Author: Alex

Hi. I'm Alex (aka zippy). I work as a executive coach for senior leaders who are technical experts and want to lead human teams with meaning, value, and exceptional results.

2019 My Word for the Year

For the past several years, I’ve selected a word that I use as a theme, or beacon for the coming year. When I started, I was attracted to words like “sparkle” and “epic”, but now I’m more drawn to words that capture something about how I’d like to feel in the coming year. A word that resonates deeply with a part of my brain that I barely understand.

For 2019 my word is “lightness” and my particular definition of the word is something like:

Lightness: (noun)

  1. the state or quality of being light in weight.
  2. the quality of being agile, nimble, or graceful.
  3. lack of pressure or burdensomeness.
  4. lack of seriousness; levity in actions, thoughts, or speech.
  5. gaiety of manner, speech, style, etc.; cheerfulness.

I think about this in terms of what I’d like more of and what I’d like to share with others. Thinking about more lightness is calming.

As I move through 2019, I’ll encounter the usual number of decision points, tough choices, and moments where I want to do everything at once (or nothing at all). As many times as possible, I hope to use lightness as a touch point. “Will this bring my lightness?” “Will this add lightness?” “Will I feel lightness?”

I’ve imperfected this habit over the years. If experience is a great predictor, I’ll forget my word for weeks at a times. I’ll surely choose clutter and chaos from time to time. But sometimes my word will be ready and present and will be quite perfect.

51 years, 51 miles, and so many teachers

Jason and I have a birthday tradition.  We ride bikes together.  1 mile for each revolution around the sun.

And while we ride, we share milestones and memories from the year that we’ve just completed (when we remember).

On my 51 mile birthday ride, I realized how each of my earliest years were distinguished by my teachers.

Kindergarten: Mrs Livingston, we played “Giants & Fairies” to her piano playing (we had a piano in our classroom)
1st grade: Mrs. Frazer, we practiced counting to 100, as a class, standing up. (always a long 9 before the next 10s group)
2nd grade: Ms. Donovan, she had red hair and was so nice. and then we moved and I had Mrs. Ross… Her first name was Alice, we listened to Alice’s Restaurant a lot. She loved birds and each of us cut balsa wood airplanes with exacto knives (7 years old!)
3rd grade: Mrs. Barger, she loved teaching us Spanish, called me Alejandra, and drove 2 of us to the store to pick out candy for our class piñata
4th grade: Mr Shephard-Blue, he taught us Russian, played the piano in class, and introduced us to Shakespeare. I was Dromio in The Comedy of Errors (I wore pantyhose on my head to look bald, so embarrasing!)
5th & 6th grade: Mrs. Rotondi, I adored Mrs. Rotondi, she was so smart and so kind. My paper mache grand canyon was a terrible mess.

And I remembered all of my subject teachers through junior high and high school. (too many to list here) And with each of them, specific classes and lessons come rushing back into my consciousness. I thought about how amazing it was that these teachers became my reference for specific points in time and really for how I understood my own experience.

Logging on to my computer this morning, I saw the Happy Teacher Appreciation week google doodle.

Decades later I can recall so many lessons and fine details from grade school schedules.  If you’re a teacher, thank you. You make an indelible impression on the lives you touch. Perhaps not every lesson is remembered by every student, but you live on forever in some of us.

 

It was a very good year

Here I am. The last evening of 50.

Approaching 50 felt like moving to the end of something, of what I’m not sure.  Of my youth? Maybe.
Although some might suggest that my youth was left further back in history.
And I would argue that I still don’t feel like a grown up.

It’s been a mix of letting go… Our home of 23 years and dumpsters full of stuff we’d collected and saved for years. Our old town and community and favorite restaurants. The running and cycling routes I’d traveled too many times to count. The quick trip to our closest friends’ houses, the ones who had come to know our stories, as we muddled through whatever, together.

And a flurry of beginnings… New (and significant) triathlon PRs. New sports: mountain biking and rowing. New home. New town. New roads to ride. New business ventures. New colleagues. New friends. New traditions.

