The Sudden Death of David Goldberg

It is well after midnight.

Our one-year-old son is in bed between my husband and I as he is both teething and has the sniffles. He’s waking every 20-30 minutes. It will be a long night.

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We discuss the annoying necessity of being politic and diplomatic, which is not really a strong point for either of us. Genuine, enthusiastic, passionate, knowledgeable or engaged we can both pull off effortlessly.

Suffering fools and/or “playing the game” does not, however, come naturally to either of us.

He is crafting messages, responses and presentations. Some of these are for people and entities we admire and trust, and some that make us sigh and roll our eyes, but engage we must, and engage we will.

We discuss the week ahead. It is as full as any we have grown accustomed to lately. That means we will be working from the crack of dawn till hours after the sun retires for the evening.

I ask him for the hundredth time if he has sent off the raw footage for editing or to the partners that hosted us on a recent PR trip up and down the country. He asks me if I have finished my personal bio or written the copy for one of the several websites. The answer to both of these questions (nagging) is no, but the list of things we HAVE accomplished is as vast as an ocean stretching endlessly out around us both.

This is all completely normal stuff for married couples that work together, or even in the same industry as far as we are concerned.

We each act; as sounding board, champions, devil’s advocate, support, hindrance, help, annoyance. Yet, we are a team.

I get to live every day in the knowledge that I have a partner who cares about the same things that I do. He supports me in good times and in bad. He helps to make sure our kids, household and lives keep chugging along.

He is also working vehemently and tirelessly on projects that we both feel, will make the world a better place. This makes me weak in the knees and so proud of him that I worry my heart might beat right out of my chest some days.

Sometimes we drive each other crazy with frustration or poor communication. Sometimes we get to the point we can’t even stand the sight of each other.

Most of the time, however, I can’t imagine a life where we aren’t attacking the same problems, or working towards the same goals, albeit from completely different angles.

We were married in 2004.  Just like they were.  We met in geek circles as did they.  We have eerily similar original last names, as do they.

We have four exceptional and unique children with exceptional and unique needs (all children are exceptional and unique and need exceptionally unique things as far as I am aware, just as an aside). The Sandberg/Goldberg team were sensible enough to have two children who they both nurture and support in equal measure if reports are to be believed. We are blessed with a diverse and amazing group of friends who all have integrity, make us laugh, keep us honest, and do not tolerate douchebaggery. The outpouring of Love and respect I have read lead me to believe they choose to work and play with similarly good and engaging people.

Life makes sense when we are together. I am no longer completely sure where one of us begins and the other one finishes, as we both occupy so much of the each other. Two halves of a whole, but not so much with distinguishable borders, like a coin or the well-known yin and yan symbol. At this point in our lives, I’d say we are more like an alloy. Melded quite inextricably together with heat and pressure.

Enough metaphor.

The reason I am writing this blog is that I am undeniably shaken and heartbroken by the news of the kind, clever, gloriously geeky Dave Goldberg’s passing.

Sheryl Sandberg is firmly in my top twenty, of smart girls to look up to.

These two are, or I guess more accurately now, were, the ultimate Silicon Valley power couple.

Humble, kind, successful, powerful, respected… and torn from each other when he was only 47 years old.

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I am not suggesting Grumpy and I are a power couple, or in any other way anywhere near the league of team Goldberg/Sandberg.  What I am saying, is that I have always found their relationship inspirational and relatable.  Days without my husband are unbearable.  We have seen each other nearly every day for well over a decade now, and that works for us.  I cannot begin to imagine life without this.

We are partners. We are equals.  We are astoundingly different human beings with obviously different personalities and strengths.

The idea of losing the biggest part of me is unfathomable.

The clock ticks well past 1:00am. Phteven is still working. Our four year old has joined us in our bed because he’s had a bad dream. The ten year old was not far behind him.

While I finish off this blog to be handed over for my husband to edit, he gets up to administer a dose of antihistamine to our oldest son so we might all get some much needed sleep.

Tomorrow I will be exhausted and probably pretty grumpy as is often the case these days.

But I will be thankful. I will be thankful for the moments as they occur and as they pass, and I will be thankful for every day I get to be a part of team West.

Rest well David Goldberg.

