You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘values’ category.

I dressed in black for work today. It matched my mood and I felt emotionally the way I did after 9/11. The flags should be lowered as after any national tragedy. The people around me were unnaturally subdued.

I did wear red and black socks, with flames. I put them on as part of my intentional choices in wardrobe: my prayer bracelets, so I’d have Julian of Norwich and Saint Francis’ prayers and my family with me; the flame socks symbolizing the burning rage I felt.

flamesock

I wore a blue pantsuit to work yesterday. When we passed a line of people at a polling place on the Muni, the stranger next to me and I chatted about looking forward to the results and how we’d both already voted. He was a Hispanic man.

After work, I gathered with good friends to watch the returns and celebrate with sparkling wine in Hillary glasses. We had hotel rooms so we could celebrate and not have to drive.

As results came in, I was saddened but not surprised to see Indiana go so heavily for bigotry and hatred. I was still optimistic until about 8:45 Pacific time. Worry won out and I lost my appetite for food and drink, and was very quickly completely sober.

The level of stress in the room was climbing, and Whisky felt it, and always more nervous around men, barked more, and I became more tense. My anger grew at the margins by which Hillary was trailing in key races – margins less than the number of votes given to 3rd party candidates in key states. I wanted to yell at the TV commentators, at something. Every time Whisky barked I was ready to snap and when I snapped at her, that just made me angrier at myself. A vicious cycle.

I was – and still am – horrified that so many people in the US could support a candidate who exemplifies the worst in us: misogyny, bigotry, racism and xenophobia. I grieve for the damage the President-elect has said he’ll do to the climate that the entire world relies on, and what that means to my nephews and their families. If that happens, it won’t be recoverable. I am heartbroken.

The damage done to the lives of those persecuted, scapegoated and demonized may be irreparable. The damage done to the Presidency and our collective reputation and the values espoused in our Constitution pale in comparison.

Finally, we could not continue to watch. I needed to be alone, so Whisky and I went home. Whisky was anxious and somewhat fearful of me, adding to my distress. I tried to sleep, and woke up multiple times, only to remember what was wrong.

I cried. When two women I know asked how to explain to their young girls that we could elect a person who thinks it’s OK to sexually assault women, and who vilifies people who aren’t white, there are no acceptable answers. A man raising twin four-year-olds with his husband, said he’d read the first thing is to tell your children you’ll keep them safe, and then reinforce the values we teach our children. I work with many people who are first and second-generation immigrants. I was emotionally fragile all day – near tears multiple times.

So, I dressed all in black for work today, except for those red flame socks. My rage has no outlet that I will allow myself to express, without sinking to the level of the President-elect, and that I will not do.

I have read what far more eloquent people have written to process the election results. I read and later watched, the leadership and caring exhibited by Hillary Clinton in her remarks today. Once again, she put service to the country above self. Once again, President Obama showed his grace and ability as a leader, exhorting us to support the President-elect.

I’m not there. Right now, I’m not sure I will ever be able to support the Executive branch while the new President-elect is in office. He’s despicable. I’m closer to The Audacity of Hopelessness from Roxane Gay, and No, Let’s Not Congratulate Him from Connie Schultz than to the speeches either Hillary or Barack made. Especially – and maybe always – what Connie wrote.

My rage still burns, but I’m working to be able to channel it productively. I won’t need to wear the flame socks to remember that. I will use the rage to forge an even more steely resolve to work on what must change.

I’m working from home today, and it’s nice to exercise at my own pace, with views of the sunrise and garden, and coffee and stollen mixed in with the stretching routine. Since my new “office” is a busy co-working space, working from home makes a nice change. I can spread out and think in peace, with my dog beside me and have music or the washing machine as background noise if I want it.

My work today made me think about what I need to do and hope to accomplish in the coming year. With the coming of 2014, I am officially making a big shift in my life – one that has been struggling to be born for at least 5 years, and likely longer. As of January 1st, I am officially in my new role with the Mission Hub organization, leading the content team for both Social Capital Markets and our Impact Hubs in San Francisco, Berkeley, Philadelphia and New York City.

My work is to connect dots about ideas and enterprises and people, both to help catalyze positive change and to enable greater impact through those connections. It is also to create programs and events that highlight those changes and impacts and powerful connections, so that others can learn about them and be inspired to join, invest and support, or be inspired to take their own initiatives to the next level.

