BTE With A BFF

My mind doesn’t shut off.  It just runs and runs and plans and lists and analyzes.  It’s actually getting worse with age instead of better.  It’s why I have a hard time falling asleep.  Like that movie How Does She Do It All where she just lays there in be making lists.

One thing shuts my brain off.

Loud live music.

I love going to concerts but because of my nutty schedule, friends with fewer time on their hands, a limited “extras” budget, and the kids, I don’t do it very often.

However, my best friend always gets us tickets to see Better Than Ezra at House of Blues when they come through town.  I’ve been going to BTE concerts since the mid-90s in law school in Nashville when they first hit.  They’re from Baton Rouge and they played the HOB Friday night before the LSU game in Houston on Saturday.  It was a zoo!  An absolutely wonderful, loud, hysterical rockin’ zoo.

We got there just before they went on in our skinny(ish) jeans and high heels and dark eyeliner just like we’ve been dressing for concerts for ages.  As the familiar music filled the room with drums shaking the floors and crowd belting out the lyrics, my brain turned off.  All I could think or hear or feel was the music.

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There was this moment when they started singing a song from their album which will release next week called It’s Gonna Get Better.  Let me tell you, there’s something about shouting “It’s Gonna Get Better” with a room full of strangers.  It’s been a hard couple of weeks and this was like medicine:

 

On this Labor Day, I’m grateful for a break from the labor and an opportunity to turn back the clock a couple of decades with my best friend.

Fashion Fridays: Bargain Shopping

How do you find cute additions to your wardrobe, especially your career clothes, at a reasonable price? 

The answer to this question constantly eluded me, and with three young children I have to watch when and where I spend dollars on myself.  Plus, quite frankly, I hate the messy chaos that pervades so many brick and mortar discount stores, and I’ve had incredibly limited luck finding high end pieces at secondhand stores. 

So my darling friend Kristin introduced me to ThredUp after she’d made a few killer finds. 

Have you shopped here?  It’s a very well organized on-line consignment store with an incredible selection of higher end items with little to no wear!  And your first shopping outing you get 30% off!  What!?!?!

You can select your style or just pick a category (outerwear) and size (they add equivalent sizing – why doesn’t everyone do this?) and “waa-laa” –  style on a budget!

Even better than any second hand or last call I’ve been to, anything that doesn’t work can be returned for FREE! 

I received my first polkadot box this week with five blazers/jackets, a pair of shoes (Kate Spade) as well as a pullover for the boys (the kids selection has more limited options with less of a delta on the deal – but the women’s section, wow!) for $200!  Not everything worked, and one item disappointingly smelled like cigarette smoke because they must not clean them first, but here’s a look at the items I kept:

This velvet teal blazer was about $10:

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These plummy heels were 75% off of retail Kate Spade shoes and in excellent condition:

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My biggest steal of a deal was a high end leather jacket which retailed for $700 that I acquired for just over $100.  However, I didn’t like how it fit, so back it went (which means I spent less than $75 for heels, a blazer, and a kids pullover). 

 They estimate your savings against retail, and while it may be inflated, it still came in pretty impressively at nearly $1500 savings versus the new retail cost. 

What’s your favorite way to save money on career wardrobe pieces?  How do you look sophisticated one a limited budget?

Leading Past The Rejection

{So grateful to have been asked to author the Voices column for the ABA’s Perspective magazine this quarter.
This was published last week:}

No, thank you.

You’re not a fit for our current needs.  

Thank you for applying, but we have no position available.

I received probably a hundred or so of these responses in the fall of my second year of law school.  I selected a few markets for my employment search and those markets weren’t particularly interested in having me.  After flying myself to the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I earned a clerkship at a firm I didn’t know in a city I had never lived.

It was one of the first times professional failure set me up for extraordinary opportunity.  

In the four and a half years at that law firm, I tried numerous small cases my first year of practice, found a new specialty practice area in my second year, and was elected to lead the young lawyers association in my third year.

I met with another “failure” on a professional and personal level, but it opened a door to a tremendous career opportunity in Houston, Texas where I met the love of my life with whom I now have four year old triplets.

Often, after speaking at an event, women come up to me and say, “You’re amazing, I don’t know how you do it all.”  That’s because they’ve only heard my one minute autobiography.  In truth, that’s the only snapshot we see of many successful women leading in law and beyond today.

It’s a 160 character Twitter description.  A 40 word thumbnail bio.  Who lists, Lost four cases last year?  or Screamed at my kids last night because I only had two hours of sleep?

No one.

You post the pretty pictures on Facebook.

You display the biggest awards on your shelves.

You note the most impressive accomplishments in your biography.

Can I let you in on a secret?  Every amazing leader I have met shares about failures they experienced along the way.  When the ABA Commission on Women’s Chair, Mary Cranston, my longtime mentor, asked me to author Learning to Lead: What Really Works for Women in the Law, she opened the door for me to ask some remarkable women how they became successful leaders.  Almost every woman had stories of professional failure.

Senator Mazie Hirono shared that she lost the Hawaii gubernatorial race to the same person she later ran against for the United States Senate seat and won.  She encouraged women, “Dust yourself off and get back up.  But learn something from the defeat.  Allow the loss to provide you with the perspective that makes you stronger, so you can succeed the next time you dare to run the race, take the test, or seek the promotion.”

