No Dumb Questions

I firmly believe there is no such thing as a dumb question. If you don’t know the answer to something, ask. And if people laugh at you or roll their eyes in annoyance, they were the wrong person to ask. It is never the question that should be in question.

I remember visiting Scott’s grandmother in the hospital years ago. I can’t remember what she was in there for, but I know it wasn’t good. We were in the waiting room for a long time and then invited back to see her. I stood up and went to follow everyone but looked down at the cold, dimly-lit hallway and hesitated. My soon-to-be father-in-law gave me a curious look. I had a question that I wasn’t sure how to ask. And then, I just asked it.

“What will I see when I go in there?” I asked him. Having visited my own grandparents in the hospital many times, I never asked the question beforehand. I would just follow people into the room, hope for the best, and expect the worst. But, it had been a while since I was in this particular situation. I had seen some things in the past that made me uncomfortable. So, I asked. My father-in-law smiled and reassured me that she looked like herself and was attached to only a few machines, but it was nothing scary. And then, as we walked down the hallway toward her room, he gave me a little squeeze to reassure me it was all good.

I breathed a sigh of relief for two reasons. First, I honored my instincts and asked the question so I knew what to expect. Second, to his credit, my father-in-law didn’t laugh at my question. He showed me kindness and alleviated my concerns.

This is a memory that comes to mind often when I have questions I’m afraid to ask. Like, every day, I have another social media question for the younger (and much more knowledgable) staff members. Can I post a picture to Instagram from my laptop? And can I add a link to the comments of the post so people can go directly to the website? The answers are – no and no. I have to upload the images from my phone and sign up for something called Linktree. That’s it. No eye-rolls. No laughing. Instead, I got the answers I needed to do my job.

As I approach my 50th year, I have questions. There are some I don’t ask, but not because I’m afraid of what people will think of me. Thankfully, I learned to give up those concerns in my 40’s. It’s because I wonder what will happen after I ask them or worse if I don’t ask them at all. And yes, I’m purposely vague on what those questions are because that’s not what’s important. For now, just like in that dimly-lit hallway, I am summoning up the courage to ask, and I remind myself that there are no dumb questions. I can only hope I am met with smiles, hugs, kindness, and answers.

Collecting My Thoughts

As I sat on my sofa and watched the sunrise this morning, I took a sip of my coffee. Most of the time, I start my day like this and think about all the work I have to do, the errands I need to run, and what I need to get accomplished in the next 12 hours or so. But, this morning, I had a completely different train of thought. I sat there and wondered – what exactly are we all in for this week as a nation?

My first thought was, please God, let’s not have a repeat of last week’s events. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I would witness an attack on our legislative branch (or any branch for that matter). Growing up, I remember being taught that the legislature is the most important branch of government. From creating our laws and protecting our rights to declaring war, our senators and representatives represent our ideals for democracy. And the Capitol building is where they work every day for all of us. It is their home away from home. It’s a melting pot of people who speak on behalf of its citizens. At least, I like to think they do, but don’t worry, I am not that naive.

For me, the Capitol building has always been a place of reverence and compromise, certainly not violence, hate, and intolerance. I have so many photos of myself in front of that majestic building with my parents and sister on school trips and family vacations. I’ve visited D.C. more often than any other city in the country – except for Philadelphia (of course). I’ve gone there to visit with my sister, who lived in the District for many years or attend meetings with colleagues. The last time I was there was about a year ago to see a special showing of High Fidelity followed by a conversation with the one and only John Cusack. I took the train to D.C. and remembered walking out of Union Station, and the first thing I saw was the Capitol welcoming me to one of my favorite cities. It has always been a sight to behold and a symbol of all that is good and decent in our country. I have so many good memories there.

It’s hard to wrap my head around what happened on those steps and in those gilded hallways just a few short days ago. In a word, it was frightening. Just like you, I watched our representatives being evacuated from the House chamber that I’ve toured a few times when they weren’t in session. I recognized many of those faces from Meet the Press and Face the Nation and saw them running for their lives. They became much more human to me in those moments than their somewhat celebrity status on TV. I felt for their families, who were helplessly watching this all unfold live on television along with the rest of the country. I can’t imagine the sheer panic these men and women (and their staff and everyone else who works in the building) went through in those harrowing moments and then subsequent hours of waiting and wondering when they can go back to work and how long it would before they could hug their loved ones.

I wish I didn’t know that the horrible people who attacked our democracy existed in this country. I always knew they could be found if I really looked – but I never looked. And then, they were there. People who have an inherent loathing for all minorities and wear their hate across their chests with pride and in plain sight. It is terrifying that such a mob could descend upon our leaders and threaten them with more than just words.

And now, there are talks of impeachment and removal and the 25th amendment and resignations, all of which, by the way, I am totally on board with. Throw the book at them, I say.

God only knows what comes next, which is what I was thinking about as I drank my coffee in my peaceful home at the crack of dawn. I hope and pray that whatever happens doesn’t top last week’s events. And I think I’ll leave it at that.

 

My 2021 Word of the Year

Why do I do this? Yes, picking a word of the year is kind of gimmicky and definitely trendy for bloggers like me. But, when taken seriously, it can be rewarding. Some years I’ve picked a word, and by the end of the month, I’ve completely forgotten what I chose. Other years, one word fueled my passions. In 2018, I chose the word “coffee” – and invited friends and family to join me for a cup of joe and conversation. While it may have been a little self-serving because I am a big coffee drinker, the friendships I’ve built and grown and the connections I’ve made continue to flourish to this day.

