Falling & Rising

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ~ Confucius

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/philo_quotes/status/282349004518486016

Failure,… pain,… fear,… uncertainty,… regret,…

The Hobbit (per the movie), Bilbo is so rapt in his comfortable life that he did not know there was so much more to the world, and ultimately, to himself. He would never have discovered this had he not been coerced into The Adventure by Gandalf.

More often than not, we become consumed by our pasts. We tell ourselves that we have learnt from our ‘mistakes’ and that we will alter our behaviours and lives accordingly so as not to repeat said ‘mistakes’ again. In actuality, most of us do not actively live this way.

We end up stereotyping – people, situations, jobs. We inevitably close ourselves off, without always realising this is the case. We stop embracing the little things that are good that happen every day – the friend and colleague who always remembers your stories, the coffee/tea breaks, after-work beers, water cooler social chats that make us smile. Instead, the end of the day is typically a whinge-fest about what was bad as opposed to what was good.

We stop living. We stop living in the moment. We stop going with the flow. We stop accepting the good things that happen as they come. We turn all that is good into something with an ulterior motive.

No matter how tough life gets for us, we all have much to be thankful for and to smile about. We all have a Gandalf in our lives, our strongholds that are there for us as mentors in our careers, as our best friends, as our buddies, our North Stars.

This coming new year is no different from any other new year. You, me, them, WE, can live a little differently. Let us not fear living. Let us not fear accepting the things that are good that come from others. Let us not fear that we may fall. Let us not fear that we may fail.


Illusions & Emotions

Saturday, November 17th, 2012


Many of us have lost friends and family members over the years, through accidents, illness or arguments. Whatever the cause may be, the loss of someone dear to you, someone who has touched your life, your heart, your mind and/or your soul, can be extremely complex.

My best friend, mentor, and intellectual soulmate was laid to rest last year from an astonishingly aggressive form of stomach cancer. He passed within 3 months of being diagnosed with it. I still carry his text messages on my phone, from the night he told me his prognosis, he only had a few weeks left to live AND he was sorry things turned out this way(!!). I received that text on the first night of Pesach (Passover). He was gone 11 days later.

We had a friendship that withstood time and space – literally. At one point, we went for years without seeing each other in person but were so intertwined with our families through the beauty(beast) that is Facebook, that we did not feel we missed a second of each other’s lives. We had a level of closeness, a bond, that was so secure in who we were in each other’s lives that it didn’t matter if a text message or email went unanswered for days. We had worked together for many years, again, rarely in the same city at the same time, and while work-related emails were always answered, personal chats were treated with a little bit more decorum and saved for when we could focus on each other.

I am the type of person who devotes time and energy to most people I meet. I am one of those who has a lot of Facebook (beauty/beast?) friends from all the years at school, different countries I have lived in and the umpteen colleagues who have managed to touch my life and cross the LinkedIn/Facebook divide. I can remember at least 3 things about each of these people – past or present memory irrelevant.

As most of you read this, you will have undoubtedly perceived an illusion of something more than just friendship between Him and I – mainly because He was a man and I am a woman.

You see, I have been blessed this year with a ‘new’ best friend. Both of us are going through transitional phases in our lives and as individuals. She (Bestie) and I just click. We are both very Alpha people, extremely communicative and talk almost on a daily basis. Bestie and I have the same level of closeness and bond that He and I had. Thanks to Bestie, and the experiences we have shared together in the last two months, I have been able to face many things about myself, my journey through life since He passed and the choices I made as a result. I did not realise then, that the loss of Him, would affect me the way it did. I had lost other friends in the past, and it was nothing like this.

Looking back on the last 12 months, I wasn’t encouraged to mourn by those around me. I just buckled down and ‘got on’ with life. Unfortunately, the loss was too great. No more late night text messages that I would read when I stirred in the middle of the night. No more updates on His gorgeous family (whom I also know well). There was just nothing. I knew that would be the case after the wake. I was part of the procession the day he was interred.

I moved away from Chicago last December, and returned to the one place that I felt was closest to being a home for me – the UK. That was an illusion. Now, I can see that I had returned because it was where He and I had started our friendship – in my subconscious mind, I was back to 8 years ago. I also know now that when I started spending more time in Chicago from 2004, it was also to be where He had moved back to. The company we worked for had me traveling to ORD often and it just felt natural for me to be in Chicago. I still have some of the greatest friends in Chi-town.

