“The Last Mile” is a phrase used in the telecommunications and technology industries to describe the final piece of the communication journey that connects the network to the end-user or customer. In more jargon-y tech circles, it’s often referred to as the “last-mile problem,” because the end link to consumer is too often disproportionately expensive or difficult to achieve. Even compared to the costs associated with rolling out broadband wire and hardware across the globe, last-mile connections have been plagued with technological issues, infrastructure barriers, and high costs.
It’s so beguiling that there are many publicly traded companies focused exclusively on the “challenge” of facilitating this precarious one-on-one connection. Pursuit of this delicate alignment extends to transportation logistics, as well. From traditional heavy goods shipments to e-commerce-driven home deliveries, the last mile plays a critical role in the supply chain. It’s the ultimate destination – the final frontier. Get it wrong, and you risk customer alienation. Get it right, and you create a meaningful, high-value, and potentially lasting relationship.
That’s the connection. My wheels are turning—thinking about that ever-so-bumpy road that often characterizes “the last mile” in our most intimate relationships. A metaphor is born. You know the adage that those closest to us have the power to hurt us the most deeply. Well, here we go. I think the struggle of the last mile speaks to this. Yet, the sad part is that some us never let anyone down that barren stretch of highway into the inner sanctum of our hearts. Even if someone finds entrance ramp, there are often too many twists and turns, culverts and crevasses—too many dead-ends . . . or just too many barricades. Plus, there are all those the emergency vehicles that come out of nowhere—crimson lights blazing and sirens shrieking! Or, the bridges may be washed out due to years of emotional storms and deferred maintenance. There are a myriad of reasons. And this can be true in a variety of contexts—family, friends, romantic partners—even work. Your “last miles” can be very painful, even scary, but they are worth the trip.
Being more mindful and aware has definitely helped me enrich some of my “last mile” journeys recently — and I find that I am becoming more appreciative of noticing these attributes in my fellow travelers, as well. I feel the “last mile” in any relationship is best navigated as a two-way street. After all, it’s where the rubber truly meets the road, right?
You fish or you cut bait, as they say. Face it. “Last-mile connections have been plagued with technological issues”— especially when some of us have more baggage on the bus than others. So, to stay on track, unpack with care and compassion when necessary—and refuel when needed. Traveling light – and maximizing flow . . . here I go.
This is one of my favorite quotes from the remarkable Maya Angelou. She expressed so many ideas and notions of the heart with such raw eloquence and clarity. As one who has struggled with clouded filters in my life, this resonates deeply.
Live in authenticity—not to satisfy the expectations of others, nor the perceived expectations of anyone else. It also means resisting the impulse to change, cajole, alter—or otherwise attempt to “fix” another. Peacefully release and allow . . . others to walk their own divine paths. Easier said than done, right? Instead, you may simply choose a different reality. Fighting or feeling dismayed gives the recipient of that energy power. Taking a different path alleviates so much stress and pain.
It is such an essential lesson for productivity, sanity and happiness. And at the core of this awareness is mindfulness. Marsha Linehan, a noted American psychologist and author, created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) around this philosophy. It’s a powerful form of psychotherapy that actually combines behavioral science and brain theory with Buddhism tenets—acceptance, meditation and mindfulness.
In the spirit of our dear Dr. Angelou, who touched so many, we can all seek this state of inner peace and mindfulness—to communicate in truth—internally and externally. To believe in the veracity of what is. But we cannot if we are not clear— about who we are and how we feel. This, indeed, is the journey. In lieu of a mindfulness retreat or a series of therapy sessions with Dr. Linehan, here are a few ways to get a dose of this mindfulness practice:
- Focus on one thing at a time
Try giving up multitasking occasionally. It exacerbates stress and states of confusion. Handle one thing and one thing only—mindfully in the moment. Step away from the phone.
- Do what works
You do not always have to be right— make a statement, issue and edict, or win the war. Don’t cut off your nose despite your face. Think twice before you send that blazing email copying the president.
- Set achievable goals
Set aside the BHAGS for a while (the big, hairy, audacious goals – as a former boss used to call them). Focus on the attainable ones. Give yourself some wins!
- Nurture friends, connections, and support
Build a network. Connections are so important. They give you strength and a soft place to land when you run out of steam and your resources dwindle. YOU don’t have to be everything to everyone.
Keep moving. Reduce your physical vulnerability. You know about this one already.
- Be grateful
Find something to be grateful for every day. It multiplies (even at work).
There are more, but this is a great place to start. Until we understand exactly who we are and how we process stimuli, many of our reactions will be wildcards. This takes work, because so much of our communication is conducted on autopilot—hardwired and subconscious. There are no easy answers, but if we are mindful of our issues, we can begin asking better questions . . . What do you think?
“Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.”
On Saturday, we honored the memory of Everett E. Gantz Jr. with a quiet, traditional Episcopal memorial service. After nearly 89 years on this earth, my father was still an enigma to many— and to me in many ways. Few truly knew the man behind the stoic, Midwestern-chiseled facade— and the charismatic artist/wife of more than 50 years. Thankfully, my dear sister Melissa gave a lovely, instructive “reflection” that filled gaps and hearts.