Last year, I picked “believe” as my word of the year. I’d say that worked out well for me. When I was furloughed from my job over the summer, I believed I was given the gift of time. I had faith that there was a better opportunity for me and my career, and thankfully, I found it. I believed in being resilient in the face of change personally and in the new normal we are experiencing. I’d say that “believe” was the right choice for me in 2020.

Choosing a word is no easy task. I want the word I select for 2021 to represent what I need in my life right now and what I can do without. I want the word to be what gets me out of bed in the morning with each sunrise and have a daily focus or mantra that helps me become an even better version of myself.

Sounds like a tall order, right?! 🙂

At first, I chose the word “comfort.” We could all use some comfort these days. After the year we’ve just been through, why wouldn’t I want to embrace this word and take full advantage of what it includes. I can live in my comfort zone, enjoy comfort food, and buy fleece blankets and fuzzy socks to my heart’s content.

Yes, comfort would be nice. But, the word didn’t feel strong enough to me. It didn’t resonate and quite frankly sounded a little lazy. And, I guess I didn’t want to get too comfortable.

So, I gave it some more thought. I’m turning 50 this year (next month!), and it is natural to look at life thus far and take inventory of where I’m at and where I want to go. I wrote a few thoughts down about this milestone birthday. The themes that kept coming up were that I didn’t want to worry about what happened in the past because I am powerless to change it. And I don’t want my “Type A” self to set a ton of goals and plans to wrap my head around that go too far into the future. And honestly, that would stress me out more than serve as motivation.

And then – like a sunrise – it dawned on me. I want to be more present in my life, less distracted. I want to put my cell phone down when people talk to me – especially my husband and my children. I wish to choose baby steps over giant leaps. I don’t want to worry about my mistakes or what could happen next month or next year or in the years to come. I want to focus my energy on TODAY.

My 2021 word of the year is TODAY. I will count my blessings, practice kindness, and listen to my heart. I will be productive but calm. I will let go of what I can’t control. I will breathe.

I will ask myself – What can I do TODAY to improve myself, to help others, and to feel accomplished? How will I take better care of myself TODAY? What will I do that brings me joy TODAY? Who can I learn from TODAY? How can I make someone else’s life a little easier TODAY?

I have to tell you that I’m so happy with this word. I want TODAY to take me out of my comfort zone and help me grow. Who knows where TODAY will take me, but what a great reason to get out of bed in the morning and find out! And of course, I’ll report back here what I’ve learned and experienced.

If you want to pick a word, here are some questions you can ask yourself. What do I want to do differently in 2021? What can I do better? What do I want less of in the coming year? How do I want to feel at the end of the day?

Everyone’s word of the year is different and true to themselves. You may see people choose other words and wonder why you didn’t choose it for yourself. Pick a word that means something to you, and it will be the right one. And I hope you will let me know when you figure it out.

Buh-Bye, 2020!

Dear 2020,
Don’t let the door kick you in the tush on your way out. Buh-bye.
Love, Elisa

P.S. Actually, 2020, maybe I’m a little unfair to you. Not everything has been awful.

Yes, I was furloughed from my job and found myself collecting unemployment for the first time in my life–and during a global pandemic, no less. But, I found an even better job. One where my talents are maximized, my work and input are appreciated, and where I am fairly compensated.

And yes, I was really sick at the end of February into March, which I’m guessing was probably COVID-19. At the time, I wasn’t sick enough to qualify for testing (which was scarce then). I thank G-d every day that it was a mild case, but I hope I’m never that sick again.

I suppose, 2020, that there have been some good things that happened this year. I’ve seen my kids in a completely different light as they successfully navigate both their academic careers and (semi-) social lives while staying safe. I always made it a priority to teach them kindness and resilience in life. Watching them over the past year, I’ve seen so many ways in which that message has been well-received.

I’ve learned how to ask for help from friends, family, and even total strangers. We all need help from time to time, and 2020 has been the year that I asked for what I needed and gave back where I could reciprocate. I’ve met some wonderful people and expanded my professional network. I benefited from their career advice and their willingness to introduce me to people who helped me get ahead. Come to think of it, losing my job may have been the best thing that happened to me this year.

Um, thanks, COVID?

Ok, 2020, you gave me all of the above plus Joe Biden, Randy Rainbow, Disney+, genius late-night talk show hosts, time to read books and do jigsaw puzzles, and that unforgettable night of laughing hysterically with Scott and the kids while playing Cards Against Humanity. And seriously, so much more that I can be truly grateful for. So, I guess some thanks are in order.

But, you also made me worry about everything from my mail and my groceries to my family and friends. I haven’t seen my parents or my extended family and larger circle of friends nearly as much as I normally do this time of year. COVID-19 changed me from a news junkie to a more casual consumer of current events for my own sanity. In 2020, I increased my screen time by 1000 percent. My waistline has expanded as well. And, I have more face masks, wipes, and Purell than I know what to do with and hopefully won’t need for much longer.

For better and for worse, you changed me, 2020. All I ask is for a much happier and healthier 2021 for everyone.

Buh-Bye, 2020…it’s been – you know – unprecedented.

1 2 3 60

%d bloggers like this: