Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29, 2016: Sunday Mass and More

(Grant, Ryan, Nick, Sean)
First Sunday of summer break
Summer break is official now for both of my kids still in school. With this annual reprieve comes the balancing act around fun vs. responsibility. As you can surmise, I lean on the side of responsibility while the kids lean on the side of fun. A battle at times, but usually with some resulting balance.

At age twenty, Ben is becoming an old pro at this feat. He started his forty-hour-a-week labor job last week. Up at seven, he knows that improper balancing of fun and responsibility lead to long work days. Needless to say, he is taking full advantage of this long Memorial Day weekend, knowing his Tuesday 6:30 a.m. wake up call will be here soon enough.

But it does typically take about a week for Ben to make the full adjustment. Grant is in that one week zone right now. With finals completed last Thursday at noon and a week off before summer football begins, I can hardly hold him down.

"But, Mom, it's my first day of summer!" (response to my request to help move a relative)

"But Mom, it's my first weekend of summer!" (response to my list of chores and other family weekend responsibilities)

Oh, to be sixteen again.

As a seasoned forty-eight year old, I am well aware that every day is the first day of something. I love an excuse for fun, but I also know that the responsibilities in my life don't just go away. Ignored, they will either build up or blow up.

Now the tricky part is to teach this to an uber-social sixteen year-old. With a seemingly large box of chocolates to choose from, his brain is in constant overdrive. But if he forgets to brush his teach or doesn't stop to offer some of his chocolates to others, the novelty will soon wear off.

I know this to be true. Trying to convince a sixteen year-old that I do have helpful knowledge (and that I ultimately call the shots) is not an easy task. But somehow, although many times painful, we seem to get there. Responsibility does eventually get weaved into his social calendar.

Today I was reminded of the relevance of 'the path of least resistance'.

I first thought about it last night with Grant. He was bucking me on wanting friends overnight and with their own Sunday agenda. It would have been so easy for me have said 'uncle' and let him run. My teenage debater can wear a mother down.

As our conversation on these logistics began last night, the path of least resistance seemed so tempting. I could have given in and let him run his show while I enjoyed a quiet Saturday night at home. The thought of waking up to a relaxed pace of coffee and news reading before church with no teenagers was equally alluring.

But with better judgment, I chose the other path (the one with the most resistance). This one deals with teenage pleadings and incessant attempts to negotiate the situation. Exhausting. But in the end, my persistence and firm message prevailed.

Three of Grant's friends spent the night last night, but knowing we would all be attending 11:00 a.m. mass in the morning together. And with no arguments or further discussion.

And that's exactly what happened. With Garrett in the driver's seat, we piled into my car and walked into the Boys Town church doors with ten minutes to spare. Father Val Peter, the eighty-two year-old patriarch of Boys Town parish soon walked to the pulpit. A surprise to me as I hadn't seen this priest, whom I admire greatly, in years.

I have long loved the mission of Boys Town. As a young girl I remember touring the campus during a family vacation to Omaha. On my bookcase is an hardback book on Father Flanagan that was owned by my grandmother. Neatly folded inside is her tour map and notes from her own trip in the 1960's.

Once I became an Omaha resident, I enjoyed many years of events on Boys Town campus and friendships with the people who continue it's great mission and run the many facets of this institution today.

But there is something specifically about Father Val that will always make me smile. Although most of my observations of this colorful character are from afar, I once spent the day with him at an archdiocesan retreat. I was thrilled to find out that he was the real deal. As genuine as they come.

Today I was again reminded of his great heart and conviction. Val gave his trademark sermon (short but spot-on) with the four boys sitting to my left listening to his every word. The words were few, but powerful, and weaved in with a real life Val story. I sat through mass watching the quirky priest while being constantly reminded of how much I like the man.

Although it's easy to feel affection toward Fr. Val, I have a high degree of admiration for him as well. After pondering how best to summarize this to my non-Omahan husband, it became clear to me.

In the many, many years of Fr. Val leading Boys Town, he has always governed by doing the right things for the right reasons. I have never observed him taking the path of least resistance. Ever. Stories on Fr. Val center on his passion for what is right, pushing him to most times take the difficult paths. And I greatly admire him for it.

The path of least resistance is the easy way out. I see it happen all the time in both my professional and personal life. I have never observed those employing this approach with thoughts of 'gee, I want to be just like them'. Rarely are these actions remarkable or with a lasting positive impact.

