Fighting Fog

6a015436eb4a84970c0192ac870d39970dThis blog has been a long time in the making.
There are times in my life and my work where I have the sense I’m fighting fog. Like somehow I’ve just lost a game I didn’t know I was in. Where I become aware that I’m feeling angry and somehow disadvantaged and I can’t quite work out how or where it has come from… where the rules of engagement seem to suggest everything is fine and normal and good – but my instinct is all is not right and I have an urge to kick back and bite…..
So when David D’Souza wrote his blog last Sunday on Sexy Women of HR– I found myself profoundly, almost comically angry… and I mean properly, arrestingly – WTF angry….. but I couldn’t quite find the words for or understand why.
And I’ve sat quietly with a question of what “that” sense of anger was…. and then a lot less quietly when I talked to David about the blog, my response, others’ responses… (In a highly emotional, pointy way after too much wine… Sadly my courage sometimes needs to be Dutch.)
Having processed it, what it comes down to, mostly, is this. There was something about the tone of the piece that made me furious.

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The Marvellousness & the Minutiae – What do you bring?

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There seemed to be lot of interest and comments on this week’s blog post, which is always satisfying.

And there were some great examples of how people are contributing – what they are bringing to organisations or organisational conversations…..

and yet I find I want to re-press the point, ask again to see what comes back from readers of the fuchsia blue blog:

What is your contribution to being agile or adaptable in your work? What do you bring to your work conversations that is different or useful or necessary?

Are you innovative? Do your bring order? A good grip on data & measurements? Are you provocative? Political? Can you raise a smile in the midst of heavy conversations? Do you handle conflict well? Can you sit with difference? Is it good public speaking? Or the ability to have small, trust-filled conversations? DO you have a fantastic eye for commercial potential? can you tap into the “feel” of a conversation well? Do you bring compassion? Practicality? A particular interest?

I’m looking for the marvellousness and the minutiae. What do you bring?

I’m asking because I’m genuinely interested . I suspect your stories will be lifting. I suspect there are wonderful positive stories from people about what differences and contributions people are bringing to their work space.

I’m particularly mindful there were no comments from women, this week, other than via DM or conversation and I REALLY want to bring those voices forward, because I don’t feel I have and have a suspicion there is a rich narrative there.

and in case anyone is feeling self-conscious about stating their contribution, I offer Come To The Edge as an enticement

Come to the edge.

We can’t. We’re afraid.

Come to the edge.

We can’t. We will fall!

Come to the edge.

And they came.

And he pushed them. And they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire

So. Friday/ Weekend invitation to bring your contribution stories here. I would, simply, love to hear from you.

Inspiration…

Monday’s post felt a little shouty. Today, I’m blogging out in a different space, trying to occupy more gentle, expansive territory, trying to think of the things that inspire.

Tomorrow (Sunday 1st July) I undertake a mini Triathlon, a physical challenge inspired by my family’s very real, very long and very raw struggle to come to terms with early onset dementia suffered by Margaret Drybrough (AKA my Mum) over the last 10 or so years.

As I swim, bike & run my way round Hawick in the Scottish Borders, I’ll be thinking of my parents and brothers and my husband, my sisters in law, nieces, nephew…I’ll be carried by every single person who has donated sponsorship in a recession. Everyone who has sent encouragement on the JustGiving site.

I will be inspired to move.

For me, to be inspired by something means I stop in my tracks a little and connect to something bigger than myself. When I’m inspired, I want to stand a little taller, do something a little better, breathe a little deeper, create something a little more meaningful.

I’m laying out inspiration so it too will carry me round tomorrow and in the hope that other people will share their inspirations & thoughts back with me.

Here’s my list of Things That Inspire:

Seeing true bravery in people – massive bits of bravery like speaking up or speaking out or little bits of bravery, like trying something new

The ocean

Meaningful lyrics

Melodies which haunt

Words which move me

My nieces & nephews – for their energy, wisdom and ability to make me belly laugh

Cities at night

Swimming

Flying… I get weirdly lyrical & thoughtful on flights…

Anyone who asks these sorts of questions – stopping me in my tracks & asking me to think….

And a good, balanced wine – how do they do that?

Gorgeous scents like orange peel or perfume or cut grass or aftershave

Shameless eye contact

Bright, cold, clear mornings….

A fast ski run

Old gnarly trees

Running freely

Hearts on sleeves

A good coffee

A great conversation

Intimacy

Dancing with a dirty big grin on your face

Staring up at a massive star-filled sky

My folks still being loved up after a lifetime together


I’m running on behalf of Alzheimer’s Scotland for the support, research and work they undertake: http://www.justgiving.com/joolstri2012

The Girl in the Red Light District Window

 

Nieuwmarkt is warm. It’s 11 am and already the temperature here is creeping up beyond 22 degrees. The market has served us well. Coffee, fresh juice general buzziness,  and we wander, as tourists do, heading off the market to the cooler side streets. Laughing at the English boys in the café – beer & joints already started, shirts off, noisy, preening.

And to my left, in a window at street level, is a girl.

Dressed only in black underwear with pink edging, we are eye to eye. Almost. She is tiny. 5ft 2 perhaps. I tower over her.

What I notice is this: she is so young. Her belly is drum-taut and pierced with a pink stud which matches her underwear. Her long light brown hair spills over her shoulders. Her skin is brown-perhaps-fake-tanned. She is pretty, maybe even beautiful. She is so young…..

And I look away.  I hadn’t expected her. At 11 in the morning on a hot sunny day. I am… Shocked, horrified, curious, baffled, angry…. My mind goes straight to what she is there to do… the men to be touched and pleasured…the strangers who will have intimate access to her … the cold hard reality of money-for-sex.

The silver haired American couple wandering in the opposite direction see her too. The woman comments “I guess she got the early shift today”…. And it’s so banal….. so strangely normal but completely abnormal….. I’m unsteady for a second. Like the world has just backflipped on me.

I look again for a moment  and the Girl looks…what? Bored? Resigned?  Dead behind the eyes? Ready for business? What Is that look?

I wonder if I am a prude? Naïve? This lack-of-coolness with what is before me.. surely I just need to get with it…. But I am not alright with this. It leaves me cold and strangely scared…the world I live in does not allow for young girls in windows selling their precious selves to strangers…. And yet I’m face to face with that very reality. What the Hell is going on?

As I walk away, I want to talk to this girl.. Ask her how did she end up here? No…I don’t want to ask her how she ended up because that would mean this is the end…I want to ask how she has come to be here. In street window on a bright  Friday morning, opposite half naked English teenagers who are goading each other to have a go; looking out at elderly Americans and a curvy Scottish Woman who can’t quite meet her eye…

All day she flitted in and out of my mind.  I find myself wondering if she is a self-employed, gloriously empowered, strong, sassy woman who has chosen this as a means to some other end? Or is she pimped, trafficked passport taken, a powerless victim, voiceless and forced here? Is she educated? Cared for? Loved?  In Love?  What does she think of her body? What does she think of others’ bodies? Does she enjoy sex? Where does she live? What are her dreams?

And later, back at the hotel, I google Red Light District and mostly, sites talk about the sex trade & the history… but I can’t find the answers to the questions above…other than that, since 2000, the girls have to pay taxes…

36 hours on and I’ve made no more sense of it all…and we’re heading back to Nieuwmarket tonight  to a restaurant that has come highly recommended….How. Very. Odd.

http://www.amsterdam.info/links/info/
Image courtesy of http://www.amsterdam.info/links/info