Friday, December 30, 2016

Three Reasons Hidden Figures Reminded Me I'm Ready for Trump's America

The ladies of Hidden Figures and their actresses on screen
Hidden Figures could not have come out at a better time - for the country and for me personally.

This drama based on the lives of women who were literally hidden from the history books of one of the most significant accomplishments of NASA in history, John Glenn's orbiting the earth in 1962.

I loved the film from start to finish and there were three significant reasons why this film moved me as it did going into 2017.

Black Women As Humans

While the movie shows us the extraordinary intelligence of three very different Black women, it also delves into each of their humanness. We don't see super human fearless "strong black women," We actually see women with fears, hopes and dreams. We see women depending on each other and community for support. We see women standing up for themselves while simultaneously doubting if they have the right to do so. We see the true complexity Black women face as leaders both at home and in the workplace. This film "goes in" on the story behind the story that we often miss on film about ourselves. We see laughter, tears and gritting of teeth by three glorious Black women - we get a full range of emotions versus the stereotypical angry Black woman narrative. We do see them get angry but we also see them experience joy, satisfaction and contentment.

This was especially touching to me as I've explored how I tap into my full range of emotions. I was raised to be strong and even on a recent phone call as I was breaking down talking about my divorce, I was admonished to 'be strong" by my dad. He meant no harm but has no idea how strong I am letting myself feel my pain. It is counter culture for Black women. We are bred to push on and push through. So glad to see pop culutre catch up to my new reality.

Black Women Pioneering

I've often wondered if my spirit of ingenuity was just me or if it was innate in being a Black woman in America. After seeing this movie, I'm convinced it's indeed both. When you look in spaces where Black women enter as the 'onlies," we have a habit of elevating that space and it never being the same. Katherine Goble as an addition to the NASA task force team as a "computer" changed that team forever, how they worked, how they looked at their work and even how their work was received by the astronauts. Look around you today, so many Black women out of sheer brute force -  create, initiate and drive innovation in our country, most often in the shadows of mediocre White people. Yet, we shine anyhow.

Heading into the 7th year of my business, expanding our offering so much and taking a leadership role in driving equity discussion and action, pioneering is something not only I need to do, but something our country needs me to do. Much like the ladies in this movie, the conditions require my best thinking and resilience to drive our country forward to its true future. Then, it was the Space Race with the Soviet Union, now it's shaping what United States of America we will be - one that leverages and utilizes the talents and contributions of all its citizens or  a country that only cares about the advancement of a choice few. You know which one I'm working towards and like the ladies in Hidden Figures - we will win.

Black Women Having A Second Chance At Love (Movie Spoiler Alert)

The central character of the film Katherine Goble is a widow with three beautiful children we see early in the film. She manages her stringent work and mothering with the live-in help of her own mom. When a local military man moves home, her squad is adamant about hooking her up with him. The movie takes us through their awkward dating life which is scarce due to the hours she puts in at NASA to his grand and no less awkward proposal. There are only a few more subtle references to her marriage and we see very little of the relationship in the movie but it was significant enough that one of the films postscripts alerts us that Katherine and her second husband Jim Johnson recently celebrated 56 years of marriage together. Instant tears of joy from me.

Anyone who's been in my life or even casually observing has seen the way the dissolution of my 15 year marriage has wrecked me personally this past year.  Even as I am typing through tears to write this post, I am experiencing my first holiday without my kids and as a single person. I absolutely STILL believe that I will have a 20 year wedding anniversary. 15 months ago, I thought it might be with Isael Barreto but I now know differently. I know I am an amazing catch, perhaps pressed for time and focused on building a business and reforming government but still a woman who wants a partner. Seeing Katherine Goble meet and marry someone gave me life. Why? Some days, I cannot even imagine how I'll make time for a new man in my life and that stretches even more trying to imagine the man who will be man enough to love and cherish me with all my intensity and drive. But seeing that on film and knowing it played out in real life for another brilliant Black woman gives me hope.

Hidden Figures is a movie for such a time as this. If those ladies could excel and drive our nation's transformation back into leadership in the Space Race, under the conditions they faced in 1960s United States of America - BRING ON the next administration.

I am ready.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ode To The Midwest City That Healed Me: Minneapolis

My beloved Twin Cities, although I spend most of my time in Minneapolis

Approximately one year ago, I made the final decision to let go of my marriage that I was clinging to for dear life in the aftermath of my husband's depression and subsequent spiral out of my life.  After a tough but awesome 2015, I decided not to enter 2016 trying to repair what was clearly gone. I vowed to "Recalibrate" my life in 2016. And recalibrate I did. But I could not have done it without Minneapolis Minnesota and my almost monthly treks there.

Let me count the top three ways Minneapolis forever changed me for the better in 2016.

The People

Literally, the people of Minneapolis carried me. First, there was the business colleague turned friend who runs a national conference for a downtown university. Opening his home and friends to me on a very tough trip in the middle of 2015, I cried my eyes out and poured my heartache out on his back patio on a warm Monday night in June. That vulnerability led to a bond and set of friends who would buoy both me and my kids during this entire year. From the freezing cold thrifting day in January to the pilgrimage to Paisley Park in July, one member of that group has become a constant each visit and I don't know what I'd do without him. Or I could also give credit to the two different new friends I met flying to Minneapolis this year - the middle seat on his way back from the Cayman Islands friend who actually kept in touch and the young man  rainbow spiked hair I had an intense conversation with on his way back from RiotFest in Chicago this past fall - both of these men have been bright spots for me and great new additions to my personal tribe. I'd be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to the business colleagues who also enveloped me and my kids with love as we explored the many parks and recreation facilities across the metro. From the ski instructors on the bunny hill to the paddle board rental manager, we were welcomed and treated so well by every person we encountered on every trip to Minneapolis as a family and that goes double for all the times I flew there alone.

The Work

The work I've done for my largest client in Minneapolis has challenged me beyond any other work since I started my business. From the complexity of the ask originally to how we have evolved our relationship over the last two years has grown me as a consultant and strategic partner by leaps and bounds. One great example is how they constantly question how we accomplish their goal to raise their relevance in the their area. We co-created some great work on unconscious bias and continue to push boundaries on why and how to push an inclusive leadership agenda forward in an organization that is not traditionally accustomed to speaking about equity, diversity and inclusion. This work with this agency has opened the doors to other agencies in the area. When I stop to really think about it, it was in Minneapolis that I launched the inclusion and diversity service offering in 2014 after my business was a a few years old and constantly asked to bring our perspective on inclusion and diversity to clients we had up to that point. It was at the Forum on Workplace Inclusion (the country's oldest and largest conference dedicated to diversity and inclusion)  in 2014 where my debut talk was the top rated talk out of 65 that year and I solidly earned my spot as a fresh and leading voice in the space. I have been a faculty member ever since with this coming spring as my first time in 3 years that I will only attend the conference and not present. I look forward to seeing the conference and my work there from a completely different perspective.

