Sunday, June 10, 2018

The old man that gave me candy

This week, Alabama held its primary elections, and my town relocated some of our polling places. Two of the new polling locations shared a parking lot, so there was a good deal of confusion as to where to go vote. As I walked in to where I thought I should be, I saw several other voters that looked as unsure as I was about whether we were in the right place. One couple stood out.

They were an older couple, walking slowly down the long hall, following the signs pointing us in the direction we needed to go. I made eye contact with the wife, as she patiently waited for her husband to make his way down the long hall, using his cane. We exchanged smiles as I walked past, and then, she spoke up, “Excuse me. Do you know if they have a wheelchair around here that he could use? This is a long way for him to walk.” I didn’t, but told her that I would go find out and rushed down the hall to find a volunteer.

The volunteer came to meet them and it was determined that we were all, in fact, in the wrong place, and needed to go across the parking lot. The wife looked a little defeated, so I offered to go find someone else to try to get a wheelchair. She explained to her husband what was happening, and he just turned around and resolutely started making slow progress back towards the door.
It was time for a new plan: I offered to stay walking with him so she could get her car and pull up to the front of the building. She agreed and hustled to go get the car.
I wanted to make conversation, so I asked, “Is that your sweetheart?”
His face brightened, and he said, “She sure is. Been married for 73 years!”
I was blown away. “”73 years? That’s amazing.”
He smiled and paused his slow progress towards the door. I could tell that he was excited to talk about her. “No, she’s amazing. We are both veterans. We both served in the Navy in World War II. I was over there when they dropped the bomb and she was a nurse. When we came home, we got married right away. After what we saw, we didn’t want to waste any time. The funny thing is that when we came home, we couldn’t even vote because we were too young.”
Again, I was blown away. “Wait – you couldn’t vote, even after you had served?” (Note to self: brush up on history…)
“The law didn’t change until many years later. So, I waited until I turned 21, and I haven’t missed a vote since.” I could tell by the way he was moving that he wasn’t going to miss the chance today, either. He was making determined progress towards the door. I could see that his wife had pulled up to the front and was craning to see him.

“Well, let’s make sure you get there today.” I escorted him towards the door, and right before we passed through, he paused and reached into his pocket. He smiled, winked and handed me a Bit O’Honey candy. “Since you’ve been so sweet…”
I thanked him, put the candy in my pocket, helped him get in the car and watched as his wife drove him across the parking lot to the other polling place. As I walked to my own car, I pulled the candy out of my pocket and smiled. I love the idea that he carried around candy in his pocket, and that he decided to share it with me that day. I loved even more getting to hear about their time in the service and getting to witness a love that spanned over seven decades.
I don’t think I’ll eat that candy. Instead, I will keep it as a reminder of getting to meet that sweet couple that day, of their love story, of their service and of what happens when I take a few minutes to make connections with the people around me.

Monday, May 28, 2018

She was right to be nervous, but I wish she didn't have to be

An interaction happened at my daughter's soccer practice last month that has stayed with me ever since. A cluster of parents were sitting on the sidelines, and an African-American woman approached us with her hand extended, holding a set of car keys. She showed them to the few of us seated together and asked "Are these yours? Did anyone drop a set of keys?"

I looked long enough to realize they weren't mine, smiled and said, "No, but thanks for asking." The other parents did the same and all shook their heads. 

She frowned, sighed and said under her breath, "I wish I had never picked these things up."

Trying to be helpful, one of the dads offered a suggestion. "Why don't you go to the parking lot and hit the alarm button. That'll tell you which car it is, and the alarm will get the attention of the car owner. You can hand them off that way." He smiled and sat back in his seat, proud of himself for coming up with such a simple solution. 

She shook her head and said, "Thanks, but I can't do that." 

He offered a different tactic. "Or maybe don't hit the alarm, but see which car unlocks and just leave the keys on the windshield."

She shook her head and started to walk away, "Thanks, but I can't do that either. I'll just keep making the rounds."

This man looked at all of us, and shrugged his shoulders. "Well, I tried. I don't know why that wouldn't work."

The woman turned back around, chagrined and said, "I would love to be able to do that, but it's just not an option for me. You don't think it would cause some drama if a black woman was wandering around a parking lot randomly trying to unlock a car? Or making the alarm go off, holding keys that aren't hers? Thanks, but I can't risk someone calling the cops on me. I need to be able to take my son home tonight." Then, she turned to go approach the next cluster of parents on the soccer field to our right. 