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Living Life Out Loud and Feeling a Bit Exposed…

I’ve made a very conscious choice to wear faults and failings, as I do my triumphs and adventures, on my sleeve.

Sharing thoughts, experiences and feelings with the world; online and often, is commonplace for me.

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At worst, it opens me up to judgment and scrutiny from strangers and haters. At best it opens up my heart and life (and message folder) to people who become great friends and allies in the altogether hectic, painful, beautiful, difficult and wonderful life.

Wow, I started in with the pithy pretty early in this blog.

Hang in there please, this should be good and useful stuff if you manage to shovel through the schmaltz and stick with me until I wrap this up.

So, why am I so open? Am I simply an insecure and needy exhibitionist type? Do I crave acceptance and absolution from strangers and friends and plead my case regularly and publicly in an attempt to win you all over? Am I so arrogant that I think an audience will benefit immeasurably from my experiences?

There’s almost certainly an element to all of these things.

Here’s the thing that I keep coming back to though:

Every person who lives and breaths is amazing, complex, beautiful and we all have some ugliness mixed in in varying degrees at various times.

I sincerely feel that the distance between each and every one of us decreases with candor and sharing. I also believe that the absolute shortest distance between people is shared laughter.

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I share stories and very actively toil to add an element of humour when I share thoughts and experiences. Sometimes it is in the form of self-deprecation, sometimes the stories I share are absurd enough that they require no finessing to be funny.

Here’s the thing though; You and everyone else has absolute power to twist anything I share. You can throw confessions or thoughts back in my face. You can alter and contort any of my experiences or stories with simple additions, exclusions, amplifications or exaggerations as you see fit.

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Once I share anything, it is no longer exclusively mine. By virtue of taking the time to read the words I write, you own a bit of real estate in my life, my heart and my head. I give it to you and anyone else who chooses to read my blog or anything I share freely.

Some people put a great deal of effort into building walls and feeding an identity that makes them feel safe or secure. Some people put their best face forward all the time and want to convince themselves and the world that they have their s*** together.

I have no hope of ever convincing anyone that I have my s*** together. I am a hot mess with a big heart and high-ideals. Being as deliciously different as I am means I am privy to hurts and helps far superior to anything I’d ever have imagined I’d feel or know.  I feel like I have the freedom to be myself openly and honestly, and I feel like that makes me a better friend, role model to my children, and generally a happier freer person because I don’t have to worry about people finding out about the real me, as the real me is the me I get to be most of the time.

It also means I see greatness, brokenness, faults and fabulousness in everyone else I see and meet. There’s not as much distance between you and me and everyone else on this planet as some people perceive. We’re all fighting battles, and we’re all learning in varying degrees and with varying speed and success.

I am an observer and a participant in this life, as we all are.

Even after years, or decades, of living life out loud, I am still absolutely devastated when people interpret my kindness for weakness, my vulnerability for feebleness, my quirkiness for foolishness, or my earnest for naivety.

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I share my learning with people, in the hopes that they will share theirs with me, and we’ll both be better off. My opinions and beliefs are changing all the time based on the stories and opinions people generously share with me.

The absolute best and worst part of my existence is people.

Being naked and vulnerable as I choose to be means there are people who don’t require much encouragement to decide that they are far superior to me in some or many ways.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, people hurt other people in cowardly, backhanded or childish way.  Sometimes our closest friends and staunchest allies break our hearts with words and actions, despite having the absolute best intentions.  Because I choose to let people into my thoughts, and life so actively, people can hurt me without too much effort.  I get that.  And for the most part, I can take the good with the bad.

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Because I openly and honestly share my struggles with ADD, depression, parenting, professional life, friendships, marriage, self-esteem, relationships, power struggles, pain, loss, Love, learning, travel, health, hope, happiness and sadness;  some people dismiss me, or attack me, with my own words. Other people engage with me on a level of trust and Love and friendship that makes this whole life more manageable for both of us I think.  It is a risk we all take when we share a bit or ourselves I suppose.

If you take the time to read or share any of this with me, you get to decide how you relate to me, and my journey. You get to decide if you find my choices and behaviours uplifting or abhorrent. You get to decide if you feel superior, equal, or comforted. You get to decide if you see some of yourself in my observations and experiences. You have total control over how you decide to pick up what I am throwing down as I share these (and any other) words with you.

