Chemistry on the job

On the way to a degree in organizational management, I was required to take a class with the forbidding title, “Praxis of Organizational Growth and Health.” There I learned something I have never forgotten. After years of studying large organizations, researchers found the secret ingredient to whether an employee is happy in a job or not.

The secret?

The people.

Up to that time, I thought what I put into a job was what made me happy. If I was responsible, dependable, dedicated and knew my stuff; I could and should be content. If I was not content, I needed to turn up the energy and give more of myself.

I have worked some pretty joyless jobs – and worked them well. I came to think if you had done your best and continued to be unhappy in a job, it was not what you were called to do. It was incumbent you find your ambience and devote yourself to that.

Enter the three “Cs” concept of team building (Courageous Leadership, Hybels, 2002) from my leadership classes:
There again, I tended to dismiss Chemistry. It seemed frivolous. Character? Absolutely. Honesty is paramount. Competence? You bet. Who has not known the unrelenting stress of working with incompetents? But Chemistry? I was frugal in my expectations.

At the moment, I am privileged to work a fabulous job which I love immensely. The location is spectacular. The duties fit me like a glove. But it is the people that make it magical. As in any group, there are a smattering of incompetents, and one or two with whom I do not click. But oh, how easily those were forgotten in the glow of working side by side with a young seasonal whose across the board kindness to all was unflagging. She could dispatch duties with efficiency and artistry. Do not discount the pleasure of trading seldom used vocabulary with a venerable chief; nor underestimate friendship with a soft-spoken and diplomatic officemate; or a visionary and analytical director.

In my work environment; coming and going, transferring and furloughing is inevitable; good-byes and leave taking frequent; praise and commendation essential.

Last Friday went something like this
Coworker: Bye Cherry, it’s been real.
Me: Now? You’re not staying until close?
Co: have to finish some errands. I think you are awesome.
Me: You know I feel the same about you.
Coworker: (retreats down the hall with huge sniff).
Me: Go now, then! I don’t have any Kleenex!
Laughter filled the lengthening distance between us.

“Thanks for the laughter,” made an appearance on the note taped to my desk.
Perhaps laughter is chemistry?
Reader’s Digest was right about laughter being the best medicine.
My best co-workers are the breed C.S. Lewis was speaking of when he said merriment of the merriest kind “…exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously…(The Weight of Glory).”

I’ve looked at [work] from both sides now – drudgery and joy. It is the people who make the difference. And I fervently prefer an environment with character, competency and chemistry.

Why did the rabbit cross the road?

There is a cottontail that lives under the spreading Utah juniper tree in my front yard. I use the term front yard loosely. The area surrounding my little adobe house is high desert and unimproved but for a bit of arranging of the rocks and stones that litter the hillside. Also, the rabbit probably lives in a winding warren under the yard, but is only visible coming and going beneath the tree.
I consider this rabbit my pet of the most convenient kind. No muss. No fuss. I simply throw my apple cores out the door and enjoy the furry little rodent scavenger at dawn and dusk. Is there only one? Have you ever heard the cliche, “multiply like rabbits?” Who knows how many? I have seen three at the same time before; two fighting and one watching demurely from the shadows of rabbit brush bush.DSCN5000rabbits

Last spring, there were tiny bunnies peeping from rocks and shade along every trail I wandered in a one-mile radius. It was a year when rabbits were plentiful and coyotes few; though I had see a couple canis latrans skirting the property but 12 months previous.

My house sits more than 100 feet back from the road and overlooks an arroyo. In order to get to work, or the grocery, I must descend a winding mile down a road once gravel and known as “Jacob’s Ladder,” but now a paved artery that connects the main city to communities further up the mountain. This fall and winter, the road has been a killing field for rabbits and a buffet for scavengering ravens. Food is not in short supply. I may be the only one who sows apple cores, but horse barns populate the neighborhood. There is hardly a need for cottontail or jackrabbit to stray from home turf. Most of the rabbit roadkill has been near the corrals, where the proverbial grass is greener on both sides of the road. Last week, there was a bunny carcass much closer to home.

“Why do the bunnies cross the road?” I ask again, “When they have everything they need on their own side of the tracks.”