No pain, no gain applies outside of physical activity.

So my little bit of pain in teenage battling led to a nice mass for all of us. Father Val was just frosting on the cake. And a great reminder of how eighty-two years of doing good and fighting the hard battles can pay off and create a lasting positive impact.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016: BIG Mistake

Two days of accumulated heels after another 'hard days work'
These boots were made for walking...

But what about the stilettos?

I am back to work. And with this leap, the yoga pants and gym shorts (with my corresponding accessories of piggy tails) have much less made their way into my dirty clothes basket. Instead, my many fancy heels and closet full of dress-up wardrobe choices have been unleashed.

Matched with the many work opportunities that are raining in on me, I do feel a bit like the clip out of the movie, Pretty Woman.

Julia Roberts plays the naive, but authentic character, Vivian. After meeting the illustrious Richard Gere character, Edward, she is trying to make her way in the world. A favorite scene in the the movie is Vivian trying her hand at shopping on Rodeo Drive.

Every woman or man over the the age of 40 knows this scene and can connect with the feeling in that moment of the movie.

(first shopping scene of the movie) Julia walks in the store wearing the wrong clothes and carrying herself as a 'misfit' in the high rent shopping district. She is publicly dissed by the uppity sales associates who couldn't get Julia out of their store fast enough.

Judgmental. Elitist. Unkind.

The following day Julia is 'dolled up', now fitting the part of high class shopper. She looks like Rodeo clientele, walking back into the same store that had previously dissed her.

Julia: Do you remember me?

Uptight sales associate: No, I'm sorry.

Julia: I was in here yesterday. You wouldn't wait on me. <pregnant pause>

Uptight sales associate: Oh...

Julia: You work on commission, right?

Uptight sales associate: Ah....yes.

Julia: BIG mistake. Huge. I have to go shopping now... <leaves the store with other expensive store bags in hand>

And just so I can emphasize the awesomeness of these scenes and add a little nostalgia for my 40-something friends, here is the original film clip....

Now, let's be honest with ourselves. We can all connect. Although the situations are different, we have had that moment of being dissed and then fighting to win back respect. And in those situations where no one experienced it with us, we all felt the audience of the common man (woman) cheering us on; the cheers of the Pretty Woman audience as we walk away with our heads held high out of our own imaginary store.

My Pretty Woman story of late involves my leaving a job. Having a bit of an exit interview, I met with a stakeholder in the organization. As I tried to make sense of what just happened over the last few days, he continued to emphasize to me that he was my meal ticket to future employment. Basically that I had no future without him.

Thank-you, Mom and Dad, for raising me both to have confidence in myself and to not feel intimidated by others. <public service announcement for all the great parents who empower their children to stick up for themselves regardless of social status or perceived power>

During this historical coffee chat, I tried to have a productive conversation, reflecting on the past while trying to best decipher the future. My appointed mentor continued to emphasize that I wouldn't be able to find a job in Omaha without his help. Confused after the third time of his repeating this same message (and my being a bit foggy and defiant), I finally thanked him for his offering of help (Mom and Dad also taught me to be polite).

Then I clearly pointed out that his concern for me was not matched with my own.

"I appreciate your concern, but if I'm not worried, you shouldn't be worried. Thank-you for your offer to help. If I need it, I will let you know."

And then I walked out the door. We haven't talked since.

Fast forward to today.

My life is full of great work and opportunities. It's hard to pick and choose. And some just plain give me the Julia Roberts giggles.

I can't emphasize enough how fulfilling life is when working with those who share the same values and goals. The cup continues to runneth over as I keep reminding myself that it is now my responsibility to pay it forward.

Rest assured, we can all do it on our own with grit, integrity, and a zest for shooting for the best. No one holds the golden key to our future, no matter how much they try to convince us otherwise.

Rise above and forge your own way while making the 'BIG mistakes' into your own opportunities.

(and it's okay to smile a big Julia Roberts smile on your way out the door....)

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016: Spontaneity

Ben's home! Off on another random drive.
A carefully planned calendar goes a long way for me. I look ahead to a weekly view full of colored-coded entries on future time commitments.

Bliss for an organized mind.

And then there are my kids. Do they accomplish a lot in a day? Yes. Do they have color-coded planners? Heck no.