The Discomfort Converted Into Healing

Anyone who knows me knows I have never been one to hang out outside much. Cold or hot - I tended to be more of an indoors type of gal. Working with a majority of my clients as a parks and recreation agencies - you can imagine, I've had my share of invites to outdoor activities.

Denise, when you gonna come ski my hill?

Will you make it to our fill-in-the-blank-outdoor-festival?

Have you been on our hiking trail, lately?

Some of the many questions, I've faithfully dodged over the years and made many legitimate excuses to never partake in the the Illinois parks and recreation community. Not one Illinois parks and rec person can remember me taking them up on the many invites over the years. Boy, did they take notice this year when I was tweeting and posting from various parks and recreation sites in western Hennepin County starting in January with a video of me tubing down a hill in Elm Creek Reserve. I had vowed not to tube leading up to that trip. Barreto kids cajoled and park district employees ribbed but I was certain, I'd not do it at all or maybe only once. It was a negative 25 degree day in January and I was sure that I'd flake on the tubing and that the kids would join me. I was wrong. I went down that hill not once but three times. And my kids went down many many more. By nightfall, I was up on skis on the bunny hill behind Evan snowboarding for the second time in his life. We had a blast but most of all, I pushed past the cold and discomfort of being outside and enjoyed myself. I had no idea that would lead to a year full of outdoor activities and breathing of fresh Minneapolis air. I found myself getting to work sites 30 to 40 minutes earlier just to walk around the properties and "take in the scenery" the lush or barren landscapes - all beautiful, all serene, all wondrous.

This past summer, a boat ride turned into hours of paddle boarding when the boat "did not start". And while I don't believe to this day the boat didn't actually start- I am glad it didn't as paddle boarding became a thing at the Evanston beach this summer for my kids. I also liked it and would have done it in Jamaica had Hurricane Otto not come and followed us on the Thanksgiving vacation. We sat for hours in a cabana by the beach in Jamaica and read for hours in hammocks between trees almost every day of our vacation - a rarity for me. And it wasn't just in Minneapolis or Jamaica that drew me outside. I made it a habit back home with my Illinois parks and rec clients to arrive early and/or stick around post meeting and walk outside surveying the outdoors, breathing the air, quieting my soul. My initial discomfort with the outdoors melted away and provided a solace for my most frustrating moments. I live across the street from a park and now, I often step away from my desk to get fresh air -- outside.

Minneapolis, there were so many more aspects to how you assisted me in recalibrating this life of mine but none greater than your people, my work there and the way you made something uncomfortable for me before, absolutely irresistible to me now.

You did it. I am an outdoor gal.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

First Snow Triggers New Appreciation for The True Purpose of Winter

The snow covered tree outside my front window

Fall is my favorite season from start to finish. This season gives way every year to Winter and its  final days have always given me pause to reflect on the upcoming process that winter brings. Snow falls and brings about a natural slowing down of every thing.  Winter is a time for hibernation and the almost "death" of all growth.

This December as the first snow fell upon us, my personal life as I have known it for the last 16 years completely "died". After more than a year of knowing my marriage was over and the final decision to make it official, the day of the first snow in 2016 marked the first full week of our new normal of not living as a foursome. We are working daily on the new family dynamics. Holiday traditions as we've known them have to be reimagined and executed all once.

If I am honest, it is way harder than I ever imagined. This time of year is a constant reminder of our life as we've known it and the excruciating process of what we know and love hibernating. Shutting down.


Winter is a chance for everything to stop and just be. And that's exactly what we need right now.

As I hit the final month of this year of recalibrating my life - my womanhood, my motherhood, the relationship with my former life partner and how I operate as an entrepreneur in my new normal - I have a full appreciation for what Winter really is.

It is not death for the trees, flowers or grass beneath the snow cover.  It is the full stop of activity among them. They are quiet. Still. And undisturbed for a season.

That is how I move into this Winter. Ready for the quiet, still, undisturbed time to reflect on all the changes in our lives at this time. Rested from a respite island vacation. Replenished by time with my kids and my thoughts. Knowing full well what awaits me at the thaw.

New life.
New ideas.
New energy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Panacea To A Drought Season or Your New Normal

For more than two years, I have spoken about the "tough season" my family and have have faced. Many times I've referenced it as a desert, a drought and most certainly a "temporary" moment in time for us. As this "season" has given way to a new normal that is quite different to my old life, I have  come to terms with how I face life today.

First, I have a posture of surrender. I surrender myself to circumstances beyond my own control. Now surrender in this case is letting go of control as well as not allowing the circumstance to impact my core.

Single motherhood. Not my favorite term and certainly not a term I ever wanted associated with me. Took extraordinary lengths to never be a single mom prior to my marriage yet here I am at 45 recalibrating my life as a single mom. Surrender in this case meant letting go of my own deep rooted beliefs about single motherhood. This exercise also challenged me to rethink my womanhood and what it meant to be a woman. It helped me think beyond what I was conditioned to think about motherhood, womanhood and marriage -  and I had to surrender all those thoughts given my new information and it has been liberating. Surrendering those thoughts and actions based on those thoughts made way for the second way I've come to face my new normal - a posture of gratitude.

Now, I've always been a somewhat positive and thankful person. You could always count on me to send you written thank you notes and that's a trait I passed to my children. I started an Awesome Jar a few years back to literally track all the good things that happen to me each year so I can take time on New Year's Eve to be grateful for them. Being grateful has always been in my DNA but I see now how it's even further and deeper ingrained in my daily life.

Because of the sheer amount and length of painful experiences we've had in the last few years, little things I took for granted before are sources of joy for me.

A phone call from a long lost friend.
Cocktails with a new friend.
A text from a virtual friend.
A hug from a growing boy.
Snuggle time in the bean bag chair with young lady.
Over 200 birthday wishes on Facebook.
A full day without tears over anything lost.
A compliment from client.
An incremental project.
An idea for my blog.

This list could go on and on and on. I actively seek things to be grateful for these days. I can be grateful for the big things like an amazing birthday month that included a 5 day vacation in Jamaica with my kids and equally thankful for a 2 hour conversation with a new friend. My heart has grown bigger and my woes smaller.