Life is good

“Elizabeth, agitated and confused, rather knew that she was happy, than felt herself to be so…(1813, Austen, Pride and Prejudice, chapter 59)”

Life has been pretty good, of late. It is possible to know life is good, but not feel it. Rationally, you tick off the list: food, shelter, provision, job, relationship – you have it all. Life is Good. You must be happy. But where are the feelings? You want to feel it!

When you get to the point where your head knows life is good, but your body and emotions are numb and refuse to feel it; there are five things to do that help transfer successes of the good life to feelings of well being:

Walk or Hike in nature and release some dopamine and endorphins into your system. I suspect exercise of any sort is helpful, so go ahead and enjoy the gym or mall walking; but maximum benefit for me happens when I combine the beauty of nature with exercise.

Hiking makes me FEEL that life is good. A fast walk along a nature trail helps me experience feelings of gratitude. Feelings of gratitude are the foundation of that feeling of well being.

My stars!  That is a walk with a view that will life your spirits! Moon rise from Window Rock
My stars! That is a walk with a view that will lift your spirits! Moon rise from Window Rock, Colorado National Monument 1-15-14 5:18 p.m.

Go to bed earlier. When life is good, it is easy to be in the mode of rise early and stay up late in order to maintain the success. Ben Franklin was right, “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.” Go to bed earlier. Get a refreshing rest. Wisdom feels wonderful.

Eat well. It is almost second nature to skip lunch (or breakfast or dinner) when you are busy. It is a shame to feel badly in the midst of a successful working life. For no other reason than to improve your emotional vision; make healthy food choices. For me this means plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; a smaller amount of meats, grains and sweets; and, gasp, no caffeine. It also means I need to eat something before I get that starved feeling and blood sugar plummets.

Choose music intentionally By all means, choose music! I cannot imagine life without the comfort of my piano. Make music. Listen to music. Console and exercise your brain by listening to your ipod or playing your heart out on the keyboard or strings. Not a good idea to overload on dirges, blues or torch songs; however.

Choose carefully the companions you spend time with. Better a long walk with a like-minded friend than a politically charged discussion with extended family. For the introvert, solitude is a much more serene friend than TV. A good book, or a reflective conversation with an old friend is better than a noisy bar or a competitive activity you are not good at.

January is half over. Life is good. I want to feel the goodness and savor it.

First Pool, No Thoroughfare Canyon, Colorado National Monument January 13, 2014
First Pool, No Thoroughfare Canyon, Colorado National Monument January 13, 2014

To Know and Be Known and the best gift ever

Did you ever receive a gift, large or small, that comforted your soul down to the very core because it was so appropriate to your needs, taste and personality? Sometimes you don’t know you have a need until it is met unexpectedly and you are made whole.
When you were a kid, did you get an extra special gift and beg to take it to school and show it off? I got a gift like that this year. The season of gift-giving is just past. My Christmas is complete. I have received a box from my brother and sister-in-law that scratches an itch way down deep. For the last 23 years they have been a partnership of quintessential gift givers. Last year it was hiking boots – and smart wool socks. This year? Oh, frabjous day! Nobody knows me like my brother and my sister-in-law.
In my honor, they gave a gift to Heifer International.
As if that wasn’t enough; I got two books, TWO, with titles made just for me: “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a Word That Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain and “The Walk” by William deBuys. For 24 hours I skipped cooking and gorged myself on the finest trail mix I have ever ingested. And, I got two notepads and a packet of glorious carbon pencils with wondrous sayings printed down the length of each one, encouraging things like, “I write, therefore I am,” “Sit down and get writing!” “Write from the heart.”

What was the best gift you received this year? Time alone? Quality time with someone? Words of affirmation? Some gift of service? An expensive material gift? In my history, any gift over $10 is pretty expensive. The best gifts are those where the thought counts exponentially because the giver was not thinking of expense or obligation; but specifically of who you are, your role in the world, and what the deep desires of your heart are.

12 Major Resolutions

So, I sat down at my piano to think the new year through. Soon, I had made 12 major resolutions. I rose, feeling a sense of finalization and breathed, “Amen and amen.” – oops. Here is my Happy New Year wish to my numerous musician friends; May all your two part inventions synchronize. May your motifs be pure. May your pitch be perfect and may you meet your coda so you are not always baroque. Here’s 32 bars raised to your good vivace!
My apologies, I did plagalise this inspiration from some passing notes of a few musicians on social media:) – – HAPPY NEW YEAR