mourning

When the shadow this global pandemic began darkening the skies, I actually said these words out loud: “I hope the only thing I have to mourn when this is over is all the money I’ve lost in my 401(k).”

These words shame me now. I’m ashamed of the ignorance and arrogance and privilege they imply. You don’t mourn money.

I know the agony of mourning.

You mourn when the world has lost a light — a father, a husband, a brother, a friend. My friend.

In my darkest hours — when I was in mourning for my own father — the people who love me ran to me. They embraced me. They carried me. They rebuilt me.

And now, the tragic hour has come for me to be that person. It’s my turn to run. To embrace. To carry. To rebuild. The world has lost a father, a husband, a brother, a friend. Every instinct screams at me: find a way to ease the pain of this shattered family.

And yet I remain sheltered in place. Shattered by loss. Mourning in isolation. Grieving in solitary vigil.

This is our new normal.

Play It Again.

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An elderly lady of failing health was moving out of her house. The octogenarian had an old piano, and she couldn’t take it with her. She had tried giving it away, but there were no takers. It was big, heavy, dusty, old, slightly broken and a bit out of tune. The piano was headed to the dump. My mother couldn’t bear it. She found the old piano a new home — our crowded living room. My father came home from a business trip to discover our cramped quarters now had a new, unexpected, and uninvited addition.

Inside the piano bench was a laminated piece of red paper. It had discolored a bit at the edges, and was slightly tattered. It was not much bigger than an index card. It had three words inked on it – in the careful, steady hand of a calligrapher, writing in an art deco font reminiscent of the Roaring 20s.

The words: PLAY IT AGAIN.

My mother put the red piece of paper where the sheet music would typically go – front and center on the dusty old piano. And there it sat. An invitation presented to a family where no one knew how to play – in a room that already had too many things in it.

PLAY IT AGAIN.

Sit with me. Discover the possibilities I present to you. I have outlived the skilled craftsmen who made me. I extend their gifts to every family that hosts me – generation after generation, from home to home. The complexity of my inner workings belies the ease with which I present my gifts.

PLAY IT AGAIN.

Explore the range of my scales and the depth of your patience. Acquire skill through persistence that afford you the ability to present gifts of your own – the gift of music. Give yourself this gift. Share it with others.

PLAY IT AGAIN.

A challenge. A demand. A plea.

PLAY. Play with lighthearted abandon. Play for joy – yours and those around you. Play to release frustration. Play to celebrate. Play to discover. Play in quiet solitude. Play in the raucous company of friends. Play. Just play. Always play.

PLAY IT AGAIN.

AGAIN. And again and again and and again and again. Return to the bench to continue giving – to continue receiving. Persist in the pursuit to earn greater skill and range. Endure in the journey to explore new heights, and to test your talents.

PLAY IT AGAIN.

It is the more than the battered instrument in need of repair. It is every partially explored horizon and every unfinished symphony. It is the question that was left unanswered. It is the puzzle that went unsolved.

PLAY IT AGAIN.

A challenge. A demand. A Plea.

Note: My miracle baby is applying for colleges. This was one of her essays. It’s shared here with permission. It worked. She got in. They are so so so lucky to have her. She is sunshine. She brings light into a room. She is a gift to this world. Thank you for indulging a mother’s pride. And for sharing in my joy….

Namely, to new beginnings!!!

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There is a very small number of things that I know for sure. One of them is this: to achieve excellence at work — to truly achieve your potential — you have to be in a healthy, productive work environment.

It doesn’t matter how talented you are. It doesn’t matter how hard working. It doesn’t matter how innovative, how creative, how strong. A better workplace is what brings out these things in all of us. It’s where excellence lives.

And so, it is with absolute delight that I share the news I have joined Namely, a young, innovative company that is precisely this kind of company. But more than that, Namely is helping its clients build better workplaces.

<The marketing girl in me is revving the engine, dear reader. It surely won’t be long before you hear all about what, when, where, why, and how.>

But for now, I wanted to share the news that I have joined Namely. It’s a company that has created the space for creativity and collaboration and inclusion and partnership and innovation — and joy. The joy that comes from investing your talents in work that you love, and a mission that you believe in.

To new beginnings, Namely. To new beginnings!!!

For the Love of Work

IMG_9154We’re going to talk about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world.

I love working.

I absolutely love, love, love it. I love creating things. I love collaborating with people. I love talking about what we’re building. I love helping other people see the value in it. I love figuring out how we should tell a story. I love syndicating it and getting it out there. I love figuring out who we should partner with. I love building those relationships. The list goes on and on. I just love it. I absolutely love it.

(Maybe you love your job too with the same passion. It’s just harder to remember because you haven’t had to step away from it like I did.)

Well, it just so happens that there is a market for what I’m good at.

But for the past several years I couldn’t participate in that market.

My father had Alzheimers. My octogenarian mother stood by him every step of the way. She was his care-giver. Year after heartbreaking year.

That disease tore through our family. It took power away from all of us. It left us shattered. It strained everything. Everything. It devastated all of us.

I hate Alzheimers with a burning passion.

But it gave us gifts too.

By watching my parents endure the ravages of Alzheimers, I bore witness to how deeply two people can love each other in this world.

My father’s care was at the epicenter of our lives. For years.

I helped. They needed my help. And I wanted to help. It could not have happened as they wanted without my help.

Even though I was choosing this path, so often — so very, very, very often — I craved the escape of work. I desperately wished for it. I wanted it so badly I could taste it.

But my fate (and my place, an honored place) was to be with my father through the sunset of his life. And to help my mother.

And I wanted this too. I wanted this with equal desperation.

It was a privilege.

But it had its price.

There are two people who understood what these years have cost me: my father and the love of my life.

My father’s funeral was on October 2, 2017.

There are a few things that I know for sure:

  1. The moment my father’s soul was free from the body that had trapped him, my father started opening doors for me.
  2. My father knew how much I wanted to work, and he found me a job.
  3. He worked through Demetris and Katherine and Bill and Kendall and Maili and Tim and Matt and Carolyn and Noelle and Eric and Elisa, but he got me a job.
  4. Every single day — EVERY DAY — I see signs from my father. (I’ll spare you the details because sharing them would push you from suspecting that I might be a nut job to convincing you so.)

:-)

I started on November 1, 2017, less than a month after my father’s funeral.

It all happened so fast.

I am so happy.

In addition to all the reasons I already talked about, there’s one more…

Work heals. Work soothes.

There’s a special kind of hell known only those who desperately want to work, but for whatever reason are not able to.

I get lost in work. I lose the pain we’ve endured. I lose the suffering. I lose the sadness. I lose the heartache. I lose all of that.

And I just get to practice my craft.

It is so awesome.

I am so grateful.

I am so happy.

I just wanted to share.

Thx for indulging.

:)

Mary

p.s. It was my first day outfit. I know, right? (wink, wink)

 

In my hour of grief, you ran to me.

You fed my body.

You held the pieces of my broken heart.

You lifted downcast eyes.

You chased away shadows.

You filled my hours and kept my hands busy.

When the world’s weight seemed to crash down on me, you took the burden and let me crawl out from beneath it.

You helped me find normal again.

New normal.

In my darkest hour, you ran to me.

I am forever grateful for the love that I have in my life.

Mary