We all resumed watching our kids play, and after a heavy pause, the dad commented, "Does she really think that someone might call the cops? She's just trying to be helpful. Man, that's crazy." 

But is it? 

In the month since that happened, the news has reported on a series of incidents much like the one she was afraid of. Whether it was a student falling asleep in a college library or a real estate investor checking out a new property, over and over, a white person has called the police to report "suspicious activity" by a black person, when there was really no suspicious activity at all. 

So, this woman did have a right to be nervous. Her instinct to do a nice thing by picking up lost keys  turned into something that she legitimately worried may prevent her from being able to drive her son home from soccer practice for fear of having the police called on her. 

It has stuck with me ever since. I know that all of us seated together that night learned a memorable lesson about privilege. I also know that unless we all keep talking about it with each other, things will never change - and I want them to change. I want those kids playing out on the soccer field that night to grow up in a culture that doesn't assume bad intentions based on the color of their skin. I want those kids to have the true freedom to walk around in the world, without fear of being interrogated or questioned. 

And you know what? I want it for their parents, too. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Crying in front of strangers

A few weeks ago, I was at one of my many doctors' appointments - this time, the endocrinologist, and he said that he was going to recommend some additional blood work to see what is going on my thyroid gland. (Spoiler alert: it's fine.) It had been a long week at work, a long week at home, and a long few weeks of feeling like I was getting lots of tests and no answers. So, to learn that I had to have MORE tests was not what I wanted to hear.

It was the end of the day for the lab where he sent me to have my blood drawn too. The helpful nurse in his office recommended I scurry over before they closed for the afternoon. So, I ran (literally ran) down the hallway to the lab, and sure enough, they were closed. I tucked my tail and went back to the doctor's office to report my failure, and the helpful nurse offered to escort me down the hallway to the lab to see if she would have better luck than I did.

When we got to the door, she knocked, and a very frustrated woman came to the door. "Can I help you?" The helpful nurse explained what I needed, and the lab technician told her that it was too late because she was already shut down for the night. As the helpful nurse tried to plead on my behalf, I felt the end of my nose start to tingle and my cheeks get hot, and I knew that I was going to cry.

Embarrassed, I scurried towards the elevator and mumbled that I would just come back another day. Helpful Nurse insisted, "No, we can work this out." Lab Lady wasn't feeling it, but saw that I was crying and said I could come on in. Helpful Nurse came over to the elevator, took me by the hand, and led me back to the lab and told me to call her the next day for a follow up appointment.

Lab Lady went about getting everything set up to get what the doctor had ordered, and I just sat there and cried, silently. I was worn out, exhausted, frustrated, scared - and hitting the road block of the lab being closed (which would have meant taking more time off of work, delayed results, etc.) was the straw that broke this camel's back. I am not a huge fan of crying to begin with, much less in front of strangers, so I was mortified on top of everything else.

I apologized, trying to explain why I was so upset and thanked her for reopening the lab after she had already closed down for the day (a few minutes early, but who's counting?). She simply said, "We all have days like that. Don't worry about it." Then, she took the blood efficiently and sent me on my way.

Fast forward to my follow up appointment where the doctor says that since my thyroid has turned out to be fine that he wants to check my pituitary gland, and wants to get more lab work done. (Another spoiler alert: it's fine, too.) Imagine my dread when I was sent back to see Lab Lady for the follow up tests. I walked in to the lab, signed in and sat down to wait. No more than 20 seconds later, she called me back.

I debated whether I should acknowledge that I was "The Crier" from a few weeks earlier, but decided to let sleeping dogs lie and stay silent while she went about getting everything ready for my blood draw. I was looking out the window trying to avoid eye contact, when I heard her sniff and turned to face her.

Her eyes were brimmed with tears, and her lips were pursed tightly. She was doing everything she could not to cry. I asked, "Are you okay?" and she quickly apologized. I waved it off and asked her again, "Please don't apologize. You seem upset. Are you okay?" This time, she didn't hold back. She told me about how her mom had passed away a year prior, and that today, on the anniversary, she was missing her even more than she expected. She'd had an extremely vivid dream about her the night before and when she woke up and realized that it was only a dream, she was feeling the loss all over again.

