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Gloom and bloom.

In a corner of the YMCA on a Sunday. Peyton is attempting to do schoolwork. We both have noise cancelling headphones on---the tech world's greatest invention. There's still sound, but the din is less so. I can think. If only I had invested in these earlier, I wouldn't have been hiding from the world in search of solitude. It's right here, elegantly plugging up my earholes.

The first couple weeks of January--never a good time. Expectations run too high, the imagination is still asleep, and the failure ratio for any goals set is soul crushing. It's confusing and gray. False and arbitrary.

Long ago in my more professional life, this would be the time my boss du jour would begin discussing SMART goals for the year. We all knew that goals wouldn't actually be finalized for several months as concepts and measures had to flow from one department to the next up and down the food chains. Depending on the particular year and whether or not a leader was jockeying for position, the exercise would range from profound and motivational to a clear waste of breath and an omen of darkness to come. In years where I managed a team, it was especially tricky business to ensure my peeps were protected from the fickleness of above. We had to be inventive. We had to be steadfast in what made our work meaningful to us. It could all change in the blink of a new leader; a new budget; a new merger; a new disaster.

In other words, representative of real life.

What an incredible teacher.

And so here I am, in my corner of the YMCA on a gloomy Sunday, tapping away on my laptop, changing from silence to hip hop in my earholes, and remembering that my only leader these days is me. She can be fickle and sometimes a tyrant, but more often than not, she's a lovely lady intent on bringing out my best. She motivates with curiosity, innate kindness, and wit as well as cheese and good music. She's kinda a keeper. Thank goodness because we have work to do. And this's not arbitrary or soul crushing. Nor is it measured on an annual basis with useless forms that will be forgotten as soon as the "submit" button is pressed.

So, 2023, hello to you from this fearless leader. You are a daily labor of love.


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