Next time you find yourself struggling in a tough season or resisting your new normal - take time to surrender and be grateful. Rinse and repeat.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sloppy Towels = My New Sanity

Towels folded by others. Perfectly.

With a huge sigh of relief, I made it through September 2016. Four weeks, 12 flights, 2 road trips and about 8 nights in my own bed total. I do it to myself every year so it is not really a surprise and in the midst of it, it always hurts but on the other side, it always feels good.

The productivity.

The contacts.

The projects

Nothing matches the energy boost to my business as September of every year.

Now this year is different because it's the first time I'm winging solo as a single mom. The previous 4.5 years I could count on my husband to keep everything running smoothly at home during my chaotic time on the road. I say 1/2 because last year, I had an indication the marriage was over and his untreated clinical depression had rendered him less than capable during last year's annual September run. It did not end well and I knew I'd be in for it come 2016.

I planned better and overall it went well.  Yet there were aspects that still did not go as smoothly as I'd have liked. And thanks to the towels you see at the top of the page, I am ok with that.

Those folded towels changed my life in early September.

When I've been used to partnership and two adults carrying the load financially, physically,  mentally and emotionally for close to 14 years and I have to deal with it slowly peeling away; it is hard. It is exhausting. It is sad. But it is also frustrating. My instinct is to resist.

And in the midst of all the changes in life, you want some things to stay the same. Like the towels.

OH - but there is where I found life. Letting go of what was and accepting what is. Empowering others to chip in and accept that help without judgement.  Those "folded" towels and my ability to put them away without refolding them marked a new era in my life.

Not so long ago, I would have refolded them without a word and put them away. But not only would that have been bad for me but the message to the folks who folded them would have been that their contribution was good, but not good enough. It was physically painful to put them away as is and I laughed and giggled all the way to the pantry.

Since then, the dust in the corner doesn't bother me as much. The unpacked boxes from our May move don't nag at me at all. When I'm a few minutes late to pick up a kid, I don't sweat it. Eating Pizza Hut twice in one week elicits a shrug. Quilted Northern on sale versus Charmin Ultra Soft - nah - that's where I draw the line but you get the point.

We have entered the era  of "good enough." And my sanity is thankful.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

3 Things A Tough Person Does To Make It In Tough Times

For exactly two years, I have been saying those very words to myself.

Two years.

733 days to be exact.

But you know what has propelled me forward during this still very tough tough season?


While inspirational words and memes are very good to soothe you in a moment, action is the only real anecdote for tough times. Here are three actions I've taken that have helped me in my seemingly never ending "tough season."


I have stopped resisting all the turmoil. Early in this season, I'd fight fiercely to move forward and "be done" with all that is going on around me. Ironically, personally speaking it's not let up one bit. My avoidance and fighting has not changed any circumstance or outcome. And while I'd love to tell you I believe my season is due for a change, I don't. I have accepted that this season could very well be my new normal and that I need to get some better coping mechanisms in place.  I have also accepted that looking for "relief" from the onslaught of difficulty was not helping.  Breathing and learning to face what was and continues to happen to me and around me has helped me tremendously. The energy I use to use to fight or resist has been redirected to my work and my relationships. My first reaction to difficulty now is to sit and marinate in it. Allow myself to feel it. And whatever comes next, roll with it. Meaning if I need to cry and check out of life for an hour - so be it. If I have to take a walk and call my BFF to vent. So be it. If I fill 10 journal pages processing it out of my mind so I can get back to work. On it. But resisting or fighting is no longer an option.

Manage Energy

Time has started to blur for me. In the past I would take pride on my time management skills and how efficient I believed myself to be with my time.  With the onslaught of complexity in my life and one difficulty after another, I realized that it was not my time that needed managing, it was my energy. Really getting judicious around what, how and who I spent energy on would prove to be one of the biggest actions to help me during my tough time. Work tasks have become more organized and intentional. Personal interactions have really focused on people who lift me and feed my soul. I have not been the friend I used to be in this season because I have very little margin. Replenishment activities have been come very important.  My energy now is almost this imaginary tank next to me and I can look at it and see when it's running low. Yoga and Pilates fuel me. Radical self care trips out of town fuel me. Self care rituals locally fuel me. I now actively seek out conversations that raise my energy and refill the tank before it empties. I also allow others to help me. 

Enlist Help

I struggle asking for help. It is has never been a strong suit of mine and this prolonged tough season is the thing that finally broke me. This is a new thing for me in the last 30 days. The 703 days of this tough season found me pushing through exhausted, irritable and feeling alone even with people literally begging me to help.

What can I do?

Most days, I dread that question. I don't need anyone to help me. I'm an oldest child. I run my own business. I help people run their businesses. Stopping to think about how people could help me was literally freezing me up; rendering me immobile. Local friends asked. Friends from across the country asked. Most often I brushed folks off with - "you can pray, thanks." But then I realized how lazy that was of me. I am separating and moving forward as a single mom after 16 years in a couple. There is a SHIT ton of stuff people can do. I just needed to get out of my head and stop the jerk reactions. As the new month started, I vowed not to answer right away - because I'd found that every time someone asked me to help, within a day or two afterwards something did come up that I could use extra hands or brain power around. The pause.

Instead of my usual retort - I thanked people and said, "there is nothing now but I will keep you in mind if something comes up." Not only did "something come up", I also started to notice things I just did unconsciously that others could help me with. So I got help moving a couch. Picking peaches. Making meals. Rides for my kids.  Many people offer and are willing to help. Most often it's us that stand in the way.

I have come to believe that my "tough season" is no longer a "tough season" but my new normal. And I know the action I am taking is equipping to be successful in this new era of my life.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Quadrennial Reminder of My Own Quest For Excellence

With just 5 days left of competitions for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, I am already dreading the the end of the Summer Games. I love the Olympics. Ever since I can remember, I have loved the games. I remember vividly watching over the years and this year marks the 20th anniversary of my special accomplishment of working at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. This year also reminded me of something I'm not so sure I'd recognized before... my absolute love of excellence on display.

I was a tomboy jock girl for as long as I can remember. I loved all sports and all things about sports - playing, watching, coaching. I was a competitive tennis player from age 10 - college. I played other intramural sports at two universities. I've coached a sport I love and know well but could not play very well. I've coached other sports because there was a need. I started my career in sports marketing before it was a "thing" and major college track in the early 90s. I watch sports from around the world and have for many years now. I am a sports fanatic and I partially blame that on losing my mom and female influence early in life and growing up in a sports town like Chicago.