I asked her if it was alright if I hugged her, and she nodded. So, I stood there and hugged Lab Lady as she cried for a solid five minutes. When she ran out of steam, she pulled back and apologized again. I said, "Please don't apologize. I don't know if you remember me or not, but I was in here crying just last week! Now, we are even!" Then, I asked her to tell me about her mom and what she loved most about her. She brightened and started telling me about some of the many wonderful memories of her mom while she started to take my blood again.

After she was finished and I was getting ready to head out the door, I asked her if she was going to be alright. She assured me she would and thanked me for being there when she needed some comfort. I thanked her for allowing me to fall apart the week prior and said, "I guess our paths were destined to cross for just that reason!"

We will probably never see each other again (no offense, but I hope not because I am all done with getting blood drawn, thankyouverymuch!), but I am so glad that we were able to come full circle and see each other just one more time. After feeling so embarrassed about my own crying, I didn't want to even make eye contact with her - and it turned out that I was in the perfect position to be there for her because of the very fact that I had cried in the first place. It always amazes me how God can line that up, if we are paying attention.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Me too.

About fifteen years ago, I had a #metoo experience, while working as the Assistant Program Director of a radio station in Connecticut. My station was part of a four-station cluster, and we shared a large break room/cafeteria space. That space was right across the hall from my office, which meant that I had a high volume of visitors as people from all of the stations came and went to eat their breakfast or lunch. Usually, as an extrovert, I loved all of the activity, but some days, when I was under a deadline, I longed for some quiet.

One day, after I had been working there about a year and a half, I was heating up my lunch during a rare quiet moment in the break room, planning on scurrying back to my office to eat at my desk. The morning show host from one of the other stations came in to get a cup of coffee. He was a large, stocky man, twice my age, with a big ego, and usually, a bad attitude. I never really had much reason to talk to him, but I wanted to be polite. So, we made chit chat, and he drank his coffee while my food heated up. The microwave dinged to let me know my food was ready, and I grabbed it and headed towards my office. He tossed his coffee cup in the trash and continued to make conversation as he followed closely behind me.

I remember that he changed the topic to the upcoming Christmas party, as I put my lunch down on my desk and turned around to try to politely dismiss him so I could eat and get back to work. As I turned around, he was already in my personal space, and before I knew what was happening, he had reached both arms around me, with his hands on my backside and pulled me forcefully against him, asking if I was going to dance with him at the Christmas party. His voice was hot and low in my ear, and a shiver of disgust ran through my entire body. I pushed him away with both hands, and said, as clearly as I could, "I don't think so."

He chuckled, and said, "We'll see." Then, he smirked and backed out of the room, hands up in mock innocence.

I slumped down in my desk chair to collect myself, and immediately, started wondering what I had done to make him think I would welcome an advance like that. I questioned what signals I may have been putting out unintentionally or what I may have said that would make him think I would be receptive to him. For the rest of the entire day, I was distracted, sullen and quiet.

The next day didn't feel any better. Neither did the day after that, or the one that followed. I was anxious every time I heard his voice in the hallway, and I didn't want to go into the break room for fear of running into him again. I could have sworn that he was purposely hanging outside of my doorway having conversations with our co-workers to try to make me uncomfortable.

At the end of the week, I finally decided to say something to one of my fellow female managers that worked in a different department. She listened as I laid out the details, and I asked her, after I recounted them all, "What did I do to bring this on?" She looked me straight in the eye and said, "Absolutely nothing" and encouraged me to report him to our General Manager.

I was nervous about going to our General Manager - not because of how I worried that she would respond, but because I didn't want to be perceived as a troublemaker or a tattletale. Working in the radio industry came with certain expectations of big personalities, people that pushed the envelope, actions that were meant to get a reaction or be perceived as funny. As the manager of one of our stations, I was worried that by talking to our General Manager, that I would be seen as someone that couldn't take a joke or was too uptight. We had a very fun, light-hearted environment at work, and I didn't want to do anything that changed that.

After a few days to weigh the pros and cons, I ultimately decided that I needed to speak up, if for no other reason, in case he would do something similar to one of the women that worked for me. The GM could not have been kinder when I did. She listened, took notes, and promised to get to the bottom of it.

True to her word, she conducted an investigation, but the end result was a case of "he said, she said". He claimed complete innocence, saying it never happened, that he wasn't even in my office at all that day. There were no witnesses that happened to walk by to corroborate either of our accounts of the events of that day. There were no security cameras to capture any of our movements that day either.

