WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

September 24, 2013

WordFood’s Four Footed Conversation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 6:52 pm

September brings golden aspens to the hills, and this morning at 8 am I was up at AA Stables in the chill and breezes of a pretty fall morning getting a sorrel named Archie ready to ride. Ginger, the stable owner, allowed me to set up the tack with minimal assistance from Chris, who was feeding today. I set an old, tough Aussie stock saddle on Archie’s back and he blew out his gut- something every rider is familiar with, a trick that ensures that the girth isn’t so tight later on the ride. This can have disastrous circumstances if you don’t tighten it several times. So I did my best. The saddle was very old and the leather recalcitrant, but I was finally able to get one more hole out of the cinch. I asked Chris to check and she gave me the go-ahead. However, Archie didn’t want to head up alone, and he resisted me every step of the way.

Archie and I walk-trotted up the rocky, aspen lined lanes of this mine-dotted territory, taking short canters where possible in the warming air, and enjoying the distant snows against perfect blue skies. We passed an abandoned mine, and I asked for another canter. Suddenly I felt the world go sideways, and I started to slide overboard as my saddle went south.

Anyone who’s ever had this happen can recount how this happens in perfect slo-mo. Over you go, helpless, and there’s the horse’s belly, BAM. Unfortunately all my 120 lbs landed square on a single rock in the lower back, and I tweaked my recently-repaired left knee in the process. Ouch.

Of course Archie now had a saddle under his belly and was lurching about, we were on a rocky lane that dropped off precipitously, and I had to get the heck up and calm him down as well as get the tack back on his back. I tied him off, and while this 1000 lb gelding was body blocking me against the trees I did my best to quiet him while at the same time manhandle the saddle. Archie was ready to head back to the stables NOW.

He’d done what he wanted, all right. I was dumped. However, the cinch, that part of the saddle the goes under the belly to keep the saddle on, was now snugly around his manly horse parts. Archie was not happy at my attempts to move the cinch- to which he responded with a powerful circular swipe of his left rear hoof- or my attempts to move the saddle forward without touching said manly horse parts. I already had one angry knee, and that hoof can do the same devastation as a 6’9″, 400lb linebacker.

I danced out of the way and looked for inspiration. Up here there wasn’t much, but there was my answer: big tufts of nice green grass. I led Archie over, tied him off, and while he was busy munching I pulled up and loosened the cinch in one quick move before he knew what happened. In no time the saddle was back on.

The cinch was now two holes tighter, and Archie had copped two mouthfuls of grass. Ten minutes of inconvenience. And for his craftiness, Archie got his tender bits repeatedly tweaked. Archie turned expectantly towards the stables. I turned him uphill, and on we went. He was most unhappy, and bucked three times to prove it. We had quite the conversation.

I could have walked Archie back to the stable.  Riders fix the problem and keep riding. There were so many lessons in this little adventure ranging from the constant reminder to ride a while and check that cinch once more time, to how like a personal relationship this is. The more I thought, the more I laughed. In every way, it was a gift. Sure I have a sore butt. But as I continue to train for my adventures in Tanzania, including a six-day horse safari, Archie’s argumentativeness gave me the perfect opportunity for problem solving on the trail in a relatively controlled environment. Better learn here than first time in Africa with a predator close by.

Those of us who love horses know that accidents, spills and bruises are a part of riding. Archie had his own agenda, and he paid a price for wanting a looser girth. I paid a price for not double checking. Great lessons all around. I’m going back next Tuesday, a little blue in the butt, for lots more. This time, I’m triple checking the girth. Thanks, Archie, priceless lesson learned.

In every aspect of our dealings with children, dogs, horses and those we love, the friction that we encounter is the place where we learn the most if we are open to it. If we own our part of it, and are willing to have a horselaugh along the way.

September 16, 2013

WordFood of Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 8:11 am

When bad things happen to us, it’s easy to think you’re being targeted. “Why me?” comes to mind, as though God or the Universe has specifically pointed a finger at this one human being for punishment out of the billions on the planet. It’s supremely egotistical to think this way, especially when at any given time on this globe there are plenty of folks having a hard time of it.

This past weekend I was working on a project in my basement office. At one point I’d used the downstairs toilet. After about an hour or so, my coffee was barking at me so it was time to make a pit stop again. This time my stockinged feet landed in about three inches of water surging out of the bathroom- so I rushed in to find that the entire room was floating in a small ocean. In fact, my basement was in the process of being flooded. I was able to get the toilet to stop running, but not in time to stop the water from creeping into my office, the extra office, the extra bedroom and pretty much everywhere else. Sigh.