So, thank you from the very bottom of my heart for sharing the journey with me occasionally, frequently, or closely. Please take it easy on me, and anyone else that has the courage to share a bit of themselves with you.  And you can be as open or as guarded as you want with your life and experiences, and I will go ahead and keep living my life out loud and feeling elated and vulnerable at differing times and to differing degrees.

Guess that’s it for today.

Thank you, especially because this was a long one, for tuning in and sharing the journey with me.

The Friendship Formula. Is There a Formula?

Today, I was chatting with one of my best friends for nearly 20 years.

P and I go back so far we can’t pinpoint when or how we actually met. We’ve been allies and friends through ups and downs. Which is strange to some people as, on the surface, we could not be more different.

She is elegant, thin, organised, has impeccable taste, looks like Audrey Hepburn and is as discerning with her relationships as I am open and willing to connect with EVERYONE. Yet, evidence clearly states, that we work.  We both actively choose to maintain an honest, and significant friendship.  She knows my faults and foibles, and I hers, and we can roll our eyes at each others shortcomings.  If, however, anyone were to say anything untrue or unkind to me about her, I’d take it like a personal attack and go heartily into battle for her.

So this morning’s topics covered included, but were not limited to:

  • Christening my youngest son (her and our friend R’s Godson)
  • Birthday plans (belated and future)
  • Current state of play for both our careers
  • Social calendars
  • Friendship
  • Family
  • Food
  • Travel
  • Marriage
  • Equity Theory: we had to cover that in our undergrad comms degree, here is a picture:

EquityTheory

  • Renovations
  • Pathological overachieving
  • Emancipation from drama and silly people
  • The fact I have FAR too many children (but we Love and like them anyway)

I feel much better, stronger, and more able to deal with my own, and other people’s challenges after this chat. The vast rejuvenation of spirit came about even after just a short opportunity to connect with her over the digital superhighway.

Friendship confounds me. Luckily, it doesn’t elude me.  I’m an active (all-be-it only sporadically available) participant in more functioning and healthy relationships than I could ever have imagined.

Strange and wonderful really. Especially when you consider how lonely, broken, bossy, awkward and ostracized I was (or at least felt) when I was little.

So, as is the case with all the things, I want to know MORE! I want to know WHY!

Science concedes that friendship is an absolutely integral part of our lives. We are social creatures, and our alliances get us through the unimaginable things that get thrown at us from time to time. Friendships also offer us context, clarity, and comfort. The people we spend the most time with can shape our opinions, world-views, political, social and even religious ideals, and even our own self image more than any other factors we are exposed to.

An absolute army of academics has dedicated careers to unraveling the phenomenon of friendship.

So, am I able to Dee-ify this vast body of work in a crude but coherent manner for anyone inclined to read this blog?

I’ll try.

Here goes:

“Good” people make great friends, and therefore attract healthy relationships that help them, and others, to thrive. Good people are not perfect, and they do not expect you to be perfect. Truly good humans are beautifully broken, resilient, kind, open to change, and actively look for the best in themselves and others. People who choose to Love, respect and forgive themselves make and attract the best relationships. They don’t always have the most friends, sometimes they do, but they get to take part in good, healthy, honest and nurturing experiences with other humans. These people fix themselves first, because that is the first step to a fuller, and more rewarding existence.

*Disclaimer: Even people who have their S*** together fall down and mess up. They still suffer, they still hurt, they still make mistakes, and they still have to make it through very difficult life experiences that are completely out of their control. The difference is, they own their faults and learn from them instead of playing the victim or laying blame.

The kind of friend (and the kind of person) you are will naturally affect the kind of friends you choose and the kind of people who choose you.  Givers get, and the way you treat people will directly affect the kind of company you keep.

Sure there’s lots of other factors and influences that dictate who we choose to let into our hearts and homes. But generally, it is as simple as this:

Put out good stuff, and it comes back. Put out crap, you’ll eventually get a smack.

There is an inexhaustible collection of poignant pithy saying to corroborate my considerable claims on cohorts.


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I’ve attached a list of really good scientific and psych articles on this subject if anyone wants to go a little further.

So, in conclusion; be the kind of friend you’d like to have. Be okay with walking away from toxic relationships.  Fix you first.  Love yourself (all of you, even the bad bits) and seek out honest, kind, inspiring people.  And for goodness sake, surround yourself with people who make you laugh.

And here is a handful of Sciency articles on Friendship:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860

http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-importance-of-friendship/0001381

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201212/the-new-science-friendship

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/science-friendship-signs-youre-meant-ffs/851194/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equity_theory

Office Arrangement Awesomeness Makes Today a MAGIC Monday!

I’ve been moping around a little bit lately with that “why do so many people mistake my kindness for weakness and take me for a fool?” kind of storm cloud raging over my head.

Dramatic selfie of Dee moping.  Poor poor pitiful me. Boohoo.

Dramatic selfie of Dee moping. Poor poor pitiful me. Boohoo.

Total waste of time, because the moping kept me from seeing all the amazing people around me!

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Almost exactly a year ago, we had a last minute pot luck before I have birth to our fourth and final child. Just about everyone we asked came along, the kids played, the parents laughed, and I am still absolutely chuffed to know each and every person in this picture (although I wish I saw them all more and we weren’t all so busy!)

My very outgoing personality, and Grumpy’s huge heart combine to make us a very accessible, very open, generous and trusting team. We had a hitchhiker couch surf at our house for two years on and off at the beginning of our relationship, and we’ve had dozens of people and families stay with us or use any one of our holiday homes for various reasons. We like giving back, and we like showing strangers and friends the kindness that was shown to us as we maneuvered through life and sometimes needed a helping hand.  Most of these experiences have been GREAT.

Sometimes, unsavory characters creep in and leave me feeling depleted and actually pretty pissed off.

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Well, the dark clouds have lifted.

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With a workweek full of adventures and interesting campaigns and clients, four healthy, happy, and (despite being watched by their father for a good chunk of the weekend while I slept) currently uninjured children to go home to later today for laughs and cuddles, and so much to look forward to and be excited about this year, I am feeling absolutely reborn!

Our home is currently bursting at the seams with good people who are enriching our lives and CLEANING and ORGANISING everything!

I want to share with you, just how rejuvenated that help cleaning and organising has made me.

A friend from high school in Canada got me in touch with a woman who was planning on coming to NZ for a bit. We met and chatted over social media, she came for a visit with her travel companion and very dear friend Danielle, and they were only mildly scared of me and my incessant chatter and ADD-licious ways. They didn’t have any solid plans, so we agreed that they’d stay in our apartment and we’d cover room and board if they’d help us out with some things (like cleaning and kids).

A few weeks later, I arrived home from an overseas trip to San Diego for a conference (and to visit some very good friends) to a clean garage. A clean house. Clean cars. Happy kids.

A few weeks in now, the girls came in and completely renovated and finished my somewhat sad little office over the weekend. They spent all of Sunday sourcing picture frames, buying second hand furniture, moving things around, hanging curtains, and being proper angels on earth to me.

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My beloved Nerd/Dork retro cups. Too small to drink out of as I have a bucket of tea, not a cup, but definitely one of my favourite things in the world. Maria gave them to me on my 34th Birthday. She is also great. Most people are I believe.

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Retro desks, that it turns out I paid waaaayyy too much for but I love them anyway. My friends cleaned up the whole training room and put away all the bits and bobs.

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Clean desk! Wonder how long it will stay this way?

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Training room at the ready!

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Clean desk sans Dee selfie 🙂

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Come over and have a chat with me at the office anytime! It looks great!

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Fffffffoooooosebook.

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Nerd Dork in pride of place (as it ought to be!)

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Tidy little kitchen with plenty of geekiness.

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Training room ready for some lucky guests to come and feel all cosy and LEARN some cool stuff!

Fave pic!  Great spot for it Thanks ladies!

Fave pic! Great spot for it Thanks ladies!

So, if you are having a tough run and dealing with not-so-great people, hang in there. And, as far as I can tell, there are FAR more good people out there than bad ones, and even the ones who leave us feeling a little tired and scarred have something to teach us, so please keep your heart and mind open, and keep letting good people in. I know I will!