IMG_1369Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, was the Commencement Speaker at U Cal Berkeley this past week.  Ms. Sandberg also wrote the book Lean In which generated lots of controversy among women. (Full disclosure, I have not read it). Sheryl Sandberg has endured what is understandably the worst year of her life after her husband Dave Goldberg had a cardiac arrhythmia while working out on a treadmill about one year ago. The story of what came next is astoundingly honest, brutally frank, and incredibly inspirational. I’m providing a link to the transcript here as well as a later link to the video.

Since reading this commencement address, I’ve thought a lot about what Ms. Sandberg says about resilience and those life-changing times that we encounter in living.

I have an undergraduate degree in Music Education with a performance major in piano. I had my ego stroked quite often as reading music came quite easily to me and I could play fairly well. So I when I graduated, I figured teaching would be a cakewalk. Was I ever wrong!

My first teaching job was as a K-12 choral/general music teacher in a struggling northwest New Hampshire school district. I was ill-prepared for the actual job of teaching and so, after a year, I left. That failure, as difficult as it was to accept, forced me to reflect on what it was I really wanted to do. If the past 20 years is any indication, I think I did find it.

The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.

Finding a Plan B is not as easy as waking up the next morning and knowing what to do. Sometimes, as it did for me, it takes years to figure things out. And sometimes Plan B can turn into Plan C, Plan D and Plan E.

And if you’ve read Ms. Sandberg’s speech, well you’ll know what to do with Plan B when you get there.




One door closes and another opens

I hope you will not mind this personal post. Our lives have been consumed for the last three months with selling our home, the place we have spent the last 20 years.

We bought this home in 1994. Built in 1931, its structure reminded both of us of our childhood; in fact I often referred to the architecture as “Leave It To Beaver” or Father Knows Best”. I realize that puts me in a certain age group :-).

Last spring, after shoveling what had to be a ton of snow, we decided to put our house on the market. It’s always enlightening to find out what matters to buyers. At times our house was described as well maintained, small, not worth the ask, old (no kidding!). One looker complained that we had more than one type of tile in the house. We learned to have a thick skin.

However, a buyer willing to wait for a new septic system and appreciative of an older gem of a house, is about to sign on. I feel a responsibility to our old house. It needs someone to love it as we have. I think our new buyers will do that.

Today is our last visit to the old place. In a few days we will no longer own property. Walking through an empty house and listening to the echoes of memories is bittersweet. There’s been sadness and grief and indescribable joyousness within these walls.

And while we turn the lock on our past 20 years, we remain hopeful that the next 20, the next adventures, will be as sweet.