Gratitude and a Broken Elbow

Gratitude and a Broken Elbow

Every year I write a blog about gratitude in November. This year it seemed especially important, with my right elbow in a post-surgery splint and sling…

On election night, I stepped on a stick, rolled my ankle, fell onto my knee, and then caught all of my weight on my right hand. The result was a dislocated, fractured elbow – an injury known as “the terrible triad.”

Since then, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Learning to navigate the day with my left hand has been frustrating and something of a comedy routine. It goes like this: open the refrigerator door with left hand, go back to counter and pick up container, go back to fridge to find the door closed. Walk back to the counter and set the container down again. Go back and open the fridge…

I’m not sure that I ever realized what a beautiful ballet our hands do all day long. Sometimes they’re both doing the same thing; for example, taking the turkey out of the oven. But often, they’re doing different things while still working together, like the left hand opening the refrigerator, while the right hand returns a container to the shelf. It’s an amazing dance that I hadn’t noticed and have taken for granted — just as I take for granted the coordination and grace of my right hand.

I have gotten better at feeding myself with my left hand (although I noticed dried grains of rice stuck to a shirt I put in the laundry the other day). My writing has not gotten better. It’s also a struggle to open containers of all kinds, to get contact lenses out of my right eye, and using plastic wrap is simply not an option.

In addition, everything takes a little longer. I’ve had to slow way down. Sometimes I just stand for a moment to think through if I can even do a thing with just one hand. In that slowing down, I’ve gotten really present. I can only do one thing at a time. And sometimes, I can’t even do that!

I’ve had to accept a lot of help. That isn’t easy for me; I’m used to being independent and self-sufficient. Now I can’t drive or grocery shop alone. I need help to wash my hair, to cook dinner, to change the sheets on the bed – again, every day things I’ve been taking for granted.

So while I wouldn’t choose a broken elbow to cap off 2020, I will say that I am grateful for all of the lessons. For a healthy and healing body that I am no longer taking for granted. For the slowing down and being present. And for all the help, support, understanding and love I’ve received.

And if you want a different kind of gratitude exercise, try this: use your non-dominant hand for daily tasks for the next hour or two!

Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

p.p.s. If you’d like more thoughts on gratitude, here is last year’s blog, which contains links to the previous five years of gratitude posts: https://jenfrankcoaching.com/2019/11/the-season-of-giving-thanks/

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Networking during a pandemic (and an online career group starting Sept 15)

Networking during a pandemic (and an online career group starting Sept 15)

Right now may be a difficult time to search for a job, but it is a great time to build your network! And networking is career development that can absolutely be done during the pandemic.

Remember, you have to build your network before you need it, and networking is the difference maker when it comes to getting your resume read and landing an interview.

Currently, you can safely use both information interviews and online networking events to build your network.

Information interviews are my favorite networking tool, and more information about them can be found here:
https://jenfrankcoaching.com/2014/07/information-interviews/
https://jenfrankcoaching.com/2014/07/information-interviews-part-2/

As for online networking, I checked it out for myself – since I try to do the things that I ask my clients to do! Here’s what I experienced.

I attended events that were specific to my field (coaching) and an event in Memphis for which I received an invitation.

Here’s what happened:
– At each event, we briefly introduced ourselves.
– The events were heavily facilitated. (So there was none of the usual standing around awkwardly looking for someone to speak with.)
– We were sent into Zoom breakout rooms with a question to discuss. Sometimes there was a facilitator and sometimes we were left to lead ourselves.

Of course, events will vary. However, I would suggest:
– Have a great personal introduction that is more than just your profession; tell people what you care about.
– Be ready to participate. You can’t hide out or be distracted and expect to have a good experience.
– Keep a lookout for who you enjoy talking to or hearing from; get LinkedIn to them and/or send them a message.

If you need help networking or getting some clarity around your career direction so you come out the pandemic positioned for success, I have an online career coaching group starting September 15 – and there is one spot left. Contact me for more information, and see: https://jenfrankcoaching.com/career-group/

Happy networking!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching.

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Technology = Stress

Technology = Stress

2020 has been a tough year in a lot of ways, and it got off to rocky start for me with technology. First my blog stopped working. Then my brand new computer couldn’t print and fixing the OS froze the computer…back to the store. The TV was next (ok, it was 12 years old). And then both my cable and phone lines went down; as in, the wires were physically ripped off my roof.

I imagine most folks wouldn’t find these glitches much fun, but it took my stress to the next level. Every time I solved one problem, calmed down and my neck relaxed again, a new thing went wrong – and my neck immediately was tight as a fist.

Technology is a big trigger for me, with all of my reactions being over-reactions and disproportionate to the actual problem. In my mind, however irrational, technology issues threaten my self reliance, my productivity, my financial stability, and my very self worth! What if I can’t fix these problems?! What if no one can?! Ever?!!

Like I said, it’s not very rational. But when I can stop for a moment and take a few breaths, here is what I know to be true:

  • I always seem to find a solution to a problem
  • Many problems require not just solutions, but patience
  • If I can’t figure something out, I can ask for help
  • There is always help
  • I’m grateful to have the means to replace old technology
  • I’m grateful for people who are willing and able to help me
  • My stress about most problems is wasted energy; it doesn’t change the problem or speed up the solution
  • What I see as a problem in the moment may be an actual blessing (i.e., all this stuff got resolved before COVID)

I’d like to say I handled this string of technology problems well. On one phone call, I thanked the technician for his patience, and he said, “I was just about to say the same thing to you!” So that was a good sign. However, I know that more patience and acceptance could have brought me more peace and less anxiety. I hope the next time I have a technology issue, I remember to read this post!

What’s that thing that tends to trigger you? Where a small problem feels huge or unmanageable, and you find yourself spinning out? What do you need to remind yourself in those times, so the problem gets right-sized?

Wishing you – and your technology – glitch-free operations!

p.s. Your comments are most welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching

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Heavy, Tired, Motivated, Inspired

Heavy, Tired, Motivated, Inspired

I’ve been struggling with what to say for more than a week now; I’ve written blogs and trashed them. I’ve been feeling sad, a bit hopeless and withdrawn. I truly believe that black lives matter, and I want to be an ally – but I’m bumbling around and I’m not sure how to do it effectively. I’m wondering if it makes a difference if I say the same things that have already been said…

It’s easy for me to show up for my clients as a coach; I know what to do, feel competent and can help folks find solutions to their problems. What’s harder is for me to show up as a human being and communicate on a deep level when I feel powerless or like don’t have any value to add. I certainly don’t have any solutions for the enormous problems surrounding our society’s failure to uphold its agreements with all its people, especially Black and Brown people. (Trevor Noah and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar both said it better than I can.)

So I’ve been watching what’s happening; sometimes thinking about things and sometimes grieving; and checking on friends and clients. Some folks are feeling heartbroken, others are angry. One summed it up by saying “it’s hard being Black in America right now.” And, surprisingly, I’m also hearing that some people feel excited and inspired, believing in the possibility of real change.

I saw the same thing last week in my New Memphis Institute Embark online workshop when I asked people how they were feeling. At the beginning, they used words like “heavy” and “tired.” After talking about service-based leadership and how they might empower others as well as identifying their core values (what’s most important to them), they reported feeling “supported,” “thoughtful” and “motivated.” Me, too.

When I’m not isolated, I hear perspectives that are more hopeful than my own.

And here is the lesson for me (there is always one in every difficult situation): I need to show up. I need to listen. I need to use the one voice I have, if only to let people know that I see them and I care. I don’t have to comment on everything, but when it’s important, I have to come out of isolation and say the things that feel scary and vulnerable to me.

The thing that finally pushed me to post this imperfect blog was George Floyd’s daughter’s joy when she said “Daddy changed the world.” Gianna, he changed me, too, and so did you. Thank you for being a light in the darkness.

Thank you all for being a light, whether you are just hanging on, taking the small actions you can, or out protesting. We all make a difference in our own way. Keep showing up – and please keep showing yourself and others a little extra grace right now. We all need it.

Much love to you all.

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at https://www.facebook.com/jenfrankcoaching. You can also reach out to me at jen@jenfrankcoaching.com if you need someone to listen. ❤

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