It make sense that a woman like me would love the Olympics. And I never questioned or thought much of my love of the Olympics as it just seemed natural for someone who loved sports as I do.

Until now.

This year, as I am recalibrating my life and examining EVERYTHING I ever thought about myself - I came to a new and exciting discovery. It is not only sports that attracted me to the Olympic Games all these years. It is the quest for excellence.

Mark Spitz
Serena Williams
Mary Lou Retton
Greg Louganis
Dominique Dawes
Michael Johnson
Usain Bolt
Marion Jones
Bruce Jenner
Carl Lewis
Nadia Comenci
Michael Phelps
Simone Biles
Simone Manuel

Those names ring in my ears long after I've been exposed to their excellence because seeing them on the world stage is a reminder of what happens when you excel at your craft. When all the years of practice come down to that moment in time when you exceed even your own expectations - it is glorious. It is inspirational. It's also been my main attraction to the games even beyond my love of sports.  

From a very young age, I have had an insatiable thirst for excellence and the Olympics was one of my quadrennial and tangible reminders of that. Of course, we get to view excellence in many ways, shapes and forms but not quite in the same way as the Olympics. Literally, the whole world stops to celebrate the individual and collective accomplishments of these athletes and their drive for excellence in their respective crafts. And while, I never believed in my own sports abilities enough to pursue excellence there - I have pursued excellence in my work throughout my life.

And at the tender age of 44, I'm starting to see the results of that pursuit manifesting in my business and the work we are doing to change the world, one relationship at a time.

Thank you Rio 2016 for that great reminder and new found inspiration for excellence.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

All Government Is Local: Three Ways To Direct Your Political Energy After This Presidential Election

It was not missed on me during the star studded third night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention that local government was a key theme.

I have always believed and lived my favorite truth - All government is local. From my earliest days, helping a neighbor and local single mom in Chicago Heights as she ran for our school board to my first "official" campaign work on the late Cook County Board President John Stroger's first campaign as an adult - I have invested my time, talent and energy in supporting local government. In my late 30s, I ran for and won local municipal office which led to building a profitable business transforming local government agencies throughout the Midwest and soon to be West Coast.

We heard from at least three different people the importance of local government.

Tim Kaine who started as a city councilman in Richmond, VA.

Sharon Belkofer a local school board member in part due to the encouragement of our President.

President Barack Obama urged us to vote, not just for president but for mayors, judges and other local offices.

Our current Democratic VP pick. The mourning mother of an American veteran. My favorite President.

Every four years, I see folks get energized and involved and I would urge you to find a home for that energy come November.

Want a third party movement? Look no further than what has happened the last 8 years with the Tea Party. Their power has not prevailed on a national stage but one city council, school board and state representative seat at a time. I've watched them progressively take over school and park boards across the midwest which has led to them gaining governors mansions in the last two years. It did not happen overnight. It did not happen on a grand stage. It happened in the elections no one pays attention to.

And guess what? You are way more affected by who runs your cities and counties than you EVER will be affected by who sits in the White House.

I will pick up the baton where Tim, Sharon and the POTUS left off the other night. I urge you to join me in transforming local government. There are three practical things you can do before the next presidential cycle to impact local government.


Vote in November. Educate yourself and vote next Spring. Typically, the local elections right after the presidential election year have the lowest turnout. Start in November, learn about your local races. Get to know your current local officials and the people who want your vote at the next cycle. Between this presidential race and the next one in 2020, there will be races each Spring and each November electing local, county and state offices and judicial seats .  Start now getting yourself educated so you can vote.


Volunteer in a campaign. The national campaigns typically are more organized than local campaigns and are excellent conduits for connection to local races in the future. Volunteer for a commission. Do you care are about parks and recreation? Join a local parks committee. Do you care about the environment? Volunteer for a county commission. Education? A school board commission or committee. My guess is any interests you may have, there is a local government committee or commission you can lend your talent to.  Introduce yourself to the local officials and make yourself available. Many times when vacancies occur - there are never enough qualified applicants for official to appoint. Volunteer your time and talent to make your community better.


This a big ask and certainly worth its own post. But I'd be remiss if I did not take a moment to encourage you to put your talents to work in your local community. You'd be surprised at who's running your local government agencies. Take time to learn about the issues your town or city or school board is facing. Take stock of your talents and what you can do to add value to the team that is already there. When I ran for local office the first time in 2009, I specifically ran because had two things to offer our board  - strategic thinking and diversity. Our almost 60 year old village had 5 males and one female running its board. The combined average age at that time was close to 60 and there were no people of color.  Winning that seat and bringing the average age down almost 9 years and adding the richness of being a young family with less than 10 years living in the village was a breath of fresh air. Combined with my over 19 years in corporate marketing and strategy - I was a rock star within 18 months.  Local government agencies need new perspective. And they need people willing to contribute their talents versus running because they are mad about an issue.

Since my time as an elected, I have eagerly served on state commissions for the last two Illinois governors and recently accepted an appointment to the City of Evanston's parks and recreation board. This in addition to expanding my company's reach in transforming local government agencies across this state and Minnesota.  My public service led to my business. You never know where your public service will lead you.

Please do me a favor and  don't leave your energy for our democracy in the presidential voting booth this November. Take it to your local city, county or state government agency.

Trust me. They need you.

Monday, July 11, 2016

My Work, My Refuge

Who knew that my tiny company and its powerful work would actually be my respite from the world?

As the United States imploded last week under the weight of the #AltonSterling, #PhilandoCastile and #DallasTragedy, strangely, I was ok. Not that numb, I'm checking out pseudo "ok," but a calm abiding peaceful I'm ok.

As a mom of a gentle giant 11 year old Blaxican boy, how could I possibly be at peace with all that is going on at this point in history?

As a Black American woman and member of a segment of the US population who are also profiled, harassed and killed by police at a similar rates to our male counterparts albeit not as wide publicized,  what could be tempering fear in me?

My work. My day-to-day influence and impact on the very stories that plaster our headlines and bring us to our knees. My unrelenting commitment to transform local government. My objective to change the world, one relationship at a time. All this is literally saving my sanity and keeping me going.

With over 40% of my work focused on local government agencies and municipalities making up a great majority, my work gave me peace last week.  You see, I had the chance to speak to a mayor and few park district executive directors about what's going on in society and how our work to transform workplace cultures in government agencies is more relevant than ever. Police departments and other local government policing agencies are impacted by my work. With every conference and workshop presentation to local government agencies, me and my team are tackling bias, inconsistency and lack of inclusive repeatable processes that make for more inclusive workplaces that lead to more inclusive communities.

