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InFullBloom Archives

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UPCOMING
Predict and Prepare sponsored by Workday 12/16

PAST BUT AVAILABLE FOR REPLAY
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #171, 2/15
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #160, 8/14
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #145, 1/14
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #134, 8/13
CXOTalk: Naomi Bloom, Nenshad Bardoliwalla, and Michael Krigsman, 3/15/2013
Drive Thru HR, 12/17/12
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #110, 8/12
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Business Value," 5/3/12 Audio/Whitepaper
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/7/11
HR Happy Hour - Episode 118 - 'Work and the Future of Work', 9/23/11
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #87, 9/11
Keynote, Connections Ultimate Partner Forum, 3/9-12/11
"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
Keynote for Workforce Management's first ever virtual HR technology conference, 6/8/10
Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Preparing to Lead the Recovery," 11/19/09 Audio/Powerpoint
"Enterprise unplugged: Riffing on failure and performance," a Michael Krigsman podcast 11/9/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
Workday SOR Webinar, 8/25/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #15, 10/08

PAST BUT NO REPLAY AVAILABLE
Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
Master Panel, HR Technology, Chicago, 10/9/012
Keynote, Workforce Magazine HR Tech Week, 6/6/12
Webcast Sponsored by Workday: "Building a Solid Business Case for HR Technology Change," 5/31/12
Keynote, Saba Global Summit, Miami, 3/19-22/12
Workday Rising, Las Vegas, 10/24-27/11
HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
HR Florida, Orlando 8/29-31/11
Boussias Communications HR Effectiveness Forum, Athens, Greece 6/16-17/11
HR Demo Show, Las Vegas 5/24-26/11
Workday Rising, 10/11/10
HRO Summit, 10/22/09
HR Technology, Keynote and Panel, 10/2/09

Adventures of Bloom & Wallace

a work in progress

Let’s Talk About Life: The Power Of Memories

My 55th Birthday Celebration Weekend

My father passed away in 1995 just before my 50th birthday, and we buried him on my birthday.  At his funeral, there was quite a crowd, not because of his prominence but because of all he had done for others in the community where he’d lived all his life.  Not a man of any wealth, he had given generously of his time and talents to a range of organizations and individuals, and it was wonderful to hear their stories of how my very humble father had made such an important difference in their lives.  In particular I was struck by the folks, mostly strangers to me, who told me about my Dad’s having taken one of their parents under his wing, going with them to doctors’ appointments, helping them with their bookkeeping, or just taking them out to lunch.  Dad had lived the values of our faith, of tzedakah, and in doing so he had earned the warm send-off that he got.

My older sister (there are just the two of us) had also lived her entire life (and still does) in that same or the neighboring community, except when her husband was in law school in DC.  She was surrounded by hordes of people she’d known all her life, many of whom knew each other.  They were connected by having gone to the same schools, raised children in the same neighborhoods, attended the same synagogues, shopped at the same markets, connected through work, and the list goes on of ways in which hometown folks are connected directly or through a mutual friend.  I saw how their presence comforted and sustained my sister, and how their shared experiences, recounted for the umpteenth time, renewed their bonds of friendship.  I envied my sister the warmth of community, the comfort of familiarity, and the strength that deep roots can provide.  But I had chosen a very different lifestyle and, in that song made famous by Edith Piaf, je ne regrette rien.

My life had been lived in many places, and my friends were scattered far and wide.  I was so grateful that several of them had traveled far to be with me on that dreadful day, but I was also struck by the fact that friends from the different parts of my life had never met each other, or met any of my family.  Long after we buried my Dad, that thought remained.  I didn’t want my global community of friends and family (all of Ron’s family are in the Pacific Northwest) to meet for the first time at my own funeral.  And that’s where the idea originated for my 55th birthday party weekend.  What if we threw a three day party, invited friends and family from all over, entertained them with everything from steel band to mariachis, fed them everything from traditional Jewish soul food to tropical specialties, and made damn sure that everyone got to meet everyone else at a celebration, not of my life but of our lives?  What if we planned far enough ahead so that folks could weave a trip to Fort Myers, Florida into their own travel dreams and save up to make the trip possible?  And what if we helped some who couldn’t otherwise join us?  With the help of an amazing party planner, and now one of my closest local friends, we pulled off a party weekend to remember.  Not only was it worth every penny, but we’re all still talking about it.  Those memories have gone platinum.

