january book eats

I read just over a dozen books last year, and hope to average sat least two per month in 2016.  I almost missed it, but yesterday, as #2 was on a date with Daddy, I brought my second book to the mall and sat in the food court beside the youngest, equipped him with a scoop of death by chocolate and Minecraft (okay not my brightest move as a mother) and flew through the final pages while the oldest danced around the clothing stores as teens are programmed to do.  With a new, shrunken commute, I hope I'll still be able to keep this up.

 

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker

For reasons I can't explain, after following her blog, pvr-ing her Today Show appearances, wishing I had the American HGTV, scouring the podcast world for her talks and interviews for several years (which explains why I say y'all now), this is the first book of hers I have read.  I am officially one of The 4500, the sea of people who applied to be part of her launch team to promote the book, but didn't score a spot.  In applying, though, I got a couple of free chapters to enjoy before it released.  I knew from then that I had to get my hands on this book.  She is a lover of Jesus, her family, cooking and community, is utterly honest and Hi. Lari. Ous.  This book was like a date with your best collection of girlfriends, with generous doses of zoomed in and panned out looks at ourselves, our people, the big-C Church, and the world, wrapped tightly in a blanket of out-loud laughter.

 

Stir by Jessica Fechtor

Once I return it to the library (after exhausting my renewal allowance), I will have to buy my own copy. I loved it so much.  Part memoir, part recipe book, Jessica Fechtor, author of the food blog Sweet Amandine, begins with the morning an aneurysm burst in her brain, and moves through the messy, scary long road that followed.  Multiple surgeries, loss of sight, loss of smell.  Sprinkled across the pages are glimpses into her youth, college years and life in young adulthood, where you meet and quickly grow to love her tribe of friends and family.  Then, as the best bonus ever, almost every one of the 33 chapters ends with the recipe mentioned in the narrative, giving the reader the exact gift they are hoping for by the time they catch on a few chapters in.  And save for the Five-Fold Challah, because I'm a bit lazy for a four-pager, I want to try each of the recipes.  Not in a Julie and Julia mission kind of way, but because they are all amazing and proven unforgettable, obviously.  A word about Jessica's writing, though.  It is beautiful and brilliant.  Okay, that was two words.  The way she paints the scene for her audience, so vividly you start feeling like you're reading fiction, ugh.  See?  I am reduced to grunting just thinking about it, I'm so speechless.

finishing well

I just finished my last day of work, after just over six years of service.  It is the longest tenure I have held in my choppy, colourful career.  

I start a new job today.  It is the first time I will be working at a job whose function and industry I was very intentional about pursuing.  Well hey now, there's my word for the year! Hurrah!  I am so excited.

But in these last two weeks, I did whatever I could to end this chapter well.

Transition to equip and empower - In the world of accruals, reconciliations, pivot tables and cross-continental Dropbox folders, everything can be learned from numerous resources. I decided to direct my training towards less tangible skills like how to manage the requests of fast-talking executives, the whys behind the how-tos, and the value of demanding excellence from yourself in every task. These were lessons taught to me by integrity-driven supervisors and peers over the years that needed to be paid forward.

Clean up - Purge physical and soft files that only I understand and will just confuse everyone. There will always be scrambling after one leaves.  Less painful for all when you delete the first four iterations of Schedule A from 2011.  With all humility, too, I did not shred the unfinished past project that would clearly be misaligned with the reliability I wanted to be known for, because I'll be honest, I thought about it.  The file folder remains in my cabinet, and I shared it with my successor. Oh Brene, it was tough but I was brave and did it anyway! Hashtag vulnerabilityisagoodthing

Get personal - I wrote personal thank you cards to each fellow employee.  Our workforce has been reduced to skeletal numbers so the task wasn't monumental.  But, I couldn't afford to underestimate this opportunity to give love (because in the music industry so many haven't been afforded the chance to leave on their own terms) by waiting until the second-last day and resort to a standard template because things got too busy in the end.  I wrote them on the day after I handed in my notice.  I wrote my all-staff farewell email the following day, which included illustrated instructions on the Excel formula I most frequently get asked about, maybe more for my own amusement, actually.

Leave a legacy of excellence, service, and care - I didn't want anyone to feel abandoned in my departure. There was no allowance for I'm-already-gone ball-dropping.  I sped up processes so they could be tied up by my last day, and asked other departments about current needs and going-forward concerns.  This stretched me beyond my wits, I confess, especially when the conditions I assumed would be ideal were far from it. At least three people told me to loosen my grip on what needs to get done, one of whom was Ben, who, with the kids, got the nightly aftermath of this tiring endeavour.  It made me think about Tsh Oxenreider's confession of her time writing about her simple life actually being a slice of short-term chaos.  I am ripping a band-aid off, I think, with this purposeful and temporary pain.  In the end, I had to surrender some of my goals, but while I now feel that they won't melt away if they have to learn some things without me, it was a matter of putting my money where my mouth is when I say I want others to feel loved by tying whatever loose ends I can for/with them.

So here I am, wide-eyed well before my new morning alarm, with a blank 100-page coil notebook downstairs in the foyer, eagerly awaiting the writing of a new story.  And the peaceful readiness I feel right now is a happy byproduct of a crazy but thoughtful two weeks of intentional transition.

Let's do this.