Close to 35% of my work is with nonprofit agencies and that also gives me peace. One project I'm working on currently, gives me the chance to assist students in the Oakland public schools and particularly boys of color with understanding and leveraging their strengths and talents. On August 3, I will lead two groups of scholars on the beginning of what I hope will be a life long journey of building on their strengths and formulating their stories versus the stories society may tell them about themselves. By reaching these students at this age - I was over 20 when I first discovered and was tuned into to my strengths - my work is combating the real societal bias against these students by empowering them with their truth.

Waking up Friday and jumping back on calls with my clients, not only soothed my broken heart from all the turmoil, but it gave me the satisfaction that I am contributing to a new narrative in this country both on the micro level with the scholars and on the macro level with my government agency leaders.

Even as I wade through my own personal challenges and often need respite from my own life - I am so grateful I've built a business that provides that for me personally and as a member of our hurting country.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How The GOAT Impacted 8 Year Old Me And Changed Me Forever

The way I remember the Greatest of All Time

2016 is my year of recalibration.

And as I reflect upon the death of boxing legend and humanitarian Muhammad Ali at the age of 74 over the weekend, it is clear why these happenings are occurring. This second iconic death within a 90 day period is an acute reminder of the origins of my own personal strength.

Like many Black kids of the 70s, Muhammad Ali was my hero. Without question.

At a time when Black American heroes were few and often soft spoken (think Arthur Ashe - another hero to me as a actual tennis player), Muhammad Ali was different and captured my imagination from the first time I saw him on the small screen.

He was outspoken.

He was fierce.

He was confident.

And those were traits I'd never seen in Black people in my own real life circles.  I remember him most from 1979 as it was a tumultuous year for me personally. It was the year of his "retirement and comeback." There was the Lyle Alzado fight and countless replays of many of his most controversial moments to date at that time.

I remember not being able to peel my eyes away as replays of his anti-Vietnam commentaries were played again and again. Or seeing him talk enormous amounts of trash about his opponents and his legacy.

I also remember driving by his south side Chicago home and being shown where he once lived. It was sort of a mecca for me and family members who took us there. Hearing stories from family members and friends who'd run into him or witnessed him with his kids on the south side of Chicago riveted me. And it was not the riches or fame that attracted me to Ali and his story.

It was sheer bravery to be who he was and boldly speak what was on his heart; To be proud of his heritage,  his people and to speak out about what we suffered in this country.

1979 was the year I was sexually abused by a family member. It was year of a crazy Chicago snow storm and the year I first listened to Prince.

And while I'd never thought much of it before the passing of both Prince and Muhammad Ali these last few months, it was the year I figured out that I have a voice. A strong and powerful voice that started raising and asserting itself that very year despite what the world around me told me.

I was brave.

I was powerful.

I was fierce.

And I felt that way then at least in part because of seeing Muhammad Ali stand up again and again at a time when I felt like laying down. To this day, I live, lead and love fiercely. How grateful am I for reminder of the great life and legacy of Muhammad Ali as this reflection is fueling my growth into the next phase of my journey.

Rest in power, Muhammad Ali - you especially impacted this Chicago girl and woman she's grown to be. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Restoring Fatih When What You See Sucks

A new day sun means you have a chance to restore your faith

The last 4 weeks have challenged every positive mass I have in my body.

First, Prince died.

Then a few weeks later, my family moved. And while it was a planned and prepared for quick move across town, it about killed me both physically and emotionally. The grief it emoted about my pending divorce was debilitating.

Finally, I discovered this week that a super precious piece of jewelry is gone. Don't even remember the last time I saw it before the move. It was significant for many reasons among them, it was meaningful by who purchased it for me and the thoughtfully constructed additives each year since I got it for my birthday in 2014. 

I was at my end in puddle of tears, rage, anger, sadness and grief this week.

But I got up the next day and had to face my life all over again and here's what I did to make that happen:

Find Something Good

Gratitude is the cure for everything. In the midst of my worst day this week that really culminated a crappy string of days and weeks, I found something to be grateful for. It was small. But it was significant. It was a reminder that our lives are compiled of moments and while I am in the midst of a string of really crappy moments - I can find some good. You can, too. You must seek it. Look diligently for the one positive thing that occurs in the midst of turmoil. You can build from that.

Focus on Your Purpose

I have a purpose on earth. And I am living it. Even on the super hard days. When I feel sad, angry or despondent, I remember that I am here to drive better relationships. I am here to inspire others to be real - with themselves and those they do life with.  Even in my pain, there is purpose. When you find your purpose, be sure and use it as fuel. This week I was able to impact people with my talents in the midst of deep heartache. Last week was not different. Or the week before that. Focusing on my purpose makes this season less treacherous.

Know It's A Season

I've been saying that to myself for over a year now and I don't believe it any less. We cannot be down forever. I have no idea when my season will turn but I know it will. I have been on earth 44 years  and have seen my life in cycles and seasons since my mother's passing when I was 4 years old. I remember vividly great seasons and really desolate seasons throughout my life. This is no different. And while I have no idea when it will change and be a calm and peaceful season, I have faith that one day I will look back on this season and be better for it. Personally and professionally.

If you are like me, in the midst of a seemingly never ending tough season of life. Take heart.  Find something to be grateful for, focus on your purpose and be confident that it's a season that will indeed pass.

Friday, April 22, 2016

My Life As A Non-Conformist Began With A Prince Song

The immortal Prince in one of my favorite eras of his life.

Prince was the epitome of non-compliance and it was his music that inspired my non-compliant spirit starting at the age of 8. I used to sing "I Wanna Be Your Lover" at the top of lungs.  Most often signing with no recourse until my dad heard me one day and asked me if I knew what I was singing. At age 8, I clearly had no idea what "I wanna be the only one you come for, yeah" really meant.  My dad told me he did not want to hear me singing that "garbage" ever again, with little explanation why.  So I remember nodding and waiting until he went to work to scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs and dared our babysitter to stop me.  No matter what anyone said to me, I was listening to that song and all the others from that man with a one word name. And non-conformity has been a brand attribute of mine ever since. Here's the three reasons I will forever be grateful that Prince touched my life.

Rules As Suggestions

Prince was known to push the limits and saw rules and regulations as suggestions only. His life overall is a walking example of nonconformity but let's just focus on his music. Every time someone put a label on his music, he reinvented his sound. He even took the same music and made it cross every genre imaginable and some say he had his own genre altogether. Even the way he executed in the music business was unheard of. From being the youngest producer at Warner Bros at the age of 19 to changing his name to protect his copyrights to releasing music independently of a label long before the internet, Prince busted up every rule of the music industry and wrote his own. Clearly, there were some constraints thrust upon him throughout his music career but his ingenuity transcended each and every one.

