Archive for August, 2014

Man, Robin Williams. It’s just so sad.

I’ve been thinking this morning of a scene from the West Wing – not a Robin Williams, clip, obviously (my brain just went on a delightful tangent imagining how much Aaron Sorkin and Robin Williams would have probably hated each other), but because it’s one of my favorite depictions of the exact thing to say to help a friend who is hurting.

I’ve never suffered from depression, but it’s touched so many that I care about. I’m glad they feel empowered to seek treatment for it, to seek understanding, to take care of themselves.

Last year the CEO of my company got on an all employee call and, on a call reserved for earnings and stock and corporate strategy, she instead spoke bluntly about the recent suicide of her nephew, her own history with mental depression in her family, and how it has impacted and continues to impact her life. She then reminded her employees – all 3,500 of them – that they have access to health insurance, which includes tools for managing mental health, and they should use them as readily as they would use the insurance to treat high blood pressure or diabetes, that there is no stigma in treating your health conditions like a health condition just because it is mental health. And then she encouraged us to be kind to one another, because you never know what people are dealing with outside the walls of the office.

She was, in a very powerful way, telling an entire company that she’d been down there before, and she knew the way out.

There’s no good wrap up to a story like this – her leadership and message were extraordinary, and I hope it becomes common, and not prompted by personal experience with suicide.

It’s just all so sad.

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Being Here

I have a second cousin that I see these days mostly via Facebook. That’s not a slam on our relationship; prior to Facebook it’s fair to say I did not see her much at all, so in the scheme of things the current set up is quite an improvement.

I like the way she uses Facebook quite a lot; her status updates are mostly snippets and stories about her day and her job, and as a high school English teacher she has some great reflections on teaching teenagers today and I find her perspective on her work interesting. I always feel very calm reading her thoughts, and I’ve come to like her even more than I did before I knew her “Facebook version” self. Probably this is because her Facebook-version self is much like her actual version-self, but one that I have more access to.

I think maybe one of the secrets to my large extended family remaining somewhat close throughout the generations is that we seem to like each other more, not less, the more we get to know each other. And while Facebook can be a huge font for annoyance and highly depressing political yelling, I also think it’s been a nice treat for keeping close the ones that may be otherwise too far.

Anyway, recently it was her birthday, and she posted that she had heard a quote for Psalm 16.6: “My lines have fallen in pleasant places.” What a wonderful sentiment. I feel, recently, that the lines of my life have fallen in pleasant places. This type of feeling is certainly subject to ebb and flow, but it’s a nice place to be.

Along those lines, if you have the time to read something longer, I encourage you to check out my friend Arwen’s piece, “It’s Good Here”. Sometimes, it’s nice to be reminded that it’s important and right for us to be where we are.

 “It is good that you are here: I am the right wife for this husband, the right mother for these children, the right person to catechize fifth graders (a daunting job I’ve recently signed on for) and to support a person I love through a crisis and to live in this little house with this rowdy family. I belong here, this is my life, I’m right for it.

It is good that you are here: there are a hundred little joys in this life, and I am blessed to be the one who holds these little people and comforts them through their trials and witnesses their joys, blessed in my marriage and my friends and my family and in so many ways. This is a good life.

It is good that you are here: as tedious and tiny as it feels sometimes, this life is my vocation, exactly as it is. And things that make me feel sometimes like an outsider: not being a homeschooler, not having a baby or being pregnant; or (in alternate circumstances) having four (so many!) children and being one of those crazy religious people… well, those are the things that make me me and my life mine. I get to love those things, love being here, without apology or self-doubt.”

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