Letter of Recommendation

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A heartfelt letter of recommendation is a gift. It’s words on a paper from someone you admire summarizing just how amazing they think you are. Everyone should have one in their back pocket just to pull out when they’re feeling the funk and stuck in the mulligrubs. It’s an adult paper equivalent of gazing upon all your Little League trophies.

I’ve recently had a mash-up of events: attending funerals, writing and receiving letters of recommendation. Professionally, I’m often asked to write letters of recommendation. Usually, it’s a student or an employee, which goes with the territory. Recently, I’ve been asked to write letters of recommendation for colleagues I adore, admire, respect and load of other chest puffing adjectives. It’s left me feeling sad and incredibly grateful to have worked with these friends that have changed my life. I feel the exact same way at funerals.

What if we put the adoration out there for everyone when they were still with us? Before they were ready to leave? Before the final goodbye? What if?

What would you say?

Who would you say it to?

I have witnessed first hand the vacuum suck of underperformance and watched some of the best people “check out”. We’re all familiar with “senior slide”. The students that check out after completing college applications, rest on their laurels and wait for graduation love to shine on them anyway.  I’ve also seen the slow decline of an extremely negative environment and the effect it has on industrious people. The workers start to check out long before they leave. You notice the little things that people don’t do anymore. The unwillingness to put in extra effort because you’ve lost the feeling that you’re aiming for the same shore and mutiny is whispered in the wind.

If you’re sick, and you know your time is limited, you start to focus on what really matters. The people that matter and how you want to spend your final weeks, days and hours. You withdraw from extraneous commitments and measure time as the valuable resource that is. We know the infallible truth that time is limited for everyone, but it’s not until the hourglass is forcibly shoved in your face do you truly acknowledge it. It’s regrettable that our best lessons are usually learned last, too late, and without do-overs.

There are some tangible ways you can turn things around. Tell the people now, today and without delay, how you feel about them, before they withdraw. Whether it’s a student, a colleague or family member. Letters of recommendation usually have a similar arc. It’s a pleasure, how you know them, what you respect and admire, sprinkled with some personal witty touches. They can be formulaic or they can be heartfelt. When you come from a place of truth and vulnerability, putting it all out there, it resonates. Good friends, great employees, and exceptional students are gifts to you and your community. Tell them how much you adore them today. Write it down and stick it in their back pocket.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Confessions from the booth…

ballotTruth: I have voted in every major election since I was old enough to vote. Confession: I haven’t known half of the candidates that were on the ballot…

Before you slip into your Judgey McJudgey pants, bear with me. I consider myself to be a reasonably informed person. I walk into every polling place with a chipper step, smiling and thanking the election judges for their service. I get into the booth and click through the president, governor, senators. Well done, me. Then, I glance down at the representatives. By the time I get to judges, soil and water conservation supervisors and county coroners, I am sweating. I have no idea who any of these people are and how in the world I am qualified to choose them. Sometimes I pick them based on how I like their names. Who is the incumbent? Why is someone running against them? Sometimes I break out eenie, meanie, miney, mo. I’m not proud of this, but I try to tell the unvarnished truth here, so there it is.

Not this year though, my friends! Much like studying for an exam, I’ve read the book beforehand. I’ve downloaded a sample ballot for my exact address and county, so I’m ready. Bring it, election of 2016. I’d like to recommend this bit of reconnaissance for any of the rest of you that have known the stall of shame at the polling place, walking out wondering who you ended up voting for. (see myballot or ballotpedia)

The presidential race has been crazy pants, but I have every intention of nailing it with the small races where I have a blank slate that needs to be filled with information. To that end, I’m proud to say I’ve been a part of a disparate group that has organized a school board candidate forum in my community tomorrow night. My vote may matter the most in this small election that will shape the educational opportunities of my children for the next four years. If “all politics are local” and “the school is the heart of any community” then spending a night to learn about your own school board candidates, mayoral candidates, and county commissioners might be a better use of time than listening to another soul- crushing hash on the future of America from popular media outlets.

Make change where you can, yourself. Start studying. Soil and water conservation supervisors, by the way? Thank you. You have helped to keep this cheeky girl’s water safe unbeknownst to me for years. Thanks for mitigating pesticide run-off. I know your names now. I’m ready to vote for you.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Piss off, Pinterest.

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I’m looking at you Pinterest, Instagram, Fakebook, and Photoshop. You’ve left me feeling a little bit LESS THAN. You’ve taken the concept of Keeping Up With the Joneses (or Kardashians, blech) to a whole new level, squared. No worries though, I’m throwing in the towel. I’ve decided I can’t keep up and am jumping off that train.

I have found my people… Pinterestfail.com “where good intentions come to die” and Celeste Barber, a hilarious Australian comedian that has recreated celebrity selfies. Take a moment and look this stuff up. Crying. Oh my gosh, these are my people.

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Have you started to feel a bit like you’re in 7th grade again looking at all these airbrushed beauties and their carefully cultivated on-line presence? You know it’s not all real, every day can’t be THAT fabulous for others, but somehow you feel left out? I didn’t love 7th grade. Did ANYONE?! And then…I remembered to laugh. I mean really, people. Life is messy, sometimes beautiful, but often funny.

I identify with Bridget Jones. Do you?  That is one Jones that I could run with. I’ve always wanted to be British, am slightly chubby, prone to failure, and we both love Colin Firth. Who doesn’t? My daughter gave me Colin Firth on a stick a few years ago on Mother’s Day. “What would be the best gift, Mom?” Colin Firth on a stick was always my answer. It remains my favorite gift of all time, but I digress.

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I think somewhere we’ve started to lose the ability to laugh at ourselves. We’ve started keeping score with others daily and thinking it’s a real thing. I fail all the time. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I often share my failures with others, because sometimes they’re hilarious. The picture of the stairs at the beginning of this post? Those are my back steps. Piss off, Pinterest. I couldn’t even get the damn window cling idea to work. I mean, really. Failure at window clings? That’s funny.

Last weekend my niece got married. I showed up to decorate her hotel suite with rose petals, battery operated tea lights, and champagne. I got patted down at the door for bringing liquor into the establishment. I had to wait with the security guard until I confirmed that I was the one paying for the room and wasn’t some deranged drunk trying to ruin someone’s wedding night. Oh my stars, was I embarrassed, but how much did my sisters laugh when I told them? Tears.

So today, tomorrow, and next week let’s all work at laughing more and judging less. Let’s try to remember we’re not in 7th grade. I don’t really care what you have as long as you’re nice to others. Piss off, Pinterest. I’ve found my lunch table and we’re absolutely freaking hilarious. Fail on, friends!

Keep sharing moxie. Sign-up for emails below so you don’t miss a post! And to my new international subscribers, welcome!!

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