His Own Brand Of Black

Prince is my perfect example of how to be Black. Stop for a minute and look at his style and the way he presented himself to the world. Seeing all the images of him the last 24 hours reminded me of how he literally lived his life as Black man like no other. At the time he entered the music scene, most Black artists had a look and sound that was familiar and  "trademarked Black." Enter this light skinned, petite bodied man from Minneapolis who busted the paradigm for what Black music was and what a Black artist could do. Then he elevated his story with his movie Purple Rain and told a different view of Black life that was not being told widely at that time. I cannot recall anyone ever questioning his Blackness. I mean, he began his 2007 Super Bowl performance in a do-rag.  But as a light skinned, gender bending, multiple genre rock star, he elevated what Black in America could be and pushed  and challenged traditional Black narratives daily. Until his death, he continued to drive issues that impacted Black lives all while living his own story of Blackness.

Clearly He Loved Himself

If there was ever a person who accepted himself fully, I have to believe it was Prince. The sheer courage to be who he was at all times was unprecedented. Again, the imagery we have witnessed across the almost 40 year career is a self-love display. Interview after interview, I've watched him talk about love as a centerpiece of life. His documented generosity to countless charities uplifting those without a voice. His political activism - both the subtle and outspoken - for decades against injustice. Love for others, especially marginalized people, only comes from a deep sense of acceptance and love of oneself. Prince lived his life fully and wholly accepting of who he was which made him a gracious and genuine lover of others.

As I reflect on my life- especially now during a particularly tough personal season - each and every one of those attributes of Prince have permeated my life as well. It only upon his passing that I realize how much he influenced those traits in me throughout my life. Prince lit the way for this non-compliant, fearless leader. Thank you. May you rest in Power.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My Journey To My New Normal - You Coming?

So anyone who has known me for any length of time knows I do my best to follow the simple instructions of that post-it at the top of this post. And that is why it's especially vexing to live in our Facebook fairytale world these days.

Take this past Sunday for instance.

Easter Sunday.

Resurrection Sunday.

Christians and even many non-Christians kept a string of happy pastel colored photos in my stream all day. No ill feelings for that. I am one of those folks is happy when people I love are happy. But I'm also one of those folks who feel sad and feel deeply when my people are sad. But it's a fine line these days for the extended tribe. Of course those who are close to me are intimately aware of what's happening. In my desire to live authentically, I don't struggle with sharing my current state of affairs openly and regularly. But in our social media highlights versus day-to-day living, it is tough to keep it real.

How do you express sadness without evoking pity in our Facebook era?

How do you keep it real about where you are without bumming everyone out?

Well right along with all those other things that Sunday was to masses, it had been a very special day to me in the past. Sunday March 27 marked what would have been the 15 anniversary of my marriage that crumbled under the weight of depression that swallowed up my partner of 15 years late last year.


I am not hiding or hesitating to state that every chance I get.

I am sad.

I am mourning as are my two kids.

It's natural and normal to feel this way but it's whole 'nother thing to post about it. But I'm hoping to change that. There is dignity in opening mourning your losses. People learn how to love you when allow yourself to be broken before them. And we are broken.

But like the hope that is in the hearts of those who actually celebrate Easter and Resurrection - we all know that there can be no Sunday morning without a Friday afternoon. Trauma. Sadness. Death. All necessary to rise again. Well that space between the death and the resurrection is where we are living these days in my house. We are doing the best we can under the circumstances we have.

We could not get all dressed up take photos of our holiday happenings because it was all we could do to make our food and smile and be with each other this year. And when I finally looked at the calendar at the end of the day and saw that it was a day we used to celebrate with fervor, the sadness overcame me and I had to share it.

My relationship with reality is too solid to fake it for the masses. So we must endure these days and this pain to have our resurrection as a family in its new form. We are gonna talk about it and share it and hope that others will join us on our journey to our new normal.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Little Token, Big Value

The platinum band I bought myself Mother's Day 2000

Little token.

Big value.

16 years ago this coming Mother's Day when I was neither a wife, girlfriend, love interest and definitely not anyone's mother - I bought myself a platinum diamond ring.

I was a few months ahead of my self-imposed Spanish exile, planning and saving for my move to Spain set to commence that fall.

I remember vividly as I saw friends and family after that purchase some of the questions:

Who bought that for you?

Why are you wearing it on that finger?

What's up with that, Denise?

Wow, is there something you want to tell us?

I faced those questions with the same answer over and over.

I bought it for me.

Because I wanted it.

Because I'm worth it.

At that time, all my closest friends had married and were starting families. Most of my family had written me off as a career gal "who couldn't keep a man." And I'd started to doubt I'd ever find love.

I was 28 years old.

But then I saw that band. And it meant to world to me to gift it to myself. I had found love... me loving me. Me accepting me and where I was in life. I was about to embark on an adventure living in Europe - Spain to be exact if not then, when? Would I wait for a man to buy me a platinum diamond ring? With no prospects in sight - that seemed absurd. So I did it.

And almost 16 years later this ring does for me MORE than it did for me then. As I am transitioning from married woman to single woman, my finger was bare for a few months. It felt naked and weird after 15 years "belonging" in my marriage. Then I looked in my jewelry chest and pulled out this band.

I wear it today with much pride. I love me today WAY more than the me who bought this ring. I am even more confident of what I have to offer and who I am. And that purchase which at the time seemed bold and big - really speaks to me on my new journey of recalibration.

This little token has big value and is a reminder of the great woman I am even in the midst of great change.

My 28 year old self was wise enough to foreshadow what my 44 year old self needed.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Carly Fiorina Is the Poster Child for Sexism In America

The Carly Fiorina I Knew And Loved back in 2007
Now that Carly Fiorina has suspended her quest for the White House, I am compelled to let y'all know that until she ran for president, I was a huge fan. As a woman and ferocious leader, I followed Ms. Fiorina's career as she ascended in the tech field as it coincided with my own corporate journey. I ate up any and all stories of women defying corporate norms and Carly certainly fit the bill. I even had the blessing and pleasure to meet her at the Willowcreek Association's Global Leadership Summit over the years as she had participated after being on the faculty for the first time in 2007.

The fact that a women this brilliant has never had another shot at CEO at a Fortune 500 company tells us all we need to know about sexism in America. Again, I do not want to talk at all about her run for the GOP nomination for president. I just want to talk about how she got one shot at CEO and that's it.