Our final discussion on the matter was when she told me that there was really nothing that she could do. She said she believed me, but that without any definitive proof, there was too much liability to take any action against him. She had advised him to steer clear of my office and the space outside, and advised me to keep a "buddy" around to avoid any future incidents. That was the best solution to the problem: avoid being alone.

Every day until the day his contract wasn't renewed and left the company, I walked around on edge. Thankfully, it was only a few months after our incident that his contract expired.

In the scope of workplace harassment incidents, mine is very minor. I know that. But I am telling it because I have heard a lot of backlash with questions about "Why did it take so long for them to speak up?" or "Why didn't she report it at the time?" or "What part did she play in encouraging it?" I think stories like mine are a large part of the reason that so many women didn't come forward until now. Even though I did come forward, the burden of proof was really on me to establish that it was a credible story and I wasn't able to do so. So, he was able to skate free, with no consequences.

This guy was not in a position of power over me and had no say in my employment, but I can imagine that if he were, it would be even more difficult to feel comfortable coming forward. I know, for a fact, that I did nothing to encourage this man, either. The women that I reported the incident to could not have been more supportive or responsive, and yet, I still had trepidation about coming forward. I can only imagine what it would be like to have to go report to a manager that didn't have the same reputation for being kind and open.

It's not cut and dry. This is a tricky conversation because we do want to presume someone is innocent until proven guilty, and we do have a statute of limitations on these types of activities. This is also tricky because we don't want men and women to think they can't interact at all without opening the door to being harassed or being accused of being a harasser.

At the time of my incident, the best solution was just not to be alone. I think we can do better today. If the solution to this issue is teaching women how to defend themselves or avoid being harassed, then, we are looking at the problem from the wrong perspective. The answer must lie with teaching everyone how to treat each other with respect, regardless of gender or other differences. If the solution proposed is a system that makes it simpler to report an incident, than we are acquiescing to a culture that allows for these incidents to continue to occur. If we are relying on the victims to start "feeling brave enough" to come forward, then, we aren't taking enough responsibility for our behavior in looking out for those that may be vulnerable and correcting those that show signs of the aggressive behavior. Any solution that involves getting the victims to take different actions is really just clearing away the cobwebs when what we should really be focused on is eliminating the spider that is creating them.

I don't have an answer that will solve all of this, but I do know that part of the solution has to be for anyone who has had an experience to be able to speak up and be heard. Recently, I heard a male colleague say that he wished that we could just get to a place where this wasn't an issue and we all just treated each other respectfully, as the human beings we all are.

Me too.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Sometimes, it's alright for everybody to get a trophy

When Diana was three, she took ballet lessons through a company that came to her day care during the day. It was perfect for us - she got to try it out to see if she like it, and Steven and I were spared having to race to get her somewhere after school.

At the end of the year, they had a recital for the parents to see what they learned over the year. In the weeks leading up to the recital, there were several rounds of paperwork and forms to fill out to make sure that everyone had the right costume and knew where to be at the right time. Normally, paperwork and forms fall to me to fill out, since I am the keeper of the family calendar.

The recital was a big deal! We invited both sets of Diana's grandparents to come, and got there early to make sure we had a good seat on the end of the aisle for my dad (who has a little trouble getting around). Steven went to scout out the seats, and I went to check Diana in and wrangle her into her costume.
When we checked in, they gave her two different bracelets, and I couldn't quite figure out why. They told me that one was to make sure that they knew she had checked in, and mumbled something about the other one was for something we had signed up for. I assumed it was something like a group photo, and just hurried Diana backstage.

We sat through about 90 minutes of other kids' dance routines, until finally, it was her big moment. We all craned our necks to see and beamed at her from our seats. She looked so proud of herself as she and her friends executed the little routine that they had been working on all year.

It said in the program that they asked all audience members to stay seated until the end of the program out of respect to the other kids dancing, but since my dad needed a little extra time to get up and moving, we decided that we would exit after Diana and get my dad out to his car before the mad rush.

As we were starting to sneak towards the exit, I heard the emcee announce that all of the dancers that were getting trophies would be coming to the stage and encouraged applause for each dancer. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw little Diana standing at the end of a row of about 12 girls, all much older than she was, just smiling away and looking so proud.

In a panic, I hunched down, turned to Steven and whispered, "Is that Diana? What is she doing up there?"

He looked clueless and equally panicked, and then, I saw a realization come over his face. He said, "I think I signed her up for a trophy."

Dumbfounded, I asked, "Why would you sign her up for a trophy? They were only for kids that have been dancing with the company for three years!"