Plus some things that are both, like weekend long sleepovers with friends. And riding bikes on new roads with old friends.

Throw in ‘more fun with perimenopause’ and really nothing feels normal anymore. Maybe being unsettled is a gift for growth when you become an uncertain woman of age, dunno.

What I do know is that if, as 50 ends, you’re sitting barefoot on the deck, thinking back on the year, you’re doing all right.

In Frank’s words, it was a very good year.

Not-so-epic update: plastic bags

11 January days completed, imperfectly.

I haven’t arrived at the register with the appropriate number of reusable bags, yet. I’ve run back to the car while a line formed behind me (sorry), I’ve shoved apples, oranges and other items into my pockets, and I’ve piled everything back into the cart and let a variety of groceries roll free in the way-back of the car. (like how we used to ride in the car as kids)

Thank you for the stories of arriving to the checkout counter without your reusable bags. I was able to quickly recall these back-up plans, when needed, and as a result didn’t waiver at all in my not-so-epic conviction. (inconvenience is quite helpful for getting better at remembering on the way into the store)

An expected byproduct of sharing this not-so-epic goal is that what started out as a personal resolution, has become a goal shared with Jason. He’s rocking it! And we’re doing even better by collectively reducing our acceptance of plastic bags. Plus it’s fun to have another human to high-five after you’ve carried handfuls of produce and really cold, frozen tater tots to the car AND it’s a million degrees below zero.

Sadly, we can’t claim 11 days = zero plastic bags. One new bag did make it into the house. It was tied around a paper bag, protecting our Thai take-out. We didn’t have a strategy for this scenario. Doh! Our take out menus now have “ask for no plastic bags” written next to the phone number. We’ll see how this works out. (any other suggestions?)

That’s it. Imperfect and better than hoped!

Another not-so-epic New Year Resolution

This one may possibly seem less epic than the original not-so-epic goal. But I’m thinking it has a more global impact than my tidy room.  And it’s takes up space in my noggin and I catch myself wishing I’d get better about it, so I’m just going to claim it here and hope, that with some luck, support, and preparation I can make myself a new habit in a month or two.

My goal: to stop taking plastic shopping bags at stores. In the big picture, I’d like to reduce all of my plastic consumption, but will start with one discreet activity – accepting plastic bags.

I’m curious to see how many days in a row I can muster.  I don’t remember the existence of plastic bags when I was growing up, so I feel good about the odds of surviving and being able to figure out alternatives when needed.  I’ve got my accumulated reusable bags ready to be loaded into the cars.  I’ve got a back up plan: I’ll take several trips to the car with whatever I can carry when I forget my bags, rather than make “this-one-time” exceptions.

Right now I’ve got motivation, which I’m sure I will resent at least a few times, but here it is in writing. Just not going to take anymore plastic bags. That’s it.

Day 1 is going well. I haven’t left the house.

I’ll keep you posted.

Without inTent

I’m floating on a river somewhere between what I’ve known and something I can’t quite envision, nor articulate.

The tent went with the sale of our house back in August; so I’m without a tent and without intent. I don’t have epic goals. I’m not chasing any PRs.  I’m not signed up for races.
There’s part of me that feels like I need to get something legit on the books ASAP. Races are filling up. My feed is a flutter with New Year goals.
But in my heart I’m more like, “epic…? ”  meh.

It’s a wonky space. I know myself when I’m setting ambitious race goals and ticking off days on a training plan, with a certain degree of intensity. This is just air.

On the personal growth side, living in this adrift / unintentional state, is making me more comfortable with ambiguity, in general, and better at spotting subtle gifts hidden in not knowing. My patience and trust have been exercised a lot more and have grown stronger. I’ve learned that I can pretty quickly alleviate most of my self-induced mental churn stress by taking myself outside and doing almost anything.  And I can now, with some consistency, practice breathing and sitting.  (total badass!)

Amidst these unimposing, very basic things, I feel change rumbling inside. I’m certain it’s germinating and it’s likely to be also quite ordinary, but lovely, too, I hope.

(Oh, and on the topic of change, it feels like time to find a new title for this site…)