I called my insurance company which was quite happy to open up a claim. Within minutes I got a call from a guy who politely informed me that while they were also quite happy to help, there was no water mitigation contractor within their system to help me out. Anyone who’s been following Colorado news is well aware that there are a whole lot of folks who not only have a bit of water in their basements right now, they don’t have basements at all, much less a home to sleep in. I called the alternate they provided, and was told that I might get a phone call later this week, long after the water has done much more serious damage. It already smells hinky down there. But the truth is, I still have a basement, a roof over my head, and I live on high enough ground so that the flooding isn’t a danger to me. The inconvenience of a stinky carpet is nothing by comparison and hey, I didn’t like the Berber down there anyway.

Last December, my girlfriend Soni and I had met for dinner. My boyfriend had just ended our relationship for the umpteenth time and she was unattached. We were bemoaning the fact until I pointed out that – it was December 14th- there were a great many people in Sandy Hook who would never, ever have a Merry Christmas ever again, and that perhaps our little issues weren’t that big a deal by comparison. She agreed, and we went on to discuss more important issues.

The chaos of life is just that: chaos. There is no unpredictable Greek god sitting amidst the clouds pointing lightning bolts at out butts to annoy us out of spite. Life just happens. Here in Colorado Mother Nature is wreaking havoc with many lives and she’s taken some from us. By comparison, a capricious toilet is nothing. It pays to keep in mind that no one gets singled out for special treatment. It’s how we talk to ourselves about it, gain perspective and wisdom, and especially a sense of humor about life’s vicissitudes that make us useful to each other. Invariably we will encounter others who have undergone something worse, or who need our perspective. And that’s when we will understand why we experienced the challenges that we did: they help us to serve someone else. Our WordFood of perspective to someone else who is suffering makes all the difference in the world.

September 1, 2013

The WordFood Ballpark Diet

Whether you’re a Mike Trout or a Mike Vick fan, fall is a tough time of year for non-sports fans. Then there are those for whom it’s Miller time, as the days start to cool a little, the NFL is here to stay for a while, the baseball season starts to get really interesting (Dodgers anyone?) and for people like me, the football channel is on pretty much 24/7. Others begin to salivate for hockey- remember the playoffs? or basketball- remember THOSE playoffs? and in general, we sports fans all have our fixes as fall brightens the trees.

For those who know me well, only my closest and dearest friends are allowed to call me on hallowed days like Sunday, Monday and Thursdays when games are playing. If I recognize the number, I’ll pick it up. Otherwise, I’m buried in the game. Off game time I’ll discuss fumbles and pick sixes and game winning drives with any fool dumb enough to start a football conversation with me. And here’s my point. There are times to turn this off. Despite my love for the game, which my girlfriend Lori knows will dominate the Thanksgiving table when her husband Brad and I get going, there are times you need to flip the switch for others.

Whatever you’re crazy about, be it sports, your toy train collection, your IT expertise that you love to obfuscate conversations with or the fascination you have with stilettos, when others glaze over, shut up. Listen. There are those who don’t share our passions. And sometimes we simply don’t realize that we are steamrolling- and isolating- others in our world when we overwhelm and overtalk what we love.

Guys don’t appreciate it when a group of women gather and take over the conversation to discuss the latest sales at Neiman’s or the latest news about baby clothes. Any more than women like it when the guys overwhelm a business meeting with a play-by-play that completely leaves out most of the women in the room (unless of course they’re as avid as I am). Sometimes it’s a ploy to take over the conversation. Sometimes people have no clue what they’re doing. And sometimes, they most assuredly do know, such as when an expert wields highly technical knowledge that they know you don’t only to make the point about how little you understand his specialized knowledge. It’s offensive in all cases.

There are lots of ways to respond. You can stomp out and be angry. You can join in. You can learn the language. My friend Meg was married to a sports broadcaster, and to her advantage she learned the language and the issues. It served her well- she sat for years on the boards of the country’s biggest banks, including Wells Fargo. You can gently change the subject, or ask good, intelligent questions to learn more. Be curious. Getting uptight is the worst response.

What’s perhaps most important- and I have to remember this as much as anyone in my football circles, that not everyone shares my passion for pigskin. Certainly not every man, but increasingly I find women who do. The point is to be aware of when you’re being overbearing. When someone is starting to overwhelm you, the meeting, the party, find a lighthearted way to redirect. Depending on the circumstances you may learn something new, make new friends, discover a new passion yourself.

So as we enter into my favorite time of the year, I have to remember that fall doesn’t mean football to everybody else.  Let’s stay open to other people’s interests, and gently remind them that we have a few of our own.

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