The three Lane boys have many similarities and differences in their personalities. One similarity that I have always innately known, but is now officially documented, is their shared strength of 'Adaptability'. Per their individual Gallup Strengthsfinder Assessments, all three possess this as a Top 5 Talent.

Adaptability (definition per my friends at Gallup):  People exceptionally talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to go with the flow. They tend to be "now" people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

Well that pretty much sums it up. They live in the moment.

The good news is that in an effort to connect and guide my "now" children, I can deviate from my calendar and meet them halfway. Although not a dominant strength, I can live in Adaptability on occasion. Meeting halfway with the other important people in our life is a journey worth the effort.

An example of where adaptability meets organized can be chronicled with an ordinary day from last week.

Sandy (a.k.a. me or Mom), high in Activator (impatiently turns thoughts into action) is frantically strategizing ideas on a current project (Top Talent = Strategic: Faced with any given scenario can quickly spot relevant issues). My computer keyboard is on fire with the only background sound that of a lawn mower through my opened window. I am highlighting the actions items while finding resolution to the checklist of issues in front of me. I'm 'in the zone'.

Ben (a.k.a. middle child or free spirit) is working through the transition of moving from college back to home while nestling into his new quarters of the basement man cave. All while removing his mother's favored children's grade school artwork from the basement walls with replacement hockey posters and other pieces of his favored sports memorabilia.

The cleaning ladies arrive at 1:00 p.m.

Sandy, worried about her list, and Ben, worried about his man cave, came up with a departure plan. Knowing our tag team of cleaning gals perform better without either of us under foot,we simply got in my car and drove out of the neighborhood.

With two hours to blow and my computer list and his man cave to-do's left at home, we found consensus. Spontaneity. I conformed to going with the flow. This is one of our favorite mom/son activities. No plan. Just figure it out as we go.

Spontaneity took me to the Interstate as I drove without a plan. Ben instinctively knew where my thinking was going.

"Old Market, Mom?"

Me: " I thought that would be fun. We could check out progress on the M's Pub rebuild, grab lunch and then go to the candy store."

Ben: "Yeah. I knew you were thinking the candy store. I was totally thinking the Old Market candy store too."

So that's what we did. Zio's pizza for lunch while viewing progress of the M's renovation across the street. And then a leisurely walk to the corner candy and antique store. We laughed and we talked as we looked at the vintage displays and items for sale. And, of course, we bought gummie sharks and Swedish fish in bulk on our way out.

Arriving home at 4:00 p.m., the cleaning ladies were long gone. My computer and to-do lists were waiting patiently, as was Ben's man cave. Our spontaneity was golden although nothing we did was a color-coded planned event on my calendar.

Going with the flow is the best parental compromise that I make and one I probably don't do near enough. With my expectation of my highly adaptable children to have more structure, this seems like a fair compromise.

And it's amazing how my list of planned family chores and daily tasks seem less daunting when we take a little unplanned fun time on occasion. Adaptability. I can get used to this...

Shopping the antiques and 'chillin'

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 9, 2016: Kill Them with Kindness

Mother's Day activity
Mother's Day was most enjoyable. Although I wasn't able to spend it with all of my sons or my own mother, I did have a fun afternoon with Zach. The oldest. Number one child and son. The reason I was able to first celebrate this holiday in 1994.

Garrett and I met Zach in Downtown Denver with no set plans other than to find some new adventures.

Brunch was as at an Irish bar and grille. We gave it high marks for both atmosphere and food quality. The Bloody Mary was pretty good too. Our tour of downtown included a stroll through Union Station and then on to pool play and beer tasting at Wynkoop Brewery.

I was gifted a t-shirt that reads "I Love Beer" with the word love replaced with a heart filled with the Colorado logo. Also in the goody bag was a Wynkoop beer glass.

Next stop was the flagship REI store on Platte Street. With visions of Reese Witherspoon's hiking performance in Wild, I looked at the extreme hiking gear with great interest, but settled on a new pair of hiking shoes instead. The final purchase was complete with a new pair of wooden shades and striped hiking socks. Mom success.

It's amazing how my Mother's Day celebrations have changed since my first in 1994. I've gone from family dinners equipped with high chairs and kids menus to breweries and stores with adult rock climbing walls. Although I have enjoyed each one of my holidays of past, I have no complaints on these new celebration festivities.

