Anniversary

Today, I celebrate my second full year at The Iron Yard, a team I've written about a bit here on the blog. Waking up this morning in Las Vegas, visiting our campus exactly where I was a year ago (coincidentally), my mind turned on like a lightbulb promptly at 3AM (appropriate for my lack of adaptation to the Pacific time zone). Uncontrollably eager, I felt almost exactly like I feel only one other time each year, on my birthday.

Anniversaries of any kind are particularly special to me, not because anything actually happens on those days, but they are a gentle reminder from within to stop and reflect. I'm a bit nostalgic in general, sometimes even nostalgic for things I never experienced (catch me getting a little too absorbed in a museum setting). Each year on Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement) is similar (albeit for a different purpose) in that it prompts us to look within, reflect, plan for the next year and take action on those reflections. I think we don't sit and do this enough, so I always welcome a prompted opportunity to appreciate and assess.

The Iron Yard team fully absorbed me from the beginning, and I feel just as eager today to engage entirely as I did that first day. I wasn't on a job hunt when I joined, my craft endeavors as successful as I wanted. I stumbled upon the organization on a search for a conference, and instantly fell hard for the mission and culture. Applied on a Monday, interviewed on that Tuesday, and signed offer letter by Thursday, it was as whirlwind an onboarding as it is a journey today. I'm grateful for the pace, because what I blame on my "creative mind" is a need for a life of constant stimulation and challenge. I'm a chronic procrastinator, and frequent curveballs keep me active and engaged.

I've had a couple of mentors while here, and I'm not sure I ever really had one before I joined The Iron Yard. I never quite understood what those relationships were like, or how to seek one. Luckily the opportunity to be mentored at The Iron Yard presented itself, and I feel like an entirely different person than I was two years ago, a person I know I wouldn't be without that intentional guidance. My bossy nature of the past has evolved (and continues to grow) into a more patient, empathetic approach to leadership, and I'm so grateful to see that change in myself that I'm trying to always nurture it myself. I feel unbelievably grateful that I've been able to contribute to an organization like this at such an early stage in my career, and I've been given chances I'm not sure many people get. Gratitude, that's what I feel the deepest at this anniversary.

I encourage everyone to seek mentorship; accept it when it feels right and challenges you as well. Open yourself to intentional reflection, and never sell yourself short by thinking change isn't necessary. #micdrop

Dear Laura

Laughter is one of the most genuine forms of expression; you can really feel who a person is from their laughter. It doesn't qualify for judgment, laughter is just so deeply sincere ... you can't help but revel in the intimacy of such a public act.

I'm feeling deeply the loss that one of my most dear friends experienced today, in his dear mother Laura. Although my time knowing her has been short, her impression on me was deep and instant -- her genuine nature made it easy to embrace her.

One of the first things that stand out to me when I think of dear Laura is her laughter. Her laugh was subtle and sincere, a true giggle that sent those around her into an equally unrestricted joy. Something so heartfelt is just so undeniably infectious, and you always knew that her laughter was all her. Shoulders raised, cheeks high against her eyes in innocent delight ... a giggle that always lasted a second longer than you would expect, because she just couldn't help the delight.

Once, dear Laura told me that her two favorite things in this world were babies and angels. I grinned wide, a small chuckle at the innocence of that statement, spoken in pure sincerity. Thinking about how gracefully she sought to guide all situations as a moral compass, I realize her love for the innocent was an embrace of such qualities in the rest of us. She was a strong believer, in general ... her spirituality guided her love for empowering people to think deeply about their lives and the good they could bring to others. She had a deep, quiet, peaceful understanding of human nature, and she assessed the situations around her with wisdom and, most importantly, optimism.

A guiding light like Laura's leaves an eternal impression on the world, and there's something really nice about extending that here, where it might guide a handful of others.

Dad

When I hear folks talking about having kids, I often hear them declaring their desire for a child of their same sex; the men want boys they can bond with, women want a girl they can share their childhood routines and playthings with. This is clearly not a truth entirely across the board, but as a child I always wanted a girl because I was sure I would connect with her more than I ever could with a boy. Having two younger brothers of significant age difference challenged this feeling, as they’re as dear to me and on the same wavelength most of the time more than one would think a gal in her late 20s could possibly have with boys 10 and 17 years her junior.

