The week before last was replete with special events. We finally gathered to celebrate Alex’s 29th birthday. I joined my friend Keri for an evening of sorority fun. We hosted the 6th annual Lazy W Talent Show, Thrift Store Prom style!! And one afternoon that week I drove to the city to attend the Public Utilities Division October team builder. I have great stories from each of these memorable events, but today I want to express some gratitude about the team builder. If my dad catches wind of this, he will chalk it up to an episode of the Mutual Admiration Society.
When Handsome first told me we were both invited to this luncheon, I was excited to bear witness to what I thought would be the group’s loving sendoff to their fearless leader. In case you don’t know, back in May, BW accepted a new position at the Commish, which has gradually meant less and less time with the Public Utilities crew. It’s bittersweet. He has been there for so long, seen so much and been a part of so much history, made so many connections and started more than a few revolutions (my words, not his). He has had myriad opportunities to leave the Commish itself over the years, but it was never a real consideration. He has always felt there was more to do there, and he has been right. By taking this new job, though, he has better opportunity to do more of what he has been doing. Exactly the latitude and support to affect even more real change than before, and everyone is excited. Still, as bittersweet changes go, it means stepping away from the beloved fifth floor.
I am not exaggerating to say that the fifth floor is beloved. The people there in Public Utilities, the work everyone does, ongoing, storm after storm, crisis after crisis, almost always going unrecognized and unappreciated by the citizens and companies under their watchful protection, it all blows my mind. The Public Utilities Division is filled with some of the smartest, most motivated people in Oklahoma. A family of their own, too, in all the ways that a workplace can be a family. My husband loves them, as people and as a little community, an organism. And they love my husband.
I love them too, from a distance. I always relish hearing about the group’s accomplishments and culture shifts. I have been fascinated to see how the team builder tradition has evolved over the years. I admire how they have implemented so many strong policies that ensure the best possible work environment, transparency, cohesiveness, efficiency, you name it. They shine with both excellence and work-life balance.
It’s better than a James Clear newsletter, all respect to Atomic Habits. It’s even better than Adam Grant, and man that’s saying a lot. So I make them lots of cinnamon rolls and cookies to show my admiration.
The belated farewell to him is what I thought we were attending.
How humbling then, when as we sat down for lunch, after trading hugs and greetings with as many people as possible, that they surprised me and took so much time to pour their love out to me, personally. I was not expecting it. I was expecting a creative sendoff to BW, something akin to a retirement farewell, even though he is very much still in the building and involved in their culture. I was not expecting that personal show of Love.
They made me feel appreciated for supporting the man who has done so much for them, and they made that seem important. Valuable. They showed that the love I try to transmit to them has been felt along the way, which makes me so happy. These men and women are captivating to me, whether they know it or not. It’s also gratifying, I have to admit, to sense the far reaching effects of nourishing and supporting my husband so that he can perform well. His performance impacts so many people, and their outpouring connected us, included me in this beautiful fabric.
It all widened what can sometimes feel like a very small, isolated world here at the farm. And hearing from individual people I have been admiring and emulating in private ways just moved my heart. Lesia looked me straight in the eyes and convinced me that I belong to them, and I hope she knows how much I needed to hear that.
Thankfully the group did finally move on to honor BW, ha! I could allow the heat in my face to cool a bit. I could try to hold back tears for him instead of for myself.
What a gift to hear the full spectrum of ways he has impacted people’s lives and careers, their happiness at work, their sense of purpose and personal development. I know how much they mean to him, how invested he has been in them over the years, so it fed my heart mightily to see him honored. They all shared a beautiful euphony of how he has steered the division into a position of leadership and example for the agency at large. It’s good, very good, to have some home team pride, and this group has it. They deserve to be proud of themselves and where they are headed, collectively and individually.
When BW stood to speak to the group, the Love just continued to flow. I felt like we were at church. He mirrored every scrap of appreciation right back to them, and he pointed them straight and true to the future, to the next chapter. He reminded them that they are the ones making everything happen. I sat there beaming inwardly and having a crush on him with every word he spoke, knowing how earnestly he means what he says. Knowing how satisfied he always is by not just the hard work and brilliant results for which PUD is known, but also the culture of respect and appreciation they all foster.
It is a workplace, sure, and a government office at that; but Love reigns there. I felt it that day in overwhelming ways. Love streams through those complex relationships, the projects, the unprecedented challenges, the thrilling solutions. Love buoys them all and delivers them to shores beyond reasonable expectations. This is why I do not worry about the current storms or the unseen ones. Storms always pass, even the scariest ones. Love abides.
After the luncheon and several more hugs and precious conversations which I tucked away in my heart, BW took me around the building to see friends I had not seen in many years and to meet lots of new (to me) faces. The Commission is teeming with talent and passion, and those marble floors and art deco rooms have seen some amazing events. I felt deeply inspired by the end of our tour, and I appreciate my husband sharing so much with me that day.
I am sure looking forward to getting better acquainted with more people from all over the building. I am excited to bake for their meetings and hear their stories, to bear witness to their revolutions and wild, overcoming successes. A lot of glory is on the horizon for Oklahoma and the agencies that support her. How exciting to witness it all.
But Public Utilities will always have my heart. I hope they know that.
With much gratitude and very real affection,
Former PUD Homeroom Mom