With a phone call to my mom, I was reminded of the many years she had on me in the mothering category. Mom has been through these same seasons that I am now reflecting on, with many more for me that are yet to come. Always the one with the best, most simple advice; my mom never comes across as lecturing. She is just very perceptive and kind-hearted. A wonderful combination.

Mom was the one many years ago who hand wrote the serenity prayer for me on a small sheet of paper. In perfect cursive, it was just small enough to fit in a compartment in my wallet. When I needed it most, which at times was daily, I would read this prayer. Sometimes over and over. All while reminded of my mom, who lived 1,383 miles from me, but always feeling like she was right by my side. Or at least in my purse.

The best advice, hands down, that Mom continuously gave me was "kill them with kindness." Although at times difficult to follow, this advice has been invaluable to me over my forty-eight years.

As a teenager looking for both sympathy and a bit of retaliation, this advice didn't always bode well when I felt persecuted. My teenage angst dream was for my mom to call my perpetrator's mom to complain and stand up for me. Instead she would insist that I fight my own battles. And most importantly, to not stoop to their level. Kill them with kindness.

And most times I would listen. It's amazing how angry or passive aggressive people don't know how to react to direct kindness. Following through on this advice was a study in human nature at a young age.

The encouragement given to me was not about being a door mat, but dealing with conflict in a positive manner. Everyone can and should be nice. You don't need training or a special super power to accomplish this, just be a kind human being.

Now a seasoned adult, Mom continually reminds me of this. And the advice isn't just for conflict, it's applicable every day in every situation. People forget about kindness when stressed or pressured, or just simply not thinking. Unfortunately the mouth many times works faster than the brain.

I remember dealing with my first angry client at my first job. I was twenty-two year old and training a fifty year old business owner how to use a computer and accounting software. Keep in mind that these were the days when computers first came out and we were using floppy disks. A very long time ago.

The gruff man wasn't terribly excited to move from his manual system of bookkeeping and was furious when he found out that the new software package was different than what he was promised. With his bright red face and screaming mouth, I took in his complaints.

And then when he finally took a breath, I calmly told him I was sorry and if I were him, I would be mad too. What could I do to rectify the situation? And then he calmed down a bit to mirror my calm demeanor. I agreed to take his complaints back to my office and come back to him with a resolution.

When I later called to offer a full refund of the software and charge for training, he apologized to me for losing his temper. He also complimented me for how I handled the situation as he then realized that he was 'shooting the messenger'. I smiled as we continued to converse on next steps. My mom was so right. Kindness always wins. Anger or fighting back does not.

Kindness is also a great gift to someone in need. One never knows the journey someone else is on and how a kind word or gesture can mean the world on an otherwise horrible day. Those kind gestures are many times never forgotten and often paid forward.

My mom has also given me this gift on numerous occasions. One that I will always remember and without fail, creates my eyes to water and my throat to tighten, was a simple comment she made to me shortly before my divorce.

I had flown to Arizona to tell my parents of our impending divorce. Feeling like a failure to my family and the world, I did not take this message lightly and bore tremendous guilt on what I did to contribute to this unhappy ending. Going through the motions, Mom and I drove to run some errands. I remember our conversation and surroundings like yesterday.

Sitting in the car after parking in front of Import Corner by the Kingman Airport District, Mom stopped me before we got out of the car. She gently grabbed my wrist and looked my in the eye.

"Sandy, you are the kindest person I know. Sometimes your dad and I don't know where you came from. You always see the good. You are a good person and you will get through this better than before."

My mom, the kindness and smartest person in the world, saw me as the kind one. Something I didn't see in myself. It blew me away while putting some wind under my sail. Each time I dealt with adversity over that trying time in my life, I just thought of my mom's words. And of her ongoing advice.

Kill them with kindness.

You really can't lose.      

New M-day gifts...shades, hiking socks and shoes
(Downtown Denver in the background...a different view a day later)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May 1, 2016: Time to Launch (Part III of III)

#3 and last of my new professional pictures
Yep, time to launch. My time off has been an excellent ride, but I am now officially back in the work saddle. Reflection time is over. Clarity is in front of me; along with my LinkedIn account updated, a new Twitter account set up, and updated professional pictures taken. Lots more 'work collateral' is still in process, but I am officially back.

