by MD Maurice
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Welcome to the place were I chronicle my own falls down dark holes and adventures chasing white rabbits! Come on In, Take a Bite, You Never Know What You May Find...
"Curiouser and curiouser." Alice in Wonderland
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 27th
Write about a time when you surprised yourself with your abilities. Is there a specific time you can remember when you were convinced that you could not do something, and then you did it? Tell us!
I've been struggling with this prompt this morning, not because I have done so many things but because I was never raised to believe I could not do something. My parents subscribed to the adage that "you can be or do anything you want in life if you work hard enough" philosophy. The concept of there being something I was "convinced I couldn't do", is the part I am wrangling with. It is a bit idealist and unrealistic to believe I could have done anything of course. I don't think I could have ever been an astronaut or professional athlete for example but I also never would have pursued such things in the first place, so how would I have ever known? It seems more apt that I've been surprised by my ability to do something, or that I've done something and gotten far better results that I had expected too.
One thing that comes to mind is my semester project during my time at the University of Hilo, Hawaii. We had to work as a team to complete a density of life and diversity study on the reef at Richard's Bay. We had to lay out quadrants along a section of the reef. Then, we had to take turns identifying and counting all the organisms that appeared in every square meter of it. We did this by snorkeling just below the surface and laying down a metered square of PVC piping and recording every single element of biolife we saw, over and over again, over the entire area.
It was difficult work. The metered square was awkward and it floated up and moved with the current if you didn't grasp it tightly. The surf was often rough and it took a lot of effort to stay in place and not slip off location. The sun on our backs was unforgiving and the sunscreen had to be reapplied more often than we could afford to stop. We eventually opted for wearing t-shirts instead, which restricted movement more on the most tricky sections of reef. You had to watch out for sea urchins which were plentiful and fire coral, which was everywhere and could leave you with very nasty skin abrasions. There was always the chance encounter with sharks or moral eels to be wary off too. The weather often did not cooperate and rain and rougher seas could make focusing very difficult. The days were very long and we were all exhausted by the time our afternoons on the reef were done. We also still had to write the paper and publish our findings and the project was to be our entire grade for the course.
By the end, our team of three was nearly wrung out with the efforts. The was only one day left to complete the last section and we had only 5 hours to do it in. We were also down a team member, Ray, was out with a stomach flu. It fell to me and my teammate Heather, to get the field work completed on time. We worked in shifts on the worst weather day we had seen. A particularly strong surf had slammed us both into the coral heads and bounced us off the bottom in the more shallow sections. We were exhausted and bloodied. I remember thinking that we would never finish. After my last break I sat, nursing my blazing elbow with my back and shoulders on fire, thinking how much I hated the thought of going back in. Everything hurt and I felt water logged and nauseous. I honestly entertained fudging the remainder of my line, just duplicating data from random sections and moving from the field to the paper writing early. Then Heather came back up, her face whipped raw but her eyes bright behind her mask. She handed me the counting square, smiled and said, "last fucking run baby!". I pulled on my mask and fins, gave her a high five and slipped over the side.
I'm not sure how I made it through that last 40 minutes, I just did. We took that final data and together our team plotted the results and produced our findings. And we kicked ass. The professor called out our team for all the effort and hard work. The three of us stood beaming in front of the class while he lavished praise on our work. I remember thinking at the start of the semester, if there was ever an instructor I had wanted to impress more than anyone, it was this guy. I had made my impression and I was thrilled. Looking back over all the data, I was really surprised at what we had accomplished and at how I had been able to rally and push myself that last day on the reef.
|30 Days Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 26th
Thanksgiving is coming up later this week in the US. Today, tell us what you’re thankful for. Make a list describing at least five things you’re thankful for.
I love that this prompt allows me to legitimately "make a list". I've already been doing that all morning for work so I am fully in the "list" zone by now.
Things I am Thankful For:
1. My family - I have a wonderful, hard working husband who knows all my baggage and dark secrets and who loves me regardless. We have a beautiful and amazing daughter who will turn 10 after the first of the year. Our little family unit is rounded out nicely by an aging Min Pin names Turk and a young dobi-mix named Lola who is my daughter's ultimate BFF. This summer we added Roo, a 12 year old gelding quarter-horse cross to our montley crew as well. Our new home puts me 7 mins from my sister and her horse farm where Roo lives. We are about 6 mins in another direction from my brother and Jaden's cousins. My siblings and I haven't lived this close to each other since we shared our childhood home and that nice. This Thanksgiving we will celebrate the first one together in one of our homes and everyone is looking forward to it.
