This evening I participated in a “Pillow Talk” session at Claflin that was hosted by my ABWA chapter.

I did it mostly because I was asked. As someone who asks for a living, I have a healthy level of empathy for folks who need support from colleagues and near-colleagues to make things happen.

The session was intended to give students a risk-free opportunity to ask questions from women well along in their careers. Nearly everyone wore pajamas. Many brought pillows.

I wasn’t really looking forward to it. My day had started about 5 a.m., and I came to the session directly from the office, wearing 3″ heels, suntan hose, hoop earrings, a print dress and a black cardigan. I did not fit it.

In a nod to flexibility, however, I took off my shoes and plunked my big old self down on a sofa cushion on the floor and jumped into the conversation.

The students wrote their questions on 3″ x 5″ white index cards, folded them in half twice, and threw them into a wire basket.

The evening went quickly. The questions were straightforward and predictable. How do you stay focused? How do you know if you’re on the right career path? How do you begin to prepare for real life while you’re still in college? How do you handle the pressure your parents put on you when you’re having trouble in school but you want to make them proud?

We women had pretty good answers, our answers aligned fairly well with each other, and the students laughed at just the right moments. It was fun.

Then I pulled a question from basket that made me stop. It was sweet and innocent, and I’ve not asked it in way too long.

“How do you know whether someone likes you?

Somehow, over the years, I’ve come to believe that pretty much everyone likes me. Why wouldn’t they? I’m nice. I don’t get in trouble, and I don’t get anyone else in trouble. I like what people give me. I say thank you, and I help whenever I can.

But what would it be like if I reserved a little space in my heart for doubt?

Would I be more observant? Would I check in on folks more often? Would I be a better listener?

Would I be more like Dakota, the rescue-pup we adopted in December? She takes nothing for granted.

A crazy tornado who runs with her mouth open, scares Kitty and sends coffee-table objects flying on a daily basis, Dakota is also the most attentive being in the house.

None of us is left unattended. She cleans Sophie’s teeth, snaps at butterflies, jumps on anyone who enters the house, snuggles up to whoever is napping, shares a meal with whoever is eating, and receives, far and away the most petting, the most treats, the most conversation and the most care.

Everybody loves Dakota. There’s no doubt there.

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