While working through my new business partnerships, I was asked for an updated CV (curriculum vitae) which is basically a fancy word for a resume. I hadn't updated my resume since 1990, so this was a big task. A lot has happened in the last twenty-six years of my life.

I have had three kids, two marriages, and one divorce during this time frame. I have also only worked for two companies. Although I had ownership in both and held various positions, my resume clearly only lists two companies as employers during this long stretch of time. An anomaly in today's working world.

One thing that became clear to me as I weighed my next work steps was my desire to not list a 3rd exclusive company name beside my next entry on my resume. I want the independence to choose the people I work with and the projects I work on. I want the creative liberty to say 'no' when my moral compass is crossed and 'yes' when I want to jump in with both feet.

My updated resume has a different kind of employer listed as

Sandy A Lane Consulting - Consultant | Advisor | Writer  (May 2016-present)
With my in-depth knowledge of the micro-economics of healthcare, proper alignment of provider incentives, and maximization of payer partnerships, this expertise provides my clients and collaborative partners insight into financial and operational success.

My experience within complex operations of scalable healthcare operations brings a wealth of knowledge to build both disruptive and innovative change to an industry in need of a tune up.

What does this mean, you ask? It means I am going to finish what I started in healthcare. But rather than working for one exclusive company, I will align with different companies while potentially working on multiple projects at the same time.

When explaining this to a friend, she looked at me quizzically, inquiring how I would do this. My explanation was simple. 'Like I always have.'

 At Think, a healthcare start-up, I worked on one big client/project. At Lutz, a CPA firm, I brought in clients and worked on multiple projects. I did this for twenty-two years.  I am continuing to do the same type of work without the roof of an outside employer and without an employee manual.

My many years in healthcare and finance have provided for me critical experience and hands-on knowledge. As an advocate for correcting the wrong in the world, my main focus will continue to be on the improvement of the healthcare delivery model, while reducing unnecessary cost and providing the best service and outcomes to the patient.

A quote on my temporary website best summarizes my personal mission in this regard:

"My background is in healthcare and finance, but my passion is in people.
 I have the unique blend of a deep knowledge in the intricacies of the business, coupled with an understanding of how to connect and empower the patient. Every patient is a human with unique needs. Understanding these needs should be the primary step in feeding a successful healthcare business model."

I am currently working on several interesting healthcare and finance projects. There will likely be some speaking and advising on these same subjects. Much in the works and I am loving the autonomy while working with great people.

My 90 days off and ensuing 'listening tour' allowed me time to reconnect with the best in the industry and those people I have admired and appreciated over my many years in the business. I look forward to many great continued collaborations in the years ahead.

The next most frequent question I am being asked relating to my future work is 'what about all of your other passions?' Yes, I am passionate about healthcare and love what I do in this business space, but is that enough? Am I fulfilling my life purpose by only focusing on my work in healthcare?

The answer I came to is 'no'. There are many other things in my life that I want to continue to grow and explore. Things I feel are a calling. The key is how I balance all of my endeavors. I have decided to start out with 80/20 rule.

My healthcare and consulting work embraces all three of my passion, proficiency, and profitability requirements for work. I initially plan on spending about 80% of my work time in these areas. The remaining 20% is for what I call my happy projects. These are things of which I am very passionate and proficient. Things I feel called to do, but may or may not lead to any associated profitability. And although money doesn't make the world go round, it is a component.

Some of these projects may always be hobbies or not-for-profit endeavors, while others may grow into greater business ventures than I ever anticipated. We shall see. But either way, I am having a ball spending time on these projects. They include writing, coaching, mentoring, and community service; along with a handful of other creative ideas that swirl in my brain.

Specific short-term tasks on my happy list include writing a book from my Ordinary Days blog posts. I am developing a separate e-book and new website on a Wordpress platform which will host a new blog site and more. And I have also been working on formalizing my credentials and training on tools to assist on coaching and mentoring those who seek my guidance.

My plate is filling with good people and good work. I am happy. That pretty much sums it up. There will be much more to share as the ideas and work builds. I have missed writing consistently in my Ordinary Days blog and greatly look forward to getting back on this saddle as well.

I will close with my new favorite quote as I look to my future...

'Talk' soon!

(This is Part III of three part blog post series...)