That would never happen to a man. Surely, men fail at leadership at some point in their careers. The difference is they don't usually have to pay for it the rest of their lives. Since her forced resignation from HP in 2005, she has yet been given another chance to lead. Sure, she's battled and won a fight with cancer, buried a child and run unsuccessfully for the US Senate and President but she has not been offered another chance to lead a company and I find that very telling.

You may argue, "she wasn't very good"  or "She ran that company in the ground" and my response is so what. Many men do the same and get lots of chances to redeem themselves in new environments with different tools. The fact that this woman who led one of our country's most successful tech companies during a tremendous time of change and innovation in the sector has never been tapped again tells us all we need to know about how Corporate America treats its smart, fierce women leaders. And I know this first hand after a 19 year career there before I started my business.

We have to do better. The real reason Carly Fiorina has been lost in politics the last few years is because Corporate America gave her the collective finger after the HP debacle and won't allow her to move on beyond her mistakes. And she made many. But she deserved another chance. Her peers got 'em.

And while I think her journey took her places politically I can never support, I will staunchly defend her business record and say that she is a picture of what needs to change in Corporate America.

Monday, February 8, 2016

3 Reasons My Normally Beyonce Ambivalent Self Is Here For Her Today

Beyonce and her Black Panther Inspired Back Up Dancers at Super Bowl 50
This year's hangover from Super Bowl 50 has nothing to do with food or drink. America is hung over from the halftime show that starred Coldplay featuring Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

Specifically, the Beyonce performance coming on the coat tails of the new single and video, Formation, that she dropped Saturday on Super Bowl eve.

In her Michael Jackson inspired outfit and with her Black Panther inspired back up dancers, she made a statement that many are not feeling the day after. Former New York Mayor and Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Guiliani led the Fox News onslaught Monday morning following numerous Twitter rants overnight. Many in my feed were on both sides of the battle lines - there was the pro-Bey folks who loved every second, every message and were spilling their love from the night before. There were also the folks who could not stand the very sight of her in yet another no pants performance.

What surprised me the most were the folks I know both Black and White who privately messaged me to inquire about my enthusiasm and support for Beyonce's Formation video and subsequent Super Bowl 50 performance. I cannot tell you how many text and private message conversations I had about Bey in the last few days. Because I am a woman of influence and inquiring minds want to know, let me give you the top 3 reasons I am here for Beyonce in her latest iteration:

The Business Savvy Mind of Beyonce Blows Me Away

I am not a Beyonce fan. Nor have I been a hater of Beyonce. I did not ever truly understand the hype but I've never actively talked against her. I may own one or two songs that were on Grammy compilations.  I have been ambivalent at best to the whole Beyonce mystique. But what I have observed over the last 36 months, from a Black business woman's perspective is pure magic. She has used her influence to change the way records, singles and videos are promoted and many have followed her lead. She's figured out how to have all of the WORLD talking about her for the last 48 hours and that will most certainly impact her bottom line when she does drop the album to accompany the Formation single. Her talents are many and even the liabilities she's turned into positives. She utilizes social media to build and drive her brand like no other and again, as an entrepreneur, I'm taking notes. Make no mistake. Using your Super Bowl cameo to drop the dates on your new world tour without a new album takes chops. Big ones.

Using Her Influence In Her Own Way

The number one point I was challenged on was,  would I want my daughter to follow the lyrics of her Formation song/video.  My answer to that is a flat out no. But not for the reasons you think. I say no because my daughter has many many things influencing her none of which are the experiences Beyonce describes in her song. I grew up with some exposure to those references and can relate to them to a certain degree but my daughter is not and that is ok. The second point was about the statements of the video and then the performance. Using imagery from the Katrina disaster. Black Panther back up dancers. REALLY? I see her referencing those things to keep focus on issues facing the Black community today. It has been a very exhausting time to be Black in America for a while. And with folks always commentating on Black celebrities and how they should or should not use their influence, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. She's damned because she did. And I don't agree. I am glad Beyonce is a Black woman in America with a choice for how she tells her story. Listen to the lyrics of Formation. She vividly recollects on a Black southern experience that has clearly impacted her and even as she's ascended to the upper echelons of our nation's wealth, she has not forgotten her roots and wanted to remind us. This weekend. On a world stage. No argument from me. Even if her story is very different from mine.

There is No One Black American Narrative

Do I love the blond braids and Red Lobster reference in her song? No. Hell no. It is not my experience as a Black woman. But I am not here to police the narrative she is pushing. "I am disgusted by what she pushes and it's everything that is wrong with Black America" was a quote in two different private discussions I've had in the last 48 hours. A quote. From Black people and White people I know and I had to reject it. Not because I don't agree. Believe me, I get their contempt. I am so very sensitive to "the narrative" and it does bother me some that we keep perpetuating many of the narratives that have hurt us. But again, that is not my call. Just as I am furious when people attempt to tell me I'm not "Black enough" or shit like "Black people don't eat candy corn," I do not and cannot do the same to other Black folks' narratives. So what if I can't related personally to many of the references that Beyonce speaks of - my military veteran aged (read older than most of my friends with their baby boomer/Black Panther influenced parents)  dad taught me so differently, Yeah, I do have hot sauce in my purse but that's about it.  Big hairy deal. Beyonce's Black is hers and mine is mine. Does it irk me that hers is more universally accepted than mine? HELL YEAH. Everyday. But I will not condemn nor criticize her for having a stage and using it to tell her story, her way. I do it every chance I get. And trust me, my stages are getting bigger by the day.

So I AM here for Beyonce in this moment. She's is using her business mind, her influence and her story to make waves and drive discussion. That is what I do every single day.

Deal with it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

3 Steps To Practicing Radical Self-Care

Tough to give what you don't have, practice radical self-care

Radical self-care is critical and should be at the top of your to-do list every day.

What is radical self-care? My definition is the unshakable, nonnegotiable regular care of oneself. This looks different from person to person but ultimately is rooted the belief that in order to love and care for others in our lives, we must, first, love and care for ourselves. Radically.

I already know there are many reading this whose eyes have rolled to the back of their heads and are barely hanging into this third paragraph, but stay with me. Yes, you've heard this before. No, it's not a joke. Many of you already know this but have struggled to implement any form of regular self-care in your life. You cringe in guilt at the very thought or you throw your hands up not believing you can ever find the time to do anything for just you. You can begin a journey to radical self care and there are three critical things you must do to initiate and create space in your life for radical self-care.