Growing up a tomboy with an equal passion for the traditionally feminine things, I found my best friend in my stepdad. We met when I was 8, and I knew he was a partner for life when I discovered Mr Bubbles in the bathroom, a vintage crayola alarm clock on the nightstand, and a comic book collection to rival the comic shop itself. We built model rockets together, his focus on loading them with high-powered engines coupled perfectly with my fascination for painting them with precision and launching them high into the sky. He shared his passion for music with me, and before I knew it I was copying his music onto my own tapes so I could load my Walkman with The Cure without having to borrow from his immaculate collection. His VHS collection of 80s movies changed my perception for life, and my top movie spots will never lose the likes of Rocky Horror Picture Show and Hackers.

As I grew older and my immediate interests changed (Abercrombie & Fitch, may you stay away forever), my dad has always remained deep in my inner me. Clutter-free workspaces, simple decor, and decluttering so you can always be one the move (just in case) … his mantras have become my best possible version of “I’m becoming my parents.” He’s more quiet now, often in the background when I go home (because who can’t be, surrounded by a teen & a LEGO-crazed 10yo), but he shares a wisdom and support that is unmatched in my life, when I need it the most.

I’m grateful to have a wealth of great relationships; my mom is my best friend, filling an incredibly different, but equally important place in my world. Cherish those moments you have with the special people in your life, and bend over backwards when you can repay the favor. The thought that I wouldn’t need my parents after I moved out of the house is laughable now, and I’m so grateful it wasn’t true.

October

I used to love the Summer most, but in the last few years my love for crisp autumnal air has taken over my love for shameless tanning. I think it ties back to my love for a good theme: wool, lacer boots, gourds, soup, Halloween, crisp air, earth tones, fog, mmm!

I lived in Portland last year, and I think what made it such a great fit for me was the prominence of autumnal things everywhere. There was a particular type of store everywhere, a style I liked to call camper chic (think: leather, woodsy soaps, wool blankets, drapey clothes). Oregon's the land of tall evergreens, snow-capped mountains, Pendleton wool, and so many great boots. Fresh food everywhere from the mild temperatures and steady drizzle. There's something so wonderfully cozy about that weather. I could wrap my hands around a warm mug of coffee and sit by a campfire year-round and never tire of it.

I spent a month in Colombia a few years ago, and I realized that while I love the mild weather there, there's something strange about living in a place where there are no seasons. Living near the Equator promises steady temperatures, warm year-round, but there's something really cool about experiencing seasonal change in the United States. Every season brings a wardrobe change, new foods, and appropriately themed holidays. I'm convinced Halloween really came about from the (spooky) creaky leafless trees blowing in the crisp Fall winds. Don't argue that.

Growing up, my parents always spent a lot of time preparing our house for Halloween. They loved the holiday, and would deck it out with spooky lights, hidden creatures in the bushes, speakers hidden on our property broadcasting the sounds of ghosts, goblins, screeches. It was a silly excuse for some harmless mischief, and we always loved it. That love for Halloween spread into my adulthood, and it's by far my favorite holiday. I'm embracing a simpler, modern approach to my home decor, and I'm working out what that means for Halloween. So far, I've got a skull-shaped decanter for the bar cart (this may or may not stay up year-round), and miniature white jack-o-lantern pumpkins.

The Little Things

At first thought, having an attention to detail sounds like a quality that requires laser focus, the ability to tune out the environment and focus on the little things. I'm finding more and more that an attention to detail, in its most effective form, actually requires a bird's eye view of situations, environments, roles at-large, an ability to balance the large and the small.

At the most basic level, most people think that having an attention to detail means they catch typos and straighten up messy tables compulsively. However, I think it stretches beyond those small normalcies, and blends into an ability to be self-aware in social situations, catching those small changes in social interactions that can mean saving someone from a hard day, and being aware enough of the present to anticipate what needs to be done for the future. Thinking of it as a needle in a haystack: you have to acknowledge, understand, then meticulously decompose the entire stack so you don't miss the needle, right? Chaos supports the detail, but it must be approached with reserve.

I don't want the pressure of declaring I'm a meticulous grammarian or never leave a stone unturned in the work I do, but I know my attention to detail dictates my success and happiness. Can we practice this skill? I'm not sure yet, but it's something I frequently consider as I train and support others in doing incredible things for The Iron Yard. Suggestions welcomed :)