2. My job - Though it has been responsible for a large amount of heartache recently, I am thankful for the years I have amassed and the skills I have built over two decades. It has afforded us the ability to own a nice home, take the annual vacation and otherwise live in moderate comfort. I am very grateful for the consistency and security is have given me in this life.
3. Our Home - Leaving our old home behind was harder than I had imagined but since we have settled in our new home I am so glad we made the leap when we did. I love our home, the openness of it and the space. I love the wide, residential street where we can see our neighbors walking their dogs and have that feeling of security. I love the natural yard and the fact that my daughter has space to run and play. I love our resident animal populations too from the deer to Turkeys to our fox family and resident red tail hawk. I even love to watch the bats swooping over our heads in the summer months. It had everything I could have wanted and more that I hadn't realized I could want. We are very blessed to have this place to raise our growing daughter in.
4. Health - Both my own and that of my family. I could be in better shape but overall I feel strong and healthy. I am lucky that my HS has been largely in remission, or at least has remained manageable over the last several years. I still have rough days but my outbreaks are limited to places that can not be easy seen and I can control the pain and discomfort more easily than in the past. I've also avoided much of the disfiguring scarring that others suffer from with this disease, as well as the accompanying depression. I am very grateful for that.
5. Writing - I am thankful that I am a writer, that I made this remarkable discovery so many years ago that keeps me sane. It is my anchor and my sole source of expression. It is my therapy in electronic ink. If I could not write, I am not sure I could cope effectively with being a human being. I am most thankful for my craft, that is never leaves me completely and always returns when I most need it.
I think that list is pretty much the top 5 things..
|Soon, very soon…my daughter will be in double digits. With the start of the holiday season rushing in on the coat tails of Thanksgiving, it will be here in no time at all. And while I look forward to celebrating her 10 year birthday, I do so with the familiar bitter-sweetness that has become a hallmark emotion of being her mother.
Age 9 has been an eventful one. It has been a year full of firsts. This year marked the first time she’s joined a team sport, playing for our town soccer league both outside and indoor. This is the first year we have all come to learn the delicate balance that comes with managing multiple after school commitments. This will always be the year she got her first horse. It was a beautiful moment, witnessing her stunned joy. It was a surprise unlikely to be matched by much else for many years. Age 9 also saw her first pimple, and an abundant show of gratitude once I managed to camouflage it with some of my “magic” cover-up.
This year she began wearing those tiny bralets under her clinging uniforms…a decision that was much more about laying the groundwork, rather than because she really needed them just yet. It was also the time of “the talks” about hygiene and the importance of washing her face….talks made all the more imperative after that first major pimple appearance the same week as school pictures. We talked also about a girl’s first period, something hopefully that is a year or two off. She is still so much a child, but there are some signs and things can change so rapidly and I want her to be more prepared than I was.
She is still shy, though she is beginning to open up to adults she knows. I see her testing the waters by ordering her own food and having more animated conversations with her soccer coaches on the sidelines. I think she is more outgoing when I am not around, a dynamic I don’t fully understand. All the same, I try to back off more and give her some room to engage others outside the realm of her mother’s shadow. She is still so easily embarrassed and I am always afraid to upset the balance of her world in some accidental way. I am encouraged by her building confidence on horseback but dismayed with how much she still fears getting hurt or failing at something. I find myself frustrated, watching her on the field, dogging the ball or falling back when I know she has the speed and skills to attack. I often ask myself, “How do I encourage her to be more aggressive?” Then, I find myself asking, “ but do I really want her to be more aggressive?”
My daughter is, at her core, sweet and reserved. She mostly plays her emotions close to her chest. At 9, she has developed this silly, funny sense of humor that she really only reveals to a handful of family members and her best friend. Her timing is spot on though, and I think I have laughed out loud at her antics this past year more than any before. I hope double digits brings her more confidence and more opportunities to share this wonderful, vibrant part of herself with others.
I am convinced 9 year-olds have compromised hearing. I need to repeat things four or five times before she “hears” what I am telling her yet, she her ability to eavesdrop on my conversations is startling. It has spawned more than a few arguments and shouting matches that have sent the dogs dodging for cover. My husband has frequently had to step in, to remind at least one of us, that they are an adult. My frustrations with my daughter however, pale in comparison to my pride and admiration for her.