He shot back, "I don't know! There were lots of forms, and one day, the lady at the front desk asked me if you had signed all the papers, and just to make sure I signed all of them. I was trying to be helpful!"

Now, my stomach was totally sinking, "But they were only for girls that have been dancing for three years."

"Well, I don't know. I was in a hurry, so when I saw the thing about a trophy, I said 'Hell, yes, I want my baby to get a trophy. I didn't read it all the way through."

I heard the emcee ask all of the parents of the children getting trophies to come down to the front to collect them after they had received it, and I realized that one of us were going to have to go down front. Steven just started laughing, pointed at me, and then, down to the front of the stage, where the other parents were already gathering with their balloons and bouquets of flowers. Steven headed towards the back to help my dad to the door, and I slunk down towards the front trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do to get Diana off the stage before she got a trophy that she wasn't supposed to get.

I crouched in the front of the stage next to a small group of moms, and the woman next to me, leaned over and asked, "Which one is yours?" as she looked at my empty hands and panicked expression. I silently pointed towards the smallest girl at the very end of the line, who had no idea that she wasn't supposed to be there. When she looked at me with a puzzled look on her face, I said, "My husband misunderstood the form, and signed her up. I had no idea this was going to happen." She started laughing, and said, "Well, didn't they give you the rundown when you got her wristbands?"

Then, I started laughing, "So, THAT is what the extra wristband was for!"

She smiled gently, and pulled a few stems out of the bouquet in her arms, and said, "Your baby deserves some flowers if she's going to get a trophy." Then, she got up to go collect her (much older) child and her trophy.

Up on the stage, the emcee got to Diana at the end of the line, and asked her to introduce herself. With the poise of a Miss America contestant, she looked straight out at the audience, leaned into the microphone, and said, "Diana Dawn Bailey". Everyone started clapping, and she started jumping up and down from excitement. I ran up on the stage to collect her and escort her back to where she had gotten dressed, and she jumped up into my arms, yelling, "Momma, I got a trophy!"

I hugged her tightly, and carried her offstage, and just said, "Yes, you did, baby. Yes, you did."

Because sometimes, it's alright when everybody gets a trophy.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The night I forgot the words to the Star Spangled Banner

Facebook reminded me this morning that nine years ago today, I had one of the most embarrassing nights of my life. However, in the years since, it has turned out to be one of my favorite stories to tell. It's funny how time changes our perspective life that.

When I lived in Connecticut, Damon Scott, the afternoon personality on the radio station I worked for, also worked for the local AHL team, the Hartford Wolfpack. He was the guy that went out on the ice between periods to get the crowd to play games or ran around the stands giving away prizes. Every so often, I would join him or fill in for him if he had a conflict - the team even made me my own special jersey.

One day, while waiting to go out on the ice, it came up in conversation that one time, I had sung the National Anthem for the local WNBA team, the Connecticut Suns.

I told them if they ever ended up in a pinch without someone to sing, I would be glad to help out. They said they would call if they did, but I honestly thought it was never going to happen. 

So, on the afternoon of October 29, 2008, we got a call at the station that someone had backed out for that night, and they asked if I could cover. I was nervous, but I agreed to sing that night. I hustled down to the Civic Center, arriving just in time to go out for the anthem.

They laid out a red carpet on the ice for me to walk on, and handed me a microphone. The lights dimmed and the announcer said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the singing of our National Anthem. Tonight, it will be sung by 96.5 TIC's Jeannine Jersey". I walked out, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and started singing.

"Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light...."

I remember thinking, "This isn't so bad. I was nervous for nothing," and then, I opened my eyes.

"What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming..."

I looked around the arena as I sang, and saw the men with their hats in their hands, the children with their hands over their hearts, and felt proud to be asked to be part of this great tradition.

"Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight..."

Then, I looked up at the Jumbotron, and caught a glimpse of myself on the big screen - and something felt really wrong. My lips seemed out of sync for what I was singing. (I know now that the video just had a slight delay, but in real time, I didn't understand what I was seeing.)

"O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming..."

And I froze. I was so thrown off by what I saw on the Jumbotron that I completely lost my place in the song, a song that I had sung hundreds of times before. I paused, hoping it would come back to me - and there was NOTHING. My hand holding the microphone dropped to my side.

