It has been 20 years since my mom passed in early 2001. Even though it has been a long time since she has physically been with me, I can still hear her voice in my head, repeating many of her motherly maxims. One of her favorite sayings, which has become more meaningful to me over time was, “It’s time to putz around.” Mom loved to “putz,” a 1960s term meaning something like “the ability to meander around the house or waste time on frivolous activity.” For mom, putzing had become her pause button. Raising seven children was no frivolous activity to be sure, so when she had a moment of rest, she putzed. In her case, she wasn’t wasting time, but rather finding space for recovery to regroup and recharge, readying herself to take the (mother) hill again.
I ran away from home once when I was six. It didn’t go as planned.
It started as a normal Saturday for me… a lot of noise and activity in a large family with one brother (the first born) and five sisters. My spot was somewhere in the middle. I often felt very different from my siblings who were more athletic. They played football and tennis and did cheerleading. Athletics was a strong suit in the family. Our father lettered in four sports in college (not a typo – back in the day, you could play multiple sports because coaches didn’t expect year-round commitments). Most Saturdays, my siblings were out the door and off to play on some team or gather with friends for a sporting event. I felt left out, somehow inadequate because I didn’t have the athletic prowess they all seemed to have been born with.
When I was in college, my days started before my feet hit the floor… or so my roommate said. I was that morning person who couldn’t wait to get going, even on the weekends. Later, well into my career, I was a good fit for a global company that had employees covering all time zones and a culture that was 24/7: always available, always “on.” When I started a family, this became harder, and I found I struggled to recover at that pace. Now, as an entrepreneur running a global business, who has grown children and young grandchildren, the pace still becomes unsustainable at times. This is especially true now, as each of our days has become a blend of home and work life in this global pandemic. Maybe you feel something similar today or have felt like this through the various stages of your life.
“I never lose. I either win or learn.” Nelson Mandela
We are in one of the biggest learning chapters of our lives.
With COVID-19 changing our daily routines, we feel many things are out of our control. It would be easy to fall into despair and feel stuck. But I know when we get through the other side, we will look back on this time and acknowledge how much we were pushed, pulled, and forced to grow. Now is when we can think outside the box and try doing things differently than we have before. There is goodness in this if we take advantage of the opportunity.
Every conversation I have had in the month of January, I started it with, “Happy new year, happy new decade! Think back to 2010 – the last turn of the decade. Where were you? What were you doing? It’s likely you can remember the city you lived in, the company you were with, and the role you had. You might remember something particular about a relationship, the age of your children, or perhaps a major milestone. But I want you to think about your mental state: where you were inside your head. Were you thinking of the coming decade and what you wanted to learn or how you wanted to grow? Did you celebrate any of that good stuff you had along the way: your achievements, milestones, etc.
In a recent conversation with 4 Signature Program alumni, as I walked through this questioning, one commented, “You made me stop and reflect. The last decade was so intense and full, that it flew by. I’m not sure I stopped to think about those achievements, let alone celebrate them. Do you have any counsel for how we do that better for the next decade?”