Part working a global puzzle in space, part doing really basic blocking and tackling, the work is both intellectually and emotionally stimulating and enormously challenging, but I believe it’s the right way for me to contribute to a better world, at least for now. I am working for an expanding startup, with attendant challenges. There are more ideas than I can possibly execute on at present, particularly with a tiny team. Part of my challenge is to drive revenue so that we can grow the team and expand the impact we make. The work is a combination of ideation, working with ideas to craft programs, and execution. Some days, that means a combination of efforts that makes my head spin, as I may need to shift from talking with a thought leader in impact investing or social enterprise, and brainstorming potential content ideas, and move from there to figuring out a pro forma budget for an event.

I am working at a salary that sustains me, albeit at 1/3 what I made 5 years ago. I will continue to live without first world luxuries I’d been used to, some of which I miss dearly, particularly being able to gift travel to my family and pay for a regular cleaning service.

All that said, I am looking forward to an exciting 2014, having officially crossed a bridge in my career trajectory towards values alignment.

Here’s to a 2014 filled with making the world a better place for all!

Fathers Day had me reflecting on Dad. He’s been dead since 1995 and was gone for some time before that, because of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As the years go by, it becomes easier to forget the bad moments and tough times, but also hard to remember some of the good times, as they get further back in time.

Dad with me and the new antique clock

Dad with me and the new antique clock

I took a digital picture of this snapshot of Dad holding me as a baby in front of a Civil War era clock he was proud of (although I’m not sure Mom thought they could afford it). I have this clock, which is not currently running, and a cuckoo clock, which I keep running, although it needs to be wound twice a day. Dad loved clocks, and I enjoy them in memory of him.

Other gifts and lessons I attribute to Dad:

  • A love of hiking and fond memories of family hikes at Indiana state parks
  • Enjoyment of Gilbert & Sullivan, Mozart and other melodic music
  • An insistence on correct pronunciation of my last name (pronounced kreeger, with 2nd vowel long as in German)
  • The importance of a good set of sharp desk scissors, and knowing where they are kept
  • A love of dessert – Dad always wanted some baked good, and the more choices, the better
  • Childhood stories being read to me and my brother, including Winnie the Pooh and folk tales in dialect
  • Knowing to stand for three songs: your school song, the National Anthem, and the Hallelujah Chorus
  • Rooting for you own team is good, but not rooting against the opponent
  • Knowing what a bed warmer is on sight, after all the stops at all the historical sights along the road
  • Independent soft ice cream places are the best, even though as a kid I pretty much only wanted chocolate/vanilla swirl
  • Minnows and tiny snails and snake grass at Coldwater Lake in Michigan, while we vacationed and Dad painted during his summer break
  • Appreciation for wood grain from Dad’s woodwork and hand-rubbed linseed oil finishes
  • Being frugal about energy and water use – Dad has solar panels on the house in the 70s, always made sure we didn’t leave the lights on, and always wanted us to take “Army” showers
  • Dad in the kitchen – making steamed puddings and bread, and making home made candy canes with me one year
  • Inspiring me to look for work that I enjoy doing, because he wasn’t happy with his choices along the way.

Although Dad would have been more likely to play Sir Joseph Porter than Captain Corcoran, here’s a slight alteration to Gilbert & Sullivan to close this out:

He was the captain of the Pinafore.

And a right good captain, too.

He was very, very good, and be it understood, he commanded a right good crew.

As evidenced by some of the lessons I still recall from my youth ….

Thanks, Dad!

I am saddened by the news that Geoff Penney has died. I worked at Schwab with Geoff from 1997 until his retirement in 2004. I thoroughly enjoyed working both with and for him, and valued him so much for what I learned from him. I watched him develop as a leader, and one who was willing to share with me from his experience. Some lessons were on the order of what not to do, but many were things he coached me on in our one-on-one interactions.

Geoff was direct – sometimes abrupt – but I always knew he had good intentions, and there was never a question of where he stood on a topic. He challenged me from the start, even calling me on vacation to make sure we were aligned on something my team had to deliver for his project. Whether as a peer or my boss, he made his expectations clear, but gave me the support I wanted and room to deliver.

He clearly loved technology, and it was a joy to see him wade in to technical detail with staff at all levels, even when he was CIO. I’d see their faces light up, knowing that this very senior person valued their work.

We had our share of laughs, and experienced occasional cultural and language differences – like when he had to spend quite a bit of time describing the significance and context of the “broad, sunlit uplands” to us – necessary, in his view, for us to create our team vision.