Justice Elrod of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit shared about her own disappointing career setbacks, “You have to be willing to lose and fail and embarrass yourself.  I was passed over for two state district bench nominations before I ran for judge. It is not over if you “lose” or “fail.”  I learned something through each of those periods.  I learned more about people and the system and how much I really wanted it.  There is life after defeat.  Sometimes, it is an even better life than had you never taken the risk.”

You have to lead past the rejection.

You have to lead in spite of it.

You have to realize that sometimes it is through the failure a better opportunity emerges.

Once you know what you want, tenaciously fight to achieve your goal.  There will be set backs and losses.  If it was easy, everyone would achieve success. {==>Click to Tweet}

Hang in there, sister.  It’s worth the effort.  

And if you’re one of those fortunate ones who achieved your goals, share your setbacks too.  It inspires those still climbing the mountain to focus on the view that lies ahead.

The Words Series, Part 3: Them’s Fightin’ Words

 

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Have you ever had someone be mean to you?

Really mean.

Maybe it was warranted, if meanness can ever be warranted, but maybe it was completely unsolicited and the person just needed to take out their sadness or madness or terribleness on someone and you happened to be the closest human.

In Part 3 of The Words Series, we’re talking about what to do when you hear “fightin’ words.”  We talked about gracious words in Part 1 and about silencing ourselves when fewer words are called for in Part 2, but today we explore what God tells us to do when harsh words are leveled at us.

1.  Recognize verbal attacks on you will inevitably happen.

People having been saying deceptive things for thousands of years.  Leveling attacks against one another.  Spreading untruths.  God tells us not to put any stock in them.  And He warns us not to start doing it ourselves (even in return).

Do not trust in deceptive words. – Jeremiah 7:8

If anyone teaches otherwise…they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth.  I Timothy 6:4

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you. – Ezekiel 13:8

These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.  For they mouth empty, boastful words …they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.  They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves.  II Peter 2:18

2.  Acknowledge there is nothing you can do to control what someone else says.

3.  Forgive them anyways.

In a conversation between Jesus and Peter, Peter thought he was being magnanimous by saying, How many times should I forgive my brother? Up to seven times?  Because let’s face it, forgiving someone seven times IS pretty magnanimous by today’s standards – and I’m sure it was then too.  But Jesus replied with, No, not seven times.  But seventy times seven.  (Matthew 18)  We don’t have to continue to put ourselves in the path of someone who attacks us or tears down our character, but recognizing there isn’t anything we can do about it means that we keep forgiving them if they keep attacking – even from a distance.

If you forgive others, you will be forgiven.  Matthew 6:14

Every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven.  Matthew 12:31

4.  Only respond with words that reflect your character.  Do not allow someone else’s meanness to incite you to impugn your own character; that feeds into what they’re seeking (a reaction, inflicting pain) and it gives their statements credibility if you respond in anger. 

There’s a scene in I Samuel 24 when King Saul and David, who was not yet king, were near one another in the desert at the height of Saul’s hatred for David.  David had the opportunity to kill King Saul as his men encouraged him to do.  But instead, David rebuked his men, and called out to King Saul, “This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.  May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.”

Saul, shocked, responds, “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me.  When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today.  I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.”

I don’t know what would have happened had David acted rashly, as he sometimes did, and killed King Saul.  I don’t know if that would have prevented him from ascending to King.  But I do know that he trusted the Lord to judge what happened, refused to be drawn into a terrible reaction by someone else’s bad words and actions, and he was rewarded by becoming King.

5.  Then leave it to God to sort out. 

A little later in this story, II Samuel 22 shares David’s joy and ultimate blessing because he left it in God’s hands:

David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul He said, The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord says the Lord.  Isaiah 54:17

 

The Words Series: Part 2, When Less is More

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The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?  Eccles. 6:11

 Yesterday, I kicked off The Words Series with instruction about how we should speak gracious words that heal instead of wound.  Sometimes, there are no gracious words left.  That’s when we just stop talking.

I ended yesterday’s post with Ecclesiastes 10:

Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious.. But do you remember that it left us hanging?

This is what followed:  but fools are consumed by their own lipsAt the beginning their words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness.

There are plenty of opportunities for us to speak life into other people.  Yesterday I shared the passage from the Bible that warns, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  Unfortunately, all too often, the words we’ve chosen aren’t life-giving but life-taking.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of that?  I have a memory seared in my mind from when I was 12.  Words shot like flaming arrows from one adult to another that left them with permanent burn scars.  You would think that single memory of the absolute horror words can bring down would temper my mouth.

Yet I fail.  I speak when silence would be a far better alternative.  I’ve written about how the most insightful piece of advice I received from a woman leader I interviewed for my book was to actively listen.  Put on the role of listener instead of talker.

God agrees.  Listening may be a far safer option.  There are serious cautions in the Bible for the person who can’t learn to control what they say:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt. 12:37

The reality is, our words reflect who we are.  We will be judged, both by those we encounter and by God, by what we say.   And imagine having to stand and give account for every empty word spoken.  That stops me in my tracks.

Even for those who don’t believe in God, the adage holds true.  What did our mothers always tell us?  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  People judge who you are by what you say.

Let’s hold each other accountable and stop speaking if our words will be less than gracious.  Let’s show how we can encourage one another one with love and support and take a tiny step to making our current culture less vitriolic.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. I John 3:17