Needless to say, the illusion of home in the UK, started to crumble over time. I was in a state of flux. I felt better when I was living out of a suitcase and traveling for work than I did when I was ‘home’. Fast forward to now. I returned to the US and to Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Half of that time, I spent in LA and Austin due to my new super fun job.

Last Saturday, I went to help a couple of my closest friends here house-hunt. As we were driving around, at one of the junctions, I realised where we were and my entire body froze. We were on the road the procession had taken and the memories just came flooding back, images and scenes as real as if they were happening right in front of my eyes right there and then. Muscle memory is a bitch 😐

I knew I could no longer avoid visiting Him. It was time to say goodbye, in earnest, and it was time to let go. I was ready to face the one real fear I had and walk through the mirror. This past Thursday, I had set up my day to ensure I would not bail out on myself – I had a lunch meeting near the town where He is buried, visit Him and then rush to get my hair cut. Simples. I am a fairly logical person first, emotional second.

On the drive to my lunch meeting, muscle memory kicked in as I wove my way through the very streets the procession had taken. Tears began to roll down my face involuntarily. By the time I arrived at my lunch meeting, I needed to speak with Bestie. When she answered the phone, I lost my nerve. I cried harder than I ever had in my life. Finally, I was letting it all out. I admitted to Bestie that deep down, I still thought I would get a text message from him. That he really is not gone and it is just like it was when we had our long period of not seeing each other.

I recomposed myself, had my meeting, then made my way to the cemetery. As I drove into the gates, I felt trepidation. Even after all this time, I still remembered where His plot is. I had no tears as I drove up to the section where He is. As I walked around, I almost panicked when I could not find the tree that I had stood under during His burial – it looked different as He was buried in early summer and it is now autumn. Then I found Him.

I cried, and I cried – out of sadness, out of joy at the good times, out of anger that he was taken from everyone so soon, out of regret that we did not get more time before He passed, out of my entire being. Kissing His forehead before His coffin was closed, and watching Him being lowered into ground did not give me the closure that I so desperately needed.

I placed my hand on His headstone and I said goodbye. At that moment, I felt this great weight lift off my shoulders. This was it.

I texted Bestie to tell her I was leaving Him and headed for my haircut. She asked how I was and I replied,…

“I am ready to live.”

Thought of the Day – 20121114

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

“No matter how logical you are, nothing cuts through you more than hearing your child cry in severe pain #teary

Tweeted at 18:01 Wednesday November 14th, 2012


Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

This year, I have been fortunate enough to work in some of the most amazing cities in the world. London, San Francisco, San Jose, Palo Alto, Basel, Zurich, Amsterdam, Seoul, Las Vegas, Boston, DC, New York, Paris, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Barcelona, Sydney and Los Angeles. Going to The Hague next week, followed by another stint in sunny Sydney, with a return to Chicago by way of LA. My friends and I communicate our travels using airport codes, which is something to either be proud of, or cringe to.

Along my travels, I have met some of the smartest people in this industry. People who are not just one-dimensional geeks, people who apply psychology and the arts in technical discussions, people who can see beyond the technology in any given situation and apply common sense in the Cloud-y industry that is ours.

All that being said, it is time for me to stop floating homeless and choose a long(ish) term location in which to rest (that is not part of the Hilton or Marriott group) so I can finally be. Q4 is usually viewed as the end of the year, for me, it is my Staging for the new year.

As Director of Strategic Alliances at ServiceMesh, my primary focus is enabling and operationalizing the EMC Select Partnership that I worked on whilst I was an EMCer. ServiceMesh is headquartered in Santa Monica, CA, with Engineering in Austin, TX, and offices in NYC, and Sydney, Australia. Being a g33k and having my roots in Engineering, I am naturally drawn to SMFY!s in Austin. The vibe in the company is amazing, however, the vibe in the Austin office, is a whole different galaxy. The excitement of new release of code, the buzz when a customer upgrade succeeds after weeks and weeks of preparation, breakfast taco Fridays, Sprints, I could go on and on. Plus, being surrounded by the Arboretum, and 11 miles from Lake Travis, I am struggling to see any downsides to this plan that is forming.

I shall continue to research and, of course, it is not enough to have only one city in my list – LAX, RDU, CLT are being considered also (see what I did there?), though AUS is winning. To be continued,…