Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Creating meaning

When my husband suggested almost a year ago that I start a blog focusing on two of my absolute  favorite things - cities and running - I thought it would be a fun exercise. Little did I know that I would discover how these two things are a huge part of me. Writing this blog is an expression of who I am and what I believe in. Sure, that sounds corny, but at the end of my life I want to look back and know that I did something I believe in. Something that really matters.

Today I was forwarded this fantastic blog by Umair Haque that discusses creating a meaningful life through meaningful work. Having attended two funerals this week, I thought I was all tapped out on gaining perspective, but Umair took it one step further. It really got me thinking about the meaning in what I do.

I am fortunate to love, REALLY love, what I do and where I work. I am a 100% true believer in the importance of cities and placemaking.  Sometimes as a lobbyist I get bogged down in the details of specific legislation. This can be as tedious as changing a "may" to a "shall" or arguing with another organization over some minute detail that later no one will even remember. At times I have to take a step back and remember that at the end of the day, even the tiniest detail may ensure a community can invest in what matters -creating a place where people want to live, work and play.

At a bill signing with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
I love running. I'm never going to win a marathon, and some runs are better than others. Even on those days when I struggle to put one foot in front of the other, I always feel better after a bad run then if I'd decided to not go.  There is something so fulfilling about traveling and exploring an entirely new city in my running shoes. 
Running in Boston - one of my favorite cities
In his blog Umair asks three questions about the meaning of your work: Does it stand the test of time? Does it stand the test of excellence? Does it stand the test of you? In my career, I can proudly answer yes to all three of these things. There is a lot of legislation that passes in Lansing that has a real and significant impact on placemaking in our communities. I could not be prouder to be even a small part of it.

Chicago - the pinnacle of placemaking
When it comes to running and writing this blog, I can answer yes again to all three of those questions. I started doing this blog just for me, but I've gotten the most surprising support from the most random of sources. I have had other people ask me for help and advice in starting a running program. I've had input from total strangers about races to run. I had someone say they booked a weekend vacation based upon one of my blogs. I've had race organizers respond about specific concerns I discussed with regard to their race. This blog (much like running) started as something I did for fun and turned into something I need to do.

In downtown Detroit after a race
There are lots of moments in every day when I think "really? Who actually cares?" But the sum total of what I do every day matters to someone. Most of all it matters to me.

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