jennifer and Patty with two copies of that book in hand as gifts. It was actually a coincidence that this was the gift I had bought them. Or was it?
Anyway, we all laughed about it, particularly that quote from the book. This morning, when we all were exchanging emails talking about how much fun we had together, Jennifer told me that “Breathe in Strength, Breathe out Bullshit” should be the tag line for my blog. And I realized she was right! And then I started thinking (always risky). But what I thought was this: there are a number of things I have seen lately that have inspired me and given me joy/strength/various forms of goodness; breathing those in have kept me sane through these tough months and helped crowd out enough of the bullshit to keep me from the precipice. So my first act of writing after that dry spell, I decided, would be to share some of those things with you all. What the hell? I figure everyone can use a lift during the holiday season. Yeah, yeah, it’s not a bunch of healthcare stuff or venture capital stuff or even that educational, but I’m going straight for the over-the-top sappy brain candy stuff here. Because I can. So here goes:
I’ve written about Mr. Rogers before, but he is a true inspiration to me. I have seen both last year’s documentary (read my piece about it HERE) and the new movie with Tom Hanks, which is great. But what really made me smile was this story about how a hospital in Pittsburgh, in anticipation of a visit from Mr. Rogers’ wife, dressed all the newborns up in his image. That is some next level nursing. Nicely done.
Yesterday there was a story that caught fire on the Internet about a little 5-year old boy who invited his whole kindergarten class to watch the Court finalize his adoption. And the school and the judge went all-in making this experience amazing and memorable and as happy as it should have been. The teacher even helped all the kids make signs that had hearts attached to rulers (because Love Rules). Freaking adorable and a reminder that we should all live with a kind and open heart and stop being mean to other people because that is exactly the kind of bullshit that needs to be expelled.
In a similar vein, and in recognition that animals are so much less prejudiced and idiotic than people, I have fallen in love with this cat who adopts and nurses an abandoned puppy back to health and with this beagle who adopted and nursed two kittens who lost their mother. I love these stories, as they are both a) adorable and b) evidence that it really doesn’t matter how or if we are different from each other. We should all just figure out how to get along. There is nothing that is more bullshit than being prejudiced and acting on it. Those who do this know who they are.
I also got some great laughs out of this story about South Dakota’s advertising campaign to address how they are handling the serious challenge of meth addiction in that state. The story came to me courtesy of my daughter who apparently got the family gene for a sick sense of humor (nice!). I have to believe that South Dakota put this ad out with full knowledge of it’s irony, but it’s funny either way.
Back to one of my usual topics, women’s empowerment, I somehow got this 2016 story in my feed recently, “Female Shark in Seoul Aquarium Eats Male Shark Because He Kept Bumping Into Her.” Now that is some exhaled bullshit. That female shark just went all in on taking care of business and you gotta hand it to her. Getting knocked around in your place of work by insensitive, overly aggressive men is just not going to happen to strong women. Women often ask me how they should handle it when men are pushing them around in the office or mansplaining and I always say, “Call it out!” Perhaps I am being too soft.
And if you just can’t stand reading my blog without at least a mention of digital health, I will draw your attention to this recent article about the best wearable ever: eRosary beads that let you, ahem, click to pray. No really. It’s basically teleprayer, which may or may not have different regulatory requirements when you cross state lines. The article calls it a “Fitbit for spiritual health.” I call it genius marketing from the Vatican.
And last but not least and in the spirit of the holiday season, I am really enjoying this mouse taking advantage of opportunity. Hard to be mad at her for wrecking Frosty given how enterprising she clearly is. She is probably some sort of rodent entrepreneur.
Thank you, Jennifer, for re-lighting my writing candle. And thanks, Jennifer and Patty, for 35 years of friendship. Here’s to 35 more!