Mother Trees

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, or is it?

Is every man only looking out for himself? I’ll warn you that I’ve searched far and wide for cliches today….

I was recently reading about networks and communities. No man is an island, after all. 😉 In my reading, I kept coming across the concept of ‘mother trees’ and a biologist named Suzanne Simard, who talks about big trees support seedlings, enabling them to grow. Like the mother trees in Avatar, these large, older trees rise above the forest and connect to other trees via a network of fungal threads. It appears these mother trees not only share nutrients with weaker trees, they’ll also do so when it means sacrificing their own needs. In return, the seedlings grow and will provide nutrients to others, including the mother trees.  Ms. Simard describes forests as complex networks of trees who communicate and support each other, making the whole forest more resilient.

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Some of you will say that’s a bunch of hooey and use words like “anthropomorphize”, meaning we’re attributing human traits to non-humans, but how else do you describe the passing of nutrients when needed? We can debate anthropomorphism another day and get back to my original question: Is every man or tree only looking out for himself? Or is it all for one and one for all?

I vote for B. We’re a community and our networks make us stronger. Our ability to support each other in times of need means that more of us survive, both literally and figuratively.

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Back to Ms. Simard for a moment. She also mentions that forests can be more vulnerable because of the trees’ networks. If you damage the mother trees, the whole forest declines. Or, if you let loose a scourge (I always wanted to use that word…. 🙂 ), like the bark beetle, the trees’ network may collapse. How do you make a forest less susceptible to a scourge? Diversity. Instead of one or two types of trees, you have many types of trees, some that are resistant to a particular attack. The more diversity, the less the risk of the community failing.

My point in as few words as possible:

  • Mother trees (hubs) matter. These are the people who connect us to each other and help us get what we need, especially in times of stress.
  • Even the smallest seedling can contribute to the well being of others and their community.
  • Diversity fortifies our community against harm.

As you go through your week, I hope you look at your world with fresh eyes. Who are the mother trees in your network? How do the smallest, youngest, weakest members contribute? How can diversity strengthen you and your community?  In short, how are we better together?

Faith

Wow, it’s that time! countdownTwenty eight years ago, I walked into 633 Folsom in San Francisco, both nervous and excited to get started. My only goal? I wanted to work for a company that would give me room to grow. After my first day, my first week, my first month, my first year (!) I couldn’t believe they were paying me to do this stuff. (Yeah, that was not the first time I realized I was a nerd on a cosmic scale….. I can hear y’all snickering.) All these years later, I am so grateful for all of the adventures and opportunities I’ve had.

I’ve been so, So, SO fortunate to have y’all in my life and to have you share yours. I’m most grateful for your inspiration and I hope y’all know how much you’ve meant to me. There are not enough words (and y’all don’t have enough time 😉 ) for me to list all the things we’ve accomplished together. I have to mention, however, the most important of these was the world we built. We brought out the best in each other and I wish y’all the best as you carry on the AT&T community.

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As I sign off from AT&T for the last time, I leave you with this song –  Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande’s Faith (From “Sing”)

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Every time I see it, I’m reminded of the faith we have in each other, I’m reminded of y’all.

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Every time you see it, I hope you think of those in your life that need you for their inspiration.

Thank you for having faith in me and best wishes for a fabulous 2017!

Caryn

Joy

Let’s start the week with a little joy – watch this video of a woman enjoying the snow. I dare you not to smile at her pleasure.

Let’s list a few things that she could complain about, if she chose to:

  1. it’s cold
  2. she’s getting wet
  3. she has no gloves
  4. she might fall

These are all good reasons to stay in the car, right? I’ll bet it’s warm and dry inside and she could watch the snow falling just fine. What does she choose to do instead? She gets out of her comfort zone and she plays in the snow. I love her giggles and I love that her son (behind the video) is laughing along with her.

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May your day be full of joy, even when you’re cold and uncomfortable.

May you have someone to share your joy. ❤

 

Mega Modern Family

The holidays are all about family and friends. Sometimes, you’re even lucky enough to spend some up-close-and-personal time with them. Let’s hope you make great memories and can laugh at the funny (and not-so-funny stuff). 😉

Today’s Hump Day ad is Tide: Mega Modern Family Gets the Most With Tide HE These are things you just can’t unsee……It’s a great ad, showing off the product and engaging you with humor about a situation we can all relate to.

