purge

October 29th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

In my various glancing blows with success, I have had the most humbling experience of rising to the level of my own incompetence. These moments of exposure to my own shortcomings and blindspots are seared into my memory along with the moments of professional bliss, those days when projects came to fruition, grants were awarded, awards were granted, or teams carried ideas further than I could have ever dreamed on my own.

I keep the dark days there, in my mental trophy case, as triumphs on par with the days I stood in the sun.

How else would I know the precise tone and timber of my own internal voice? How else would I know the sublime relief of amending a misstep? Would I have ever grown confident enough to take on risk without (extreme) fear and panic?

Today we lost a job lead to crew on a Swan. We don’t know and we may never know why, but the overall negotiation was dysfunctional, and we already understand that we partially dodged a bullet. When I do recover from this – go all the way through the disappointment, shame, reflection, and acceptance – the experience will ultimately go up on that shelf. But before I can do this, there is a bit more to wring from it.

Having had a rather non-linear career well into middle age, I largely missed out on the benefits of performance review from senior professionals. One of the best opportunities I ever had was to attend a Rockwood Leadership Institute training and receive a “360 degree peer review”, which was simultaneously one of the most uncomfortable and valuable experiences of my professional life. From a packet of anonymized feedback on Day 3, I learned that I could be tough on my colleagues (which at times was motivating and other times wearying), that I took professional defeats quite personally, and that I was not very confident doing fundraising.

I saw much of this emanating from a central lie that there is something “less” about my work, so that I have to continuously put in more and minimize what I ask for in return. This has something to do with working while female in mostly male-dominated spaces, as well as formative experiences in the more behind-the-scenes realms of advocacy. Both factors made my work invisible in certain ways, and it became my desire to be a mission-driven magic-maker who needed nothing yet could do everything.

The wheels fell off on that type of thinking long ago.

Today, having side stepped this trajectory, I have somehow taken control of the role of money in my life and the value of time. Financial health has gone from being a topic I dare not speak of to an exciting project I get to unwrap, examine, debate, and tinker with. Day to day, I focus on living with maximum freedom and minimum expense. As we have less stuff, we somehow end up with more time. I am very proud of this, because it was terrifying to change course. I had to trust another person (my husband), which was also new and weird.

I once described this chapter to my Dad as “economic stasis”, which I believe describes it well. But at a certain point, we will have to find a way out of it.

When I work now, I pay close attention to where I feel stress, and where I feel purposeful. What type of work “flow” comes readily, what requires more self discipline, and where I may succumb to procrastination and self-sabotage. I try to compare this info with what professional goals I have left for myself and chart a path from here to there.

In the interest of being totally transparent here, which may or may not be a smart move on such a tumultuous day, my current professional goals are:
1. Work on an expedition or research vessel;
2. Publish more papers, personal writing, and ultimately a book of non-fiction about sea level communities;
3. Live and work in a land management capacity doing conservation (ecosystem, wildlife, foodways, remediation, water quality) at a watershed scale;
4. Be intentional and overt in my commitment to intersectional justice while doing any or all of the above.

When I lay it all out like this, I can see how the opportunity lost today was not a direct link to any of these goals. If I continued to look at it sideways, as I was doing, or if I added a few more items to my list, as I am totally open to doing, it would have made more sense.

What weighs more heavily on me today, is that it definitely lined up with the goals of another person (my husband), who is going through a recovery process of his own.

grandmother’s memorial recap

December 6th, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

This past weekend, we memorialized Helen Zidar with a Catholic mass, placement of her ashes, and a brunch with all the cousins. Her life spanned the coal patch, several wars, public housing, the rise of the unions, raising two kids, the unexpected death of her husband (my grandfather, Luke Zidar), the unexpected death of her daughter (my Aunt Audrey) and ultimately receiving her four grandkids and four more great grandkids for many visits, as her surviving son (my dad, Bernard Zidar) expertly managed her care and affairs.

These are the photos shown at her memorial brunch, as my dad narrated and those gathered joined in with memories of our ancestors and the great lives of Helen and Luke. At the end are a few photos I took from my vantage in the room, as well as a few shots of us at the house. I wish I would have gotten more photos of everyone, but I was too thoroughly enjoying meeting “new, old” cousins and catching up with people face-to-face.

Hooray and bon voyage to Helen, and say hello to G-pap for us.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

above all, love

June 18th, 2016 § 3 comments § permalink

So, we left, broke a sail, went back, dropped my phone in the water, our chart plotter tablet failed, and a squall blew away a sleeping cushion (*shakes fist at Neptune). Now, as we limp north, dodging the warm thunderstorms of the season, our drive to New England and beyond looks more like a pick and roll up the coast.

We are back to a life beyond our control – the deciding factors for each day’s movements are wind, weather, and tide. It feels a bit awkward but I find it is better to relax and try less hard to let go, if you can imagine that.

image

Mandala for Ms. Hurd, librarian and one of the Emanuel 9

Today’s wind, weather, and tide allowed for a few hour of walking in Charleston, SC. We walked across town to our favorite library on a course that brought us to the steps of Emanuel AME Church, where – exactly one year ago – nine black churchgoers (Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson) were murdered during bible study by a young white supremacist who’s name I shall not speak. Suddenly we were in the midst of ceremonies, prayers, remembering, security perimeter, parishioners purposefully setting up chairs, and the Red Cross passing out water.

image

Memorial and parishioners at gate.

I was in coastal GA when this happened. I felt isolated with my own feelings of outrage and fear. Outrage because the capacity for hate in the human heart is an absolute monster. Fear because, as I came to realize, the fear of losing access to what privilege I have in a segregated society, could hamstring how vocal I was in my writing and day-to-day interactions. I prayed for opportunities to be placed in my path to promote unity and kindness (and they were) but I did not charge off the path one bit. As one who considers herself a lover of all flora and fauna, and a believer that we are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness, I knew I could do better.

The vantage from our boat reveals much in terms of the historic orientation of land uses such as ports, quarantines and naval defenses, and often presents a modern day of stark contrasts. For example, Sullivan’s Island flanks the spacious harbor of Charleston to the north. Today you see its beachfront lined with opulent homes and kids out parasailing as you enter. Historically, it was was the point of entry for about 40% of the enslaved Africans who survived the Middle Passage and arrived in North America. In 2008, when the Toni Morrison Society finally established a bench as a monument, the only monument, to this fact, Ms. Morrison sat on the bench and said, “It’s never too late to honor the dead. It’s never too late to applaud the living who do them honor.” The honor I can do is to use every tool I have to promote unity and kindness, at home and in the street. I say this here to hold myself accountable.
image

I have been reading Octavia Butler’s Patternist series, wherein characters can draw down on the collective power of a “pattern” of brethren and use it to perform various tasks of protection, war, and healing. Doing so without great skill can cause damage to those in the pattern, but some are able to find a balance, and thereby do great work. Is this all coming together, dear reader?

In conclusion, and perhaps TL;DR, white folks need to talk about racism with other white folks. We all either have it, or have access to it, and so we can choose to help dismantle it. Choosing to let hate grow where we see it expressed is cosigning it. I believe that with love, there is enough pie for everyone.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the family category at plankton every day.