I have seen her push herself well outside her comfort zone to achieve something she wanted. I have seen her rally after an injury, stifling tears and tabling the drama to run back out onto the field or climb back up into the saddle. She has been brave when she hasn’t really wanted to be. She has turned toward a challenge, even as I see how much she wants to run back to me.
My daughter is a nice girl. She is a good friend. She is loyal and loving. At 9, she prefers the company of girlfriends but seems to also enjoy the quiet and polite boys in her class. She seems blissfully unaware that, in the space of a few years, the boys may start paying her a bit more attention. Even as my daughter stands, fussing with stray ponytail hairs in the mirror and mugging playfully with her reflection, she is completely unaware of how beautifully unique and lovely her features are. I have caught myself tearing up at how beautiful she looks in some outfit she has casually put together, not realizing how the color she’s chosen sets off those amazing sea green eyes or how the cut and fit show the graceful lines of her slim silhouette. She is so physically different from me, that it takes my breath away. The truth is, she just takes my breath away…in the moments of her wild at play, in the midst of her darkest mood, in the sweet silences of her sleeping…in all her movements and motions.
My daughter at 9, might be my physical opposite but there are ribbons of my own nature woven into her being. She seems to share my far ranging musical tastes, adopting my playlists as her own on our car rides and during our time spent cleaning or tending to Roo. She loves having people over, playing games and spending time with family. She has greedily binge-watched some of my favorite shows with me, as interested in Stranger Things or The Umbrella Academy as she might have been with some of her more mainstream choices.
Sometimes I’d like to say my daughter is a mini version of me, a “mini me”, but in truth she is very much uniquely herself. She is a wonderfully blended mix of her Dad’s quiet nature and summer-kissed caramel complexion and my fiery temper and penchant for debate. My daughter is also prone to goofy song and dance numbers, funny photobombs and bursts of manic storytelling. She is obstinate and argumentative, seeming to relish flexing her mental muscles with me most of all. She is unabashedly affectionate. Most nights she clamors up between us in bed, insisting she wants to still fall asleep with us even though she’s almost ten. We wake up to her most mornings with one of her legs cast across our bodies or her arms around us, sleeping contently, as close to us as she can get. She will still randomly take my hand when we are walking, or drape her arm around my waist while we wait in line. She does these things almost unconsciously, undeterred by the strangers and observers around us.
She calls me Mother Bird when with her friends and Mamma when it is just the two of us. She will thank me, sincerely and unsolicited when I do something for her or buy her something she has asked. She will just as readily storm off with an exaggerated stomping of her booted feet when I scold or embarrass her.
Everything in her current wardrobe is black, blue or gray and all of it is devoid of glitter, ruffles or depictions of small woodland creatures. Even the dresses she selects for herself, when forced outside her typical leggings and hoodies, are unadorned and easily paired with cowboy boots and denim jackets by design. She is developing a style all her own and it’s one that I secretly love on her.
There are a few months remaining until her birthday candles number 10. I have enjoyed this 9 year old version of her, even though I have spent most of this year feeling like she was once again moving too quickly for me to keep up. Her steps have been different than those she took as a toddler when her racing, stumbling feet kept her just ahead of my reaching arms, carried forward by momentum and sheer will. Her steps away from me this past year have had the measured, deliberate cadence of a young girl discovering the best parts of herself to explore and expand her world. I am immensely grateful that, no matter how far ahead I feel she is getting, at 9 she still always takes the time to look back and assure I am still there….if and whenever she needs me.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 23rd
Write about writing. What makes you feel inspired to write? What steps do you take to get your words from your head onto the page? What does your editing and rewriting process look like? What have you learned from fellow writers?
I really hate playing catch-up but I've promised myself I will meet every prompt even if I have to catch up from the weekend. It is part of trying to develop some discipline, which as a writer, I sorely need. Writing starts in my head, I write in my head a lot. Sometimes I take notes on my notepad app to remember when I get back to my computer. In most cases though, I just start writing and things flow...to a point. Even my best ideas and prompt responses tend to hit a wall. It is the reason why I've failed to write any novel length fiction. I lack discipline and time to myself.