Geoff gave me an enormously challenging assignment with the instructions to “do whatever I needed to do to make this happen, but don’t slow down”. I had the feeling he was Henry V and I was one of the soldiers headed to battle on St. Swithin’s Day during that conversation. He retired during that assignment and it was my last role at Schwab. I missed him a great deal, but learned in the years since to enjoy his annual newsletter about things he was learning and doing, and trips he and his family were taking. His version of retirement seemed to me the right way to go about it. I hope to continue learning from him.

My condolences to the whole Penney family.

A friend wrote an eloquent blog post the other day about his faith. (He’s a writer and generally eloquent. I won’t attempt to compete.) Here’s a link to his post: http://www.punkmonksf.com/blog/?p=367.
As someone who also does “the whole God thing,” this made me think, and inspired me to reflect and write about what I believe and why. I agree with what Karekin says, by the way. One of the things I believe very strongly is that no faith tradition is any more “right” than any other, assuming it is helping you to live a good life in a way that makes one a whole human and sustains self and community. I also agree that that doesn’t require a faith tradition.
My faith community helps me, and sometimes the trappings of the Christian calendar and Episcopal church help me, too. It is also helpful for me to talk to God and feel as though God is listening and helping me find answers I need.
This may or may not turn into future posts here, but I encourage you to read Karekin’s post and consider his position, and your own.
If you want another resource on this general topic, I recommend Fenton Johnson’s book, http://www.betterworldbooks.com/9780618492374-id-9780618492374.aspx.

Peace

This passage from President Barack Obama’s speech illustrates the blend of individual and collective rights and responsibilities on which our nation was founded. I personally believe that We are more important than I am, but understand that I play a critical role in the success of We.

“As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that no man or government can take away. We insist on personal responsibility, and we celebrate individual initiative. We’re not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk- takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity that the world’s ever known.

But we also believe in something called citizenship — citizenship, a word at the very heart of our founding, a word at the very essence of our democracy, the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.

We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better.

We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family’s protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes — and so is the entire economy.

We believe the little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the next Steve Jobs or the scientist who cures cancer or the president of the United States — and it is in our power to give her that chance.

We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we certainly don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules.

We don’t think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don’t think the government is the source of all of our problems — any more than our welfare recipients or corporations or unions or immigrants or gays or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles — because America, we understand that this democracy is ours.

We, the people — recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only, what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together — through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s what we believe.”

You can find the text and audio of the entire speech here: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/06/160713941/transcript-president-obamas-convention-speech

This post is dedicated to my nephews, and their generation.

Michelle Obama delivered a speech last night that reminded me of why I am so passionate about the issues in this election, and of the values that I got from my parents and grandparents, and hope to pass on to the next generation.

We get there because of folks like my Dad…folks like Barack’s grandmother…men and women who said to themselves, “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will…maybe my grandchildren will.”

So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love…because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.

So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming – or even impossible – let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation…it’s who we are as Americans…it’s how this country was built.

And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us…if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button…then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.

Mom, who started working while in high school, and put herself through Indiana University while working full time and maintaining scholarship-worthy grades. Her sister, my Aunt Barb, who spent her career working in a bank, and – like President Obama’s grandmother – saw the men she trained be promoted above her. My mom and dad, who were public school teachers, and put in long hours, both in the classroom and outside, but were committed to helping their students learn, as well as raising me and my brother, and ensuring both of us got good college educations.

I care deeply about future generations, and want them to benefit from opportunities as I did. I don’t have children, but I have three nephews, two now in college. Their grandmother and I are helping to pay for their educations, so that they won’t have debt when they graduate, as I did. Mom and I are holding open the door of opportunity that we went through, not letting it slam shut.

I also care about the world we are leaving to the next generation, and their children. How we have damaged – likely irrevocably – the environment, will be left for future generations to deal with the devastation that climate change is bringing to the US and the world. I am passionate about doing my part to bend the arc of history towards the social, economic and environmental justice needed for a sustainable future, so that I can take satisfaction that I’ve done my best for my nephews’ generation, and seven generations beyond. Michelle Obama continued:

And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights…then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights…surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.
Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country – the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.
That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, [and Elizabeth’s and Stephen’s, Eric’s, Gavin’s and Garrett’s stories] and so many other American stories possible.

Michelle Obama’s speech served for me as a reminder of what hard work and commitment look like, how they shape us, and why we need to rededicate ourselves to our commitment for justice and future generations. I am rededicated to my work. I hope you are, too.