The Importance of Presence

Sunshine and Sunset

3800467037_1c0bf2ee3c(1)My nephew (niece’s husband) died a week ago while I was on a mini vacation.  I was very upset that I was not present, but then if I was supposed to have been here, I would have been here.  Today I am thinking about one of my last visits with him. He was on oxygen and unable to carry on a long conversation.  He asked: “To what do I owe this visit?” I said: “I just wanted to come and be present.” I thought about my mother who lived alone from 1969 to 1997.  After I was an adult, I was always available to her when she needed me.  So I took her to all of her appointments, and shopping.  I visited, Christmas,  and Mother’s Day. She didn’t celebrate her birthday. We were together as a family on Thanksgiving.  But I don’t remember just visiting her just to visit.  Sometimes…

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I’m Going to Miss These…

My friend Marybeth woke me up today when a loud buzz announced a new message coming in from Australia; subject line said: I’m going to miss these…
In the flash of time between reading that subject and opening the message, so many thoughts went through my mind about what “these” could be. Marybeth is on a year-long adventure with people she likes a lot. What’s there to miss? Uncomfortable beds? Beautiful people? A certain tree, plant or flower? Bugs? Fascinating accents? Unforgettable cuisine?

And then my phone died.

So, instead of plugging it in, I rolled over and thought about what I might miss someday. I have been on a life-long adventure which, God willing, should continue for the foreseeable future. But what about this place, this week, this day will I miss when I look back on it? The man beside me, snoring in a quiet, kind of soothing way? The coffee pot clicking on by itself? The paper dropping from some invisible hand onto my doorstep?

I miss the babies who became my children, yet I love those young adults as much as I ever have. I miss the gardens outside the incredible house we just sold to a stranger in exchange for a handful of cash. I miss the Christmas holidays I thought we’d celebrate there. Soon, I will miss that handful of cash. But what is there about now that I will miss? What am I forgetting to wrap my arms around and enjoy? What is already in my life that I will see in the rearview mirror and long for? What do I have that I will one day wish I held onto?

Last week, I stood outside my mom’s apartment building, a place we call Fawlty Towers (because my family relabels names of places). I stood with three people I care about. One lit up a cigar, two shared a single cigarette, and I carried a heart-attack in a bag (aka Chinese food and a dozen chocolate chip cookies). I will miss summer evenings in front of Fawlty Towers. I will miss our singular family culture. I will miss these three people, when some of us are gone. Perhaps they will one day miss me. I suppose so.

The whole carpe diem thing kind of got the better of me about then. So I rolled out of bed and stumbled through the kitchen, to the garage. As I hopped on my bike, the icy morning air woke me up for real, and I steered my trusty old ten speed toward Lake Harriet. Most people, even people I live with, don’t know I do this. They would tell me not to; it’s dark, it’s cold. But these morning rides are the best. I’m going to miss these.

 

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Reblogging: Good Leadership Blog – Paul Batz

Reblogging: Good Leadership Blog – Paul Batz

Good Leaders: How does sorrow enrich your leadership?

My buddy Max passed on Easter Saturday and I'm still wading through the sorrow.

Odes to man’s best friend are as endless as the ocean – individual as snowflakes. Last Saturday morning, our oldest dog Max died in my arms. Today, I’m still wading through sorrow and inspired to offer my ode.

What does the passing of a household dog have to do with Good Leadership!? Sorrow is currency for reflection, inspiration and goodness. No one promised the journey would always be sunshine and chocolate chip cookies…and everyone knows sometimes it hurts to love someone deeply.

At 15 1/2 years old, Max aged well into his Shiatsu-Poodle grey beard. He was 12 pounds of grandpa gentleness, and a fearless alpha male protector of our home turf. Three 60-pound Labrador Retrievers next door humored him daily as they raced with Max as a pack, back and forth along our adjoining fence.

Sir Maxwell of the Bloomington Batz family will be missed: my wise, warm and fiery companion.

When fatigue caused the parade to stop, Max would continue barking bloody murder with his snout piercing through the chain link – while the Alpha Male on the other side would lift his leg and relieve himself on Max. To say that Max was “pissed” has a complex double meaning.

When I was a kid, we mused about “dog-years” as 7 years to every one human year. That would make Max about 108 when he ate his last treats at the vet. Max was my soul mate during the darkest hours of my mid-life scare with acute angioedema. When others had to go off to school and into work, Max stayed home with me every minute. Faithfully.

Max was my lap-warmer, and his sister Lola liked to watch as we created blogs in the early morning.

As I write this blog, my heart is warm…but my lap is cold. Especially in his latest years, Max loved to join me in our favorite chair as I wrote, thought and prayed. He helped me write my first blog – in our favorite chair – on January 12, 2010. After our son Ben left the home for college – it was Max and me holding our own against a chorus of females. We had a man crush going, and I’m not ashamed to say I miss him.

If it had been easy to say goodbye, then it would have been wrong.

But alas, good leaders understand nothing lasts forever. Things change, evolve, advance. And we keep growing until we decide we don’t. Easter Sunday was the next day and I found great joy in thinking about the resurrection through the butterscotch soul of Max. I am feeling warmer, wiser and calmer – filled with the undying love and wisdom of Sir Maxwell, the miniature bad-ass protector of the Bloomington Batz family.

Good leaders make a habit of embracing the intense emotions of a life well-lived. And they grow warmer, wiser and calmer by a life well-loved.

Our readers will appreciate knowing: how has sorrow enriched your leadership?

Fly

By AdrielleRoyale Nature in Photography

By AdrielleRoyale Nature in Photography

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.

— Stephen King