I write, then I spell check. Then I read through, and make the obvious edits. I tend to avoid extensive re-writes or completely scrapping something. I think there is something of value in anything my muse inspires me to write. For a fictional piece, I will leave it, then go back to it later. I've found that very often, I can get to a happier place with it by editing portions rather than reworking the piece completely. Blog entries have taught me to write and walk away...my first attempt at a prompt is always the most pure and that is what blogging is supposed to be, right? Real and honest insights and emotional responses...at least that's what they mean to me.
I am constantly learning from my fellow writers. Reading their work and following their blogging has been one of the most insightful and useful tools WDC has provided. I get inspired by reading the work of others and feel blessed to be part of that larger community. The biggest thing I have learned from fellow writers is to be fearless and to write at whatever cost. It is in that honesty, you find true connections and its those connections that make us all better observers and thus better writers.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 24th
What numbers hold special meaning for you? Consider dates, times, ages, years, or anything else you can count.
My dates and times would be all the normal milestones I think:
April 18th, 2008 - The day I got married, again - for real - to someone wonderful.
Jan. 15th, 2010 - The day my daughter was born. The best day of my life, hands down, with the day I found out I was expecting a girl, as a distant 2nd.
My 40th birthday...the last one I celebrated with a formal party. The year I felt I had finally reached an age where I didn't have to give two flying f**ks about what anyone thought of me any longer. It was like crossing a magical boundary and on the other side, I was Wonder Woman (a bit chunkier but with great, kick-ass boots). After that, I've celebrated almost all my post-40's birthdays in Provincetown,Cape Cod, vacationing with my family - with my favorite peeps in my favorite place.
Christmas Day Morning...hands down my favorite time of my favorite holiday. Christmas morning was the most magical time of the the year. When I was a child, I'd wake up my siblings and we'd all tiptoe out to peek before raucously waking my parents. As I got older, I came to appreciate the other things about that time. My mother always baked muffins and made breakfast and my grandparents would come over. The morning would pass lazily with this contented buzz about everyone. Christmas morning is even better when it is your own child. I love when she wakes us to go downstairs...even though as she's gotten older some of that childish enthusiasm and excitement has burned off a bit. I can see that she is also growing to love the tradition of my sister coming over to have breakfast with us too. This year, I'm hosting both my siblings and their families, as well as her grandparents for a late morning Christmas brunch. I think my daughter is most looking forward to that and it warms my heart.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 25th
If you could be a fly on the wall of any living person’s life for one day, whose life would you want to observe?
It's Monday of a short week that will end in a holiday where I will eat and drink too much. I chalk that all up to the reason why I am drawing a blank on this prompt. I suppose if I could get one day in anyone's life, I'd like to walk in my daughter's shoes. I think I'd like to see the world as she sees it, with her unique perspective. She and I are very different people, she is more introverted and shy. She is much more reserved than I. I think it would be wonderfully insightful to tag along on her day, watch her interact with her friends and teachers and observe how she is outside the realm of my influence. Is she more outgoing? Does she act silly with her friends like she does when it is just us two? Does she sing along to her tunes louder when no one is listening? Yeah, that would be neat I think and I believe I'd learn a bit more about her. I worry, as many mothers do, that her shyness keeps her from fully enjoying things, that she holds herself back from experiences that would otherwise be fun and enriching. It would give me some peace of mind to know what she is able to let go a bit more than she lets on to me.
This is a "fly on the wall" and not a "Freaky Friday" type exchange though, that is an important distinction. I would never want to be 9 again, not for a day or a minute. That was a difficult age, that "not quite a tween but still no longer a child" blend of awkwardness I remember all too well!
If I could survey her day, presiding over her like a low-flying drone, I think it would be pretty neat.
If not my daughter, then maybe...Trump? I don't think I could imagine a more entertaining 24 hours....watching him, and those around him, react to his own, special, orange-tinted brand of cray-cray. Or maybe it would not be funny...maybe it would leave me feeling devoid of hope for humanity. So...maybe not Trump after all.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 22nd
Write about a missed connection.
I'm sure there are plenty of missed connections in my life but I'm drawing an absolute blank this morning. I keep thinking of it in a literal sense. I keep thinking about someone running through an airport terminal to catch a flight for the final leg of a trip only to find the gate empty and the look of defeat as they watch their plane departing for takeoff. Literally, that kind of missed connection...
That's not what I think the prompt is looking for though. I think the prompt is challenging me to remember a time when I missed connecting with someone, missed an opportunity for an important exchange of some kind. That is what I am struggling with because nothing really comes to mind, even though I think it probably should. And yet I have...nothing. Nada. Zilch.
What else is in my brain this morning that I can share in electronic ink so I don't feel like a total cop-out on this prompt...
I decorated early for Christmas this year. My husband's sister was visiting from overseas and she would be leaving before Thanksgiving, when I typically decorate the house. He thought it would be nice to do it early so she could see it, so we did it all...the tree, the lights, the nativity. Our neighbors likely thought we were nuts and I resisted to urge to go door to door to explain ourselves. My sister-in-law loved it though and as a plus, I don't have to struggle through it with a belly full a turkey and a wine-buzz now. The only drawn back...the Elf on the Shelf is back. The all-too-early appearance is giving me heartburn. I don't know if this is the year she's decided to admit she knows its all a sham or if I am expected again to move that damn red-suited creep all around the house from the 1st to Christmas Eve. I loathe the Elf on the Shelf. I am not one of those super creative moms who have a plethora of clever ideas for the Elf to engage in to the delight of a waking child. As a result, our Elf is predictable and possibly borderline lazy. Our Elf, who I think my daughter named Elsa, in an underachiever.
Last year my daughter came home and regaled us with all the funny things her friend's Elves did while they were sleeping. Her friends woke to find the Elf had baked brownies, played Monopoly with army men, built a zip line across the living room...Who are these parents? I can't tell you how many times I've been sound asleep only to wake up in a bolt of panic because that damn elf is exactly where my daughter left her. There is very limited creativity in my Mom's brain at 2am so inevitably my daughter "finds" Elsa doing something less than remarkable the next morning like sitting stoically in a poinsettia plant or hanging out of an empty Christmas stocking.
Anyway, I have a few more days until Elsa "wakes up" and begins her invasion. For now she sits in her box, waiting...
Maybe I am missing a chance to engage with my daughter's imagination? Maybe I am missing the opportunity to participate in the last remaining vestiges of her childhood wonderment? Maybe. See what I did there? I found a way to bring it home baby...go me.
|30 Day Blogging Challange
PROMPT November 21st
What do you value most in a job/career? What about a job makes it satisfying and fulfilling? If you currently hold your “dream job,” what makes it perfect for you? If you are still seeking your dream job, how will you know when you’ve found it? If you are retired, think back to how you felt when you were working.
Ugh. This is a tough prompt. This is subject matter I try to steer clear from lately as my "career" is a sore subject. Once upon a time I believed I was working toward something, building part of a legacy. Recent events have revealed things, cracks in the ivory tower so to speak, that have led me to question my decisions and my path forward no longer seems as certain.
What I value most in a job or career is the easiest for me to talk about. I want to be challenged in a career that is dynamic and not a tedious slog toward retirement. I want the ability to hone my skills and use them to better the company, really know that I am contributing to the success of the organization. I want to have the opportunity to advance, in pay and in statute based on my successes and job performance.
I didn't think I was still looking for my dream job. Now I am not sure.
I have too many years until I can retire to even think about such things now. I imagine I will be the kind of person who never truly retires though...I've been working since I was legally old enough too. I don't think you can just turn it off. I can't see myself saying, "welp that's it. Guess I'll move to Key West now and eat key lime pies on sticks and sit on the beach until I get really old." Nope. Now, moving to Key West and running a little bed and breakfast in my golden years, that I might be able to make work....
30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 20th
Do you remember your first friend? Under what circumstances did you become friends? Are you still in contact with them or any of your other childhood friends?
It was the first day of kindergarten. We were the only two girls at the bus stop at the end of our rural town road. We eyed each other with interest, each of us too shy to say anything on the twenty-two minute bus ride to Fair Oaks Elementary. It wasn't until we found ourselves making the same puzzle, and ultimately fighting over putting in the last piece, before we actually interacted. The argument erupted, drawing the teacher and sending up both to our corners to "cool off". We glared at each other until the glaring gave way to giggles. Someone in the aftermath of a fight, in the space of ten minutes, we had each found our forever friend.