Start Small

In order to grow to radical self-care as I defined, you have do baby steps self-care first. It is indeed impossible to dive into "radical anything"  if you don't have the basics first. Add something that you alone enjoy to your calendar each week. It can be a phone date with a friend. Coffee at your favorite cafe alone. 20 minutes of reading time. We all get 10,080 minutes in every week we live, you can carve out 30 of those to yourself starting right away. And don't forget to add it to your calendar and you get bonus points for putting it on a shared calendar. One of the most important ways to keep the commitment is to write it down and make others in your life see it's importance.

Build On Your Start

Once you've gone 6 straight weeks of a small commitment, you must up the stakes in some way. Again, this is entirely up to you but it must a) be more than your initial step at self-care and b) be shared with an accountability partner.  Now, pick your partner wisely. Don't call your flaky sister or flimsy friend who won't remind you or will indulge your excuses for missing your self-care. You need to call the person you don't want to tell because that's precisely who you need to push you. Remember, we all get 365 days in a year, so taking one full day or more per month is not unreasonable. And especially if you are building that day or two onto 30 minutes of weekly self-care. It will not feel like a big leap nor will you feel any guilt. In order to keep the momentum, you have to build on the initial self-care routine which will set you up for what's next.

Go Big

Identify something big you want to do for yourself and do it. This could be an overnight stay alone in a hotel.  Or this could be a weekend trip with your girlfriends or a guys weekend in Atlantic City but it must be big and follow your building stage.  Once you do this once, it will get easier and you will get really good at finding ways to up your self-care game in between big self-care events.  The biggest bonus of going big, is when life throws you big curves, you can combat it with radical rest and respite. Without question, my habitual radical self-care has made my latest valley not seem so deep. I was also able to activate courage to raise my self-care game to the need in my life and I'll be enjoying a weekend away, just me, very soon to fuel me through a tough season.

Taking care of yourself well is not optional, it's imperative.

What will you do today to start your journey to radical self-care?

Monday, January 11, 2016

When's The Last Time You Bet On You?

All in - when was the last time you were "all in" for yourself

I'm heading to Las Vegas in a few weeks for a trip that is very much part of my 2016 Recalibrate agenda. The process of exploring the opportunity, weighing my options and finally making my move was not very different than previous bets I'd placed on myself but this time the stakes were higher and it felt different.

When was the last time you bet on yourself? You know, all in, all or nothing -  100% betting on you.

I've come to realize that for most people it is not very often at all and I want to change that. Here are three reasons to go all out and bet on you in 2016.

You Are Worthy

I have no idea what's brewing in your mind. A relationship change? A business idea? A promotion at your job? A move across country or the world? Whatever it is, I want to tell you are worthy of that "thing" you want. You are deserving of the love you desire. Your idea needs air. Your company needs your perspective. You should see that place you've dreamed about. Too many times we talk ourselves out of our true desires because we don't feel we are capable, deserving or worthy of such a big change. Some of us can barely form our lips to say it for fear of what others may say in response further cementing our sense of inadequacy about our desires. Know that the nagging in your mind and spirit is your indication that this is important and that you should pay attention. Give yourself permission to imagine yourself in your dream, whatever it is.

People Want To Help You

This is a tough one to digest for all types. Think about it. If you are a natural collaborator - most likely you are always willing to help and contribute to the ideas of others. And if you are a disruptor, like me, you often go alone and the idea of others helping makes you laugh. When you bet on yourself and talk about your dream, you ignite passion and ideas in others, ideas to help you. This also applies for tough challenges you have to face; when you allow others to share the burden, it really is lighter. Sharing my journey of how depression wrecked my marriage and the consequences of that wreckage has been an amazing experience. From the outpouring of offers of help and encouragement to the cries of camaraderie of others suffering now, I don't regret sharing my pain. We must reach out and invite others into our dreams and our journey.

Snowball Effect

We all know what happens to a snow ball as it rolls down a hill. It gains both material and momentum.  The same occurs when you bet on yourself. Too scared to bet on yourself for that Big Hairy Audacious Goal? Then bet on yourself small today. On anything. Trust you gut. Give yourself the "ok" on little things. As I look back on when I started betting on myself, it was a long time ago. Since I was a teenager, I have always stepped out and bet on me. Some times it worked out and every time I learned. Lately, in the last 8 years, as my kids grew and needed me in different ways, I returned some focus to me, my career and my deepest desires to lead. Each of those small bets led me to bigger bets and in a few years quite possibly the biggest career bet I've ever made. But it is not an isolated thing. I've now been betting on me -both personally and professionally consistently. And the snow ball effect is real. Stay tuned if you don't believe me.

So I ask again, when was the last time you bet on you? When did you last push through your fear and go after something or someone you wanted? If it was longer than yesterday,  you have some work to do.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Time To Recalibrate

Every year since I started Relationships Matter Now, I've picked a theme to focus myself and the business around. Originally, it was simply an exercise in gratitude to the universe for allowing me the opportunity to work for myself. Then, each year after 2012, I have carefully crafted my theme based on both happenings and desires in my work and personal life.

This year is no different.

Perhaps for the first time since I started the themes, my personal life is impacting the theme way more than my professional life. 2016 will certainly usher in a completely different personal life for me. While business has been phenomenal, my marriage has not faired as well and will be coming to an end. If you know me at all, you know how huge a shift for me this will be. It will require a complete rebranding and recalibration of my very being.

Parallel to that, I stepped out of public office in July 2015. The very inspiration for my business was my elected office role in Lake in the Hills, Il. My love and desire to serve the public has not diminished but I've had to recalibrate how I do that. Former IL Governor Pat Quinn appointed me to a statewide business council and I was recently tapped by IL Comptroller Leslie Munger to serve in another capacity on a statewide advisory board. Again, these opportunities are pushing me to recalibrate my public service.

My motherhood is changing. Clearly, motherhood shifts and moves as your children grow but nothing prepares you to face motherhood alone when you've banked on and worked hard on a marriage partnership to bring the kids to "completion." With a high school freshman and fifth grader and a pending separation, my motherhood will need recalibration.

My business is adding an employee. Until now, we've grown only with project based contractors. 2016 sees me making the commitment to a dedicated team member and it's freaking me out to have "people" overhead expenses. I need to quickly recalibrate my thoughts around this or I'm gonna waste all the productivity gains this new addition will afford me and the business.

Dictionary defines calibrate, the root word of recalibrate as  - to plan or devise (something) carefully so as to have a precise use, application, appeal, etc.

Recalibrating my womanhood,  in light of moving from wife back to single woman.
Recalibrating my public service.
Recalibrating my motherhood
Recalibrating my business.

I am excited for 2016.