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I think that the Tide family and Modern Family (above) are related, don’t you? They’re both full of love, a little humor, a little snark and, above all, community. What would we do without each other?

Take a Chance

The next time you doubt yourself, I want you to think about someone else. There’s no question that your days are hard and you could use a break. Can’t we all? But when you’re having your worst day, I hope thinking about someone else inspires you to keep going.

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Take a short journey with me: Imagine being Grace Murray Hopper, born in 1906, the oldest of three children. Can you imagine a young girl living in the 1900s in New York City? Would you expect her to marry, stay home and raise the children? Or maybe she would work, most likely as a teacher or a nurse.  What are the odds that she would be not just a mathematician, but one of the leading computer scientists of the 20th century, a United States Navy Rear Admiral and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom? How many times do you think she heard the word the word ‘no’? How many times do you think she wondered if it could be done? How many times do you think she took a chance?

grace-murray-hopper-programmerMy dad brought me a couple of books when he visited last month, one of which was Computers: Their History, Present Applications, and Future by Shirley Thomas. Dad pointed out Grace Hopper’s role in computer programming, including her time at UNIVAC (now Unisys), where dad also worked. Among Ms Hopper’s accomplishments:

  • Attended Vassar despite being turned down the first time she applied.
  • Served in the WAVES (a branch of the US Naval Reserve), despite not meeting their physical requirements.
  • Developed the first compiler, despite no one believing it could be done, leading eventually to her work developing COBOL, the most ubiquitous business language to date.
  • Worked for the Department of Defense until she was 79, despite the mandatory retirement age of 60. (Congress had to approve her active duty status.)

Is it any wonder that she became known as Amazing Grace?

My favorite Amazing Grace quote is:

“The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, ‘Do you think we can do this?’ I say, “Try it.” And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”

The next time you feel overwhelmed, I hope you remember Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and all she accomplished. I hope you remember to take a chance.

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A Million Things to Be

We are rich in opportunities. Sure, there are obstacles between us and our goals, but that’s life. Sometimes those obstacles are speed bumps and sometimes they’re brick walls. But what if there is something meaningful on the other side? Will you get stopped by the voice in your head that says, “I can’t”?

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What do you see when you look around, the speedbumps, the brick walls, the can’ts?

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Or do you see the doors, the windows, the what ifs?

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It’s no secret that I see the what-ifs. (Unless I’m cranky, then I’m all about the I-don’t-wannas …. :D) I think this is one reason I really like this hump day ad, Free To Be – 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Summit. It’s well designed, cleverly edited and full of feel-goods. By the way, the accompanying song is Cat Stevens’s If You Want to Sing Out.

The ad ran this fall, during the peak of the election cycle, and Jeep did a great job of taking a very angsty, emotional time in the US and flipping it, reminding us that we’re better together. Jeep reminded us that, if we want to, we can see beyond our differences to that which makes us a community. My question for you: do you want to?

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Happy Hump Day, may you find more doors than brick walls!

 

We Can Do So Much

Have you ever been intimidated by a task? Whether it was achieving a personal dream or delivering a project at work, our tasks can be enormous.

How many times have you walked away from a goal because it seemed too large, too impossible? We all have that little voice in our heads that doubts whether something can be done. Sometimes, those voices come from outside.

“You’ll never make it.”

“It’ll never last.“

“What a mess.” 

“Why bother? No one will listen to you.”

I can’t be the only one that has heard these from family, friends and coworkers, can I?

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And yet, we find that we can achieve our goals. Some of you have gone back to school and gotten your college degree while working full time. Or you got  a long dreamed for promotion. Maybe you launched that project on time and on budget. You shot for the moon and made it farther than you ever expected. In other words, you managed to achieve your goal in spite of the challenges.

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Did you do it alone? Did you rely on family, friends and coworkers? Maybe a stranger lent a hand? Were you that person that lent someone else your support?

As we wind up 2016, let’s take a moment to appreciate those who helped us along the way. Let’s also stop to consider who we can support – whether it’s the local food bank or shelter, friend or stranger, I hope y’all reach out.