From kindergarten through 6th grade, S and I were in separable. We lived less than a mile from each other and took full advantage of that proximity. Our lives were filled with sleepovers, and hours lost to the worlds we created in the woods or her basement or in blanket forts in the living room. We fell in love with Duran Duran together and perfected all our best roller skating moves in tandem. I remember this wonderful time of having my own bestie and building all the memories of our childhood side-by-side. I also remember the other things, the times she'd seem afraid or break into heart-wrenching sobs or beg me to stay longer with her or to stay another night at my house. I never knew how to help her, only how to be there for her. Always. We were children, we did not know how to talk of such things back then. It would not be until later that I would learn of her life, of the abuse she suffered from her father and how my home and being with me had been a sanctuary for her in so many ways.
My family moved away after the 6th grade. I remember it didn't feel like an ending for me, she still came over and stayed. She was still a feature at my birthday parties. Life was moving faster though, and by the time high school rolled around, we had other friends and fell out of touch. I learned later that this was when her life at home began changing as well. Her mother left her father and she and S had begun a new life. I went off to college and the chasm widened. We had our memories though, each of us, and we held onto them, treasured who we had been for each other.
By the time I bumped into S in a Blockbuster store, we were both in our early twenties. She tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around, immediately transported back through decades by the same sweet face I had so loved.
We hugged and cried, and the years fell away.
I can't say we picked up where we left off, because we had each been through so many transformations since we met all those years ago. But some people are linked to you by your soul, and S is my soul sister. She has been through unimaginable hardship and has come out on the other side. Over the decades since, I have learned the truth about all she endured and though my heart aches and breaks for her sometimes, I am so proud of the woman, the wife, the mother she is. She has built a life of love and light from darkness and pain. S is the strongest person I have ever known.
S is also the most selfless. She is the first to celebrate my successes and the first to call or text when she knows I am struggling. She is always on my side, unquestionably, and ready to back me up. She finds all the ways to remind me that I am stronger than I think and she is always there if I need her. In turn, I am always ready to listen when she needs me, and when she needs to be reminded about how far she has come and how proud of all her achievements and victories she should be. I am incredibly blessed my soul connected with hers all those years ago.
When I moved two years ago, it was the the next town over from hers. She was the first friend to visit and she rushed through the door, excited to tell me that "she had timed it" and we lived "exactly six minutes" apart. It was the closest we've lived to each other since our days growing up on that country road. We were silly and ecstatic, sending selfies to her Mom from my new kitchen.
We try, despite the demands of our busy lives, to get together once or twice a month to catch up. She has to squeeze time in between the demands of chauffeuring around teenagers and I have to juggle weeknight piano and horse riding lessons. We manage it because it is important to us. Sitting for an hour, sharing dessert and coffee, catching up on our lives is often the very best part of both our week's. Time connecting with your oldest, dearest friend is like a balm on all the rough places in your soul. I am incredibly blessed to have her in my life.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 19th
What characteristics do you admire in a leader? Is there or was there a time in your life when you took on a leadership role? Research different leadership styles and describe which style you would most like to follow. Which style are you? When you are in a leadership position, do you exemplify the qualities you admire in a good leader?
I would love to say I researched leadership styles to fully address this prompt but I'm still wondering how I'm going to fit everything I had to get done into today so my time is too limited I'm afraid. I have twelve minutes before my meeting from hell with the man-babies start so I'm going to do my best with what is already in my head (the quality of what is already in my head is understandably debatable I realize lol)We could use a real leader today...hence the man-babies
The qualities I admire in a leader are thoughtfulness, intelligence, fairness and the willingness to do whatever it takes. I do not admire leaders who deliver directives and then sit back and supervise. I think a leader should empower others first and foremost. They should be appreciative and open to ideas, they should be ambitious and engaged. I have had leaders who were deplorably bad. I have watched them disparage and discourage their employees. I had one boss who was borderline abusive. Luckily, these experiences were few and far between.
I am a type A personality and so, I tend to gravitate toward the opportunity to lead projects or group assignments. I really try to be the kind of leader I respect, one who listens to their team and gives weight to their suggestions. I think good leader recognizes the different skill sets available in any situation and tries to find the way to best utilize those resources to help their team achieve the goal. Sometimes I have to check my natural bossy-ness, sometimes I have to pull back and let someone else take the reins when they have a better angle. That is difficult for me but it is something I work on to be effective in my job. I know when I get it right because we are the most productive. I think knowing how to motivate people, how to engage them and make them feel investing in something is very important.
I hope I am the kind of leader my Dad was when he first started out. I remember watching him with his employees and knowing how much they all respected him. They would have followed him into whatever venture he chose for the company because they trusted him and had faith in his abilities.