The silence was deafening. My face turned red. I felt lightheaded, like I was going to pass out from embarrassment. My eyes started to burn with tears about to fall. I had frozen in front of all of those people, and had no idea what to do.

Then, behind me, I heard one of the guys that worked for the Wolfpack, started to sing at the top of lungs. "And the rockets red glare...."

The people sitting in the section next to where he was standing joined in and started singing too: "The bombs bursting in air..."

And soon, the whole arena was singing, "Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there...."

I laughed, looked at my friend with gratitude, picked up the mic, and joined in. "Oh, say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave...O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave..."

The crowd cheered, laughed and clapped as I gave a small wave and scurried off the red carpet and back into the dark recesses of the arena under the stands.

I was mortified - more embarrassed than I could ever remember being in my entire life, but was already laughing at what had just happened. I remember thinking, "If I don't find a way for this to be funny, I am never going to get over it."

So, I started looking for the humor in the situation, and for the lessons I could take away from the experience. Here's what I learned:
1. You can't actually die from embarrassment. Sure, that moment was awful - but I survived it and many other embarrassing moments since.
2. Sometimes, one voice in the silence can make all the difference. My friend saw that I was in trouble and put his own pride aside to help me. I'll never forget his kindness.
3. Help is contagious. When others heard him, they joined in, and together, we got through it.
4. I have a choice - when I make a big mistake, I can let it define me and wallow or I can find the humor in it or lessons from it, and move forward, stronger.

Just last week, I was sharing this story with some co-workers and a woman that was in our office interviewing for a job. We were all laughing because, let's face it, it's kind of hilarious. I love sharing this story now, and I am glad that time has given me the perspective to see how funny it really is!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Warm crow tastes better than cold crow

Have you ever held on to something for way longer than it served any good purpose? A resentment or guilt about something you had done? Have you ever experienced what it's like when you really let it go?

Many years ago, I made a big mistake at work - and it cost the company some money. I exercised some really poor judgement, and to make it worse, I never owned up to it directly. I let my boss think someone else was to blame, and never set the record straight before I left to take another job a few months later.

Instead of looking at what I had done, it was easier to think about what I imagined the management there had done to me (paid me too little, worked me too many hours and many other minor imagined injustices). The longer I let it go without owning up to it, the more I felt justified in doing so. I spent a lot of time, effort and energy thinking about this incident and the people I used to work for - every time I did, shame, guilt and resentment boiled to the surface.

Years later, I had a valued mentor point out that I was letting this incident take up valuable real estate in my head and that I had all the power in the world to make it go away. She suggested that I write a letter to them and own up to what I had done and offer to pay them back. She told me to pray about the situation, pray for the right words, and pray for all of the people involved.

Begrudgingly, I did what she suggested.

I'll admit that I didn't feel better instantly. I kept the people involved in my prayers for weeks. I still thought about that situation from time to time in the months after sending the letter, but then, somewhere along the way, it left me. I am not sure when, but it did and here's how I realized it.

Fast forward to this past weekend, when my sister (who still lives in the same town) ran into my former boss at a concert. She texted me to tell me - and it actually took me a few minutes to even remember who she was talking about. When I finally remembered who she was talking about, I didn't have an emotional reaction or weird feeling - there was nothing. No shame. No guilt. No resentment. Nothing.

My sister followed up with a photo of the two of them together, and it made me smile. My former boss looks great, and I told my sister to share my good wishes to her. It actually made my heart happy to see her smiling face, and I spent a few minutes thinking about the good memories of my time working for her.

If you had told me when the incident happened that I would be better served to own up to my mistake than to stay quiet, I would have told you that you were dead wrong. If you had told me that I could feel that way about my former boss, I would have told you that you were crazy. If you had told me that I didn't have to carry around those negative feelings for so many years, I would have argued with you that I was justified to do so.

I was wrong. It was actually more freeing to tell the truth and to own up to my mistake. The freedom I got from saying a few prayers and sending a letter was a thousand times better than the short term effort of doing so.

I've heard it said that "warm crow tastes better than cold crow" - and I know that to be true. It is way easier to make amends when the incident is still fresh and feelings are still injured. If I let it fester, I can turn it into something bigger and worse than it really is. Worse, if I let it fester, I can make it someone else's fault and convince myself I don't have anything to make amends for at all.

There's a 100% chance that I will make (many) mistakes again - hopefully, they will be new ones and not repeats, but I will make them. This experience was a powerful reminder that the real freedom comes from owning up to them and not in getting away with them.