The loss is palpable—and beginning with my mother’s devastating stroke in January 2010, the grieving process has been a lingering one.
Plus, as a single, working mother of two growing boys, remembering to “put the oxygen mask on first” is a constant effort—and a daily focus of my mindfulness practice. However, I am certainly no role model for the “sandwich generation,” and I guarantee you that I still get tangled up in the roughage, as it were. Still, I have come to understand that the frustrating stubbornness and vitriol I have encountered on “both sides of the bun” often mask the poignant vulnerabilities that quite frequently melt my heart.
Mastin Kipp, one of my favorite daily inspirational mentors, says, “When you let go and admit it, accept that you have moments of being a mess, and you share that feeling at times with the rest of us, then you can step into a larger, freer life.”
So, with another Mother’s Day behind us and a new normal dawning, I have revisited something I wrote several years ago for my mom:
No need to give to feel anymore.
Her bare spirit shines — less the veneer.
Without speech, without talk
The essence of her soul.
Awareness without comprehension,
She looks at me finally – and actually sees.
Letting go of need.
Content to be.
Fights her wheeled prison.
Her body knows now
To bridge the chasm.
There between this Scylla and Charybdis.
And yet he still clings.
Denies to suppress — but never go home.
Letting go of control.
But the seizures defy
The years and the secrets
He insists to know why.
Anger. Passion. Pain.
A stone cold wall.
What a loss — so far.
Tear us apart and we fall.
Oh, to let love . . .
So, letting go.
Join us next week when we thaw. . .
I am excited and honored to participate in a Holiday Customer Art Show at Stoney’s Wine Lounge. It’s a festive way to sip luscious wines from around the globe, shop for one-of-a-kind gifts crafted by eclectic and surprising artists from around the corner — and savor delicious jazz with friends in a cozy neighborhood atmosphere. What could be better?
I will be including some of my favorite jewelry creations. Here are a few examples—incorporating copper, abalone, quartz amethyst, brass, silver plate, gold wire, and other semi-precious gemstones. Prices range from $35 – $150.
Friday, Dec. 13
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Stoney’s Wine Lounge
6038 Oram St.
Dallas, TX 75206
And here’s a little back story.
Diana, Stoney and I have an interesting history. Our paths have continued to cross since I first met Diana when she was as my seventh grade French teacher at Hockaday.
Mademoiselle Dill at the time, she may have been one the absolute “coolest” teachers on the planet. She and Patty Edwards, my speech and debate coach in high school, would both hold that title. “Ms. Dill” would weave in French pop-culture references and even sing to us – Francoise Hardy’s Tous les Garcons. Formidable!
And there’s more . . . Stoney and I both landed at the Dallas Museum of Art simultaneously in the late 1980s. I was arranging fabulous fetes for the Associates and President Circle-level members and his band played at those receptions. Then, when I happened to be planning my own wedding at the time, I asked Stone to play. So, there you have it . . . some saucy synchronicity—since single, however.
So, stop by on Friday or Saturday at Stoney’s. Shop, saunter or sip. Cheers. xo
CONTACT ME ANY TIME!
It’s difficult to believe my mom left this earth one year ago today–after a long struggle with the aftermath of devastating stroke. No matter how difficult the journey, life is never really the same after your mother has left your world. Remembering you today, Mom. Once again, here is the poem you asked that we read at your funeral . . . and another from me. Love, e.
When Earth’s Last Picture Is Painted
By Rudyard Kipling
When Earth’s last picture is painted
And the tubes are twisted and dried
When the oldest colors have faded
And the youngest critic has died
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it
Lie down for an aeon or two
‘Till the Master of all good workmen
Shall put us to work anew
And those that were good shall be happy
They’ll sit in a golden chair
They’ll splash at a ten league canvas
With brushes of comet’s hair
They’ll find real saints to draw from
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul
They’ll work for an age at a sitting
And never be tired at all.
And only the Master shall praise us.
And only the Master shall blame.
And no one will work for the money.
No one will work for the fame.
But each for the joy of the working,
And each, in his separate star,
Will draw the thing as he sees it.
For the God of things as they are!
Transition comes always in motion.
Summer and fall down again.
The cycle repeating so certain,
Who am I less the chagrin?
Fractured yet still—unbroken.
So this is together as one,
For it is all not forgotten.
I go forward in faith alone.
The newness of year’s end beckons
To lead my discoveries of soul.
Joy finally—that place so vulnerable
Peace on purpose—so whole.
I’m not sure how to rest anymore.
In this place of where I prepare
What I see is now just a wisp
Of a memory on gossamer air.
I will follow the lead of my truest heart
Unfold what is next without fear.
Not a nod to the doubts of others.
Only for what is genuine and clear.
He was a mirror to my deepest ache.
Unconscious, I acquiesced.
Releasing all that, myself I cherish.
Through salted tears, I am blessed.
Remembering . . . there is time to heal.
Now, here I am—flawed and free.
Truth – such the journey uncommon.
Facing lesson’s ubiquity.
Steer no more. Press, push or pull.
In heart-fragile release Divine.
Spinning rhythms of delight fantastic.
Let that glitter starlight shine.