It’s been nearly twenty years since that amazing weekend, and we’ve lost quite a few of the friends who shared it with us.  Looking through the pictures recently, I was struck by how many of our friends we had lost and how many are battling right now for the chance to create more memories.  In those nearly twenty years, my career was amazing, and it was really wonderful to watch, helping where I could, a new generation or two of colleagues as well as of HR software.  In those nearly twenty years, we traveled a great deal to places around the globe where we already had friends as well as to places we couldn’t even pronounce and where we knew no one.  We sailed the Caribbean, sold our own Caliber 40′ sloop and replaced it with an American Tug 34′ trawler, cruised most of the European rivers as well as some several seas and oceans, trekked to Machu Pichu and camped luxuriously at Uluru, and we made many new friends along the way.  From Agatha Christie Festivals in Devon to Ngaio Marsh’s home in Christchurch, we kept on the move, making really wonderful memories, until longstanding body design flaws caught up with me.  I finally retired when my legs just couldn’t carry me at the pace my work required, but we were able to modify our personal travel style and pacing to accommodate my increasingly wonky legs.  And all that time, from long before my 55th until last fall, we were amassing wonderful memories without ever realizing that they were investments which would pay huge dividends.

When Ron was diagnosed with his 2nd cancer last November, we thought it would be like his 1st cancer, from which he’d been in remission for more than a decade.  Another well-known, quite common cancer, another well-known and very successful chemo treatment protocol, an entirely workable treatment schedule done at our excellent local cancer center, and an excellent prognosis.  Inconvenient to be sure, but nothing to cause any real alarm.  So we cancelled a planned small ship cruise up the Amazon, and flung ourselves into cancer treatment, managing the inevitable side effects, keeping away from crowds and obvious sources of potential illnesses, and counting off the treatment days.  As before, Ron handled even this much stronger chemo with his usual aplomb and had minimal side effects.  He even made light of his chemo-baldness by wearing a red court jester cap, complete with bells, along with his tuxedo to a major fundraising ball.  But then the music stopped.  At first, it looked like the treatment had been a winner, and then it didn’t.  I won’t bore you with the details, but what looked like a temporary inconvenience and a short hold on our travel dreams morphed, along with his cancer cells, into the need for a much more complex treatment protocol, lots more cancelled travel, and considerable uncertainty about when we’ll be able to hit the road again and how far immune system issues may permit us to go.

And that brings me to the power of memories.  We’ve been damn lucky in our lives, and we’re hoping for more of the same.  Best doctors, latest treatment, and great insurance coverage added to Ron’s otherwise good health and my project management abilities are the ingredients for a successful outcome.  But it’s all going to take time, time during which we’ll need to stay off the road, stay away from crowds, and stay as healthy as possible.  So our travel dreams list (the Amazon’s orchids, Africa’s Great Migration, Papua New Guinea for the annual Sing Sing, India’s Royal Triangle, and much more) as well as the chance for one more visit with cherished friends around the world before age and my wonky legs make many of those trips unachievable are now on hold.  Our top priority is Ron’s health, and we’ll do whatever it takes to wring the best results out of the prescribed treatment.  For anyone who’s curious, it’s called CAR T-cell therapy, and a good overview can be found here.  

Building memories is so important because they sustain you during the tough times.  And renewing relationships, by investing precious time in them, does the same.  Ron and I are so grateful for all that we were able to do before my legs got wonky and then during his ten years of remission from his first cancer.  We’re especially grateful for the friends/family with whom we spent time, even when time was tight.  Now, when our lives are filled with uncertainties and we’re preparing for the challenges ahead, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve found real joy in remembering the wonderful places, people, and experiences with which we’ve been blessed to fill our lives.  I’ve even used some of those experiences, e.g. sailing into Saltwhistle Bay on Mayreau, dropping anchor, and swimming ashore to the beach bar made entirely of grapefruit-sized, smooth as silk boulders of unknown origin, in one of the visualization techniques with which I help manage my chronic pain.  Just as we should all live healthy lives in order to give ourselves the best possible chance at a long and productive “twilight,” I believe that we should all live lives as large as possible, filled with as many experiences and healthy relationships as possible.  When the inevitable shrinking of our worlds happens with age or illness or whatever, we’ll have big balances in our memories and friendship accounts upon which to draw — and we all need them.

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