February 9, 2016: Day 64

Catch phrases of the day: Human Identity and Relationship Depth

The night ended with a great win by Creighton with success over 5th ranked Xavier on the basketball court. I have been a Creighton season ticket holder for over thirteen years. Over this time period, I have watched some great ball players from the Kyle Korver era to Doug McDermott days of late.

The years and seasons are identified in my mind by the great coaches and players that represented each year and by the success they brought to the court. Some successes are defined in wins and other times by player accomplishments.

Many of my favorite players, like the big-hearted and wide-grinned Josh Jones, warmed our hearts with their level of effort. Josh, and many others like him, were not the high scorers but were just great athletes of character that helped mold their winning teams.

With each passing year, there is a last home game and senior night with a group of the players graduating and moving on to their post-college years. But their identity to their season and team lives on with the many fans who watched them.

Although not to the extent of a college athlete on center stage to hundreds of thousands of cheering fans, we each gain our identity through our own 'teams' through the years.

My day started with coffee with a long-time professional acquaintance. We originally met as mutual Jays fans. Over the years our paths crossed in our businesses and the high schools our sons attended. Although we weren't part of the same business or school, we identified with each other by the our personal representations.

As my friend asked about my time at Lutz and Think and my kids' years at Skutt, I reflected that this same conversation, or variation of this conversation, has been happening frequently on my listening tour. People clearly identify me with my workplaces, my family, and organizations I have supported. No resume necessary. It's what they've picked up about me on my journey.

Human identity. An interesting study.

The kicker is that each person develops their own safety blanket of human identity with the people and circumstances they surround themselves with over the years. I remember distinctly how comfortable I felt identifying myself as the long-time wife of a police officer, mother of three boys, and 20 year employee of Lutz. I would proudly point out that my husband was a lieutenant, I was a partner in the firm, and would then name my kids' schools. I wore it like a badge. My human identity was a warmth blanket of acceptance.

And then we got divorced. And then I left Lutz. For months and years, I would run into people who didn't know of the life changes on identities they so strongly associated with me. Initially I dreaded these conversations and the change in my elevator speech, but I quickly accepted that it was a just new chapter.

The difficult part for me is in accepting the change in those relationships associated with these pieces of my identity.

This is where I have learned the importance in the depth of our relationships. Life changes bring this front and center. My more recent life changes of a second marriage to a Denver man, my leaving employment at Think, and my kids moving on from their school years have highlighted both the good and bad of these relationships.

With school, each passing era means teams and classes are only left as a footnote in the yearbook. Relationships with the other parents either flourish without the commonalities of our kids or mirror our kids as they move on.

Think has it's own personal identity in a big building. My personal association with it and the size of the project both shocked and intrigued many in my professional circle. They strongly associated me with Lutz. My leaving Lutz was probably as big of a shock as my divorce. Growing up in 'the firm' for twenty-two years built an identity in the community that still remains strong today.

And then I left Think. Personal identity changes that were a strong part of my identity are now on overload. Questions on my choice of a new 'team' is the most frequently question asked of me. I seem to be less worried about that than my kind friends and associates. There are many great options. The key is for me to take the time to make the right choice that's the best fit.

What weighs heavily on my mind are the relationships that are directly associated with each of the organizations and roles that are linked to my identity, past and current. When change happens, relationships change as well. I am a relationship person. People are important to me. Human connection and how I carry myself as a human rank high on my 'must have' list. So when I reflect on my own personally road map, I don't take lightly the people I meet along the way.

The interesting study is resulting relationships once you are no longer actively sharing life day-to-day. My struggle is that I many times put higher expectations on people I have grown to trust than they want or are capable of giving. I think this is a common flaw of most people. When you have life-changing events, you quickly learn the true depth of your relationships.

Now that I have experienced many life changes, I have come to embrace the history and the relationships built on each stepping stone rather than erase it. Each has been just a path in my personal road map. And the many relationships have been the sun, moon, and stars long the way. Almost all are still there as part of my life.

Upon reflecting, very few have disappointed and most continue even stronger as the years go on. I have to remind myself of this as I hand-wring over those relationships that ultimately lacked the depth I perceived. They are the stones on the path that are left behind and a part of life. The focus shouldn't be on the stone taken out of the shoe, but the warmth of the sun and the enjoyment of the many stars in the sky. They never go away.

Life is good. It has been a good run. I am proud of each piece of my identity that has evolved over the years. And variety in experiences and relationships is ultimately a good thing. It brings spice to life and makes the road more interesting as I continue my walk (or run...) of life.

Grant with friends, Nick and Tim.
My last 'hooray' as a Skutt mom


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