A few weeks ago, we worked with some of the pieces of walnut and oak we have, and we updated our shop. Check out the new pieces on Etsy. Most are one of a kind. Get yours today!
I was “supposed” to be at convention. I was not there. I was home. My sister-in-law was there, and I was supposed to go and be there with her. And, I did not go.
The amount of guilt and concern that I was letting people down, no matter which party I chose, made me cry for three days.
I pieced together the trip, purchasing items as funds allowed. But, the last bit didn’t come through, and I chose not to discuss the full finances with my husband. Because of that choice, he didn’t know what significant amount I had already invested in my business trip. And, I chose not to go. And there was lots of sadness around.
Finally, after a few days, the husband told me he was sad I wasn’t going. I was shocked, as this was not an expected outcome. This was a breakthrough in our communication, where we opened up on some of these desires. We discussed the true cost. And, we set aside a plan for next year, that is budgeting the money as it comes in to forecast for the future.
This was and is an emotional time, for me, for many. And, with all the sadness and guilt over the choices I made, I am ultimately choosing joy for this decision. I am choosing joy for a lot of reasons. Mostly because, though the other emotions are informative and help me take responsibility, guilt doesn’t allow me to see and express love. Guilt gives me comfort in wallowing. Guilt pigeonholes me in a place where I regret and tell the same awful story over and over.
So, I would rather choose joy. I would rather recognize where I could have made different choices, and work really hard to communicate my needs and desires. And, I will work on asking for help.
Help was offered on loan. And part of choosing into joy in deciding not to go was to choose into getting ourselves out of debt. The company is a debt free company, and my husband and I desperately want to live debt-free lives. We want to pay for any future cars and houses in cash. We want my school loans paid off. And, we want any borrowed money from family repaid in full with extra for the burden carried.
Walking into convention with more debt did not feel like a joyful decision. And, that reason plus so many more, I sat at home as my plane took off with a group of women I longed to get to know better. I cried for three days until my husband and I had a breakthrough in communication. And, I worked on breathing into joy. I worked on breathing into love.
“It’s World Rat Day?”
“Rats are cute. Haven’t you ever had a pet rat?”
“Ya, in high school. We bred them, froze the babies, and fed them to the piranhas. Circle of Life”
Interjects another colleague, “Hakuna Matata!”
Self-discovery, a life long process, trying to assess our strengths, our weaknesses, what sets us off, what sets us on fire… all to assess our place in this world, to figure out where we belong, what we should be doing, our best strategies in working with our families, our colleagues, our friends. In 2010-2011, I recall writing more about my observations of others’ reactions towards things. The last two or three years, I’ve been more inward, considering my reactions to things, events – past and present.
So, from past to present – throughout my life, I’ve been prey to quizzes. Starting with the ones that appeared in Seventeen magazine that later morphed into MySpace and Facebook. Now, the self discovery quizzes I take are in the form of reading about the Meyers Briggs (Please Understand Me I and II or learning all about the Enneagram) or they are found under the pretense or assumption of scientific research with downloadable apps, found exclusively on the App Store (or in the Android Market). And, I am victim to their guile in self understanding.
When confronted with the question, “What are you thinking/feeling right now?” I often freeze. My mind could be on a train of thought venturing deep into… and the question is posed and *POOF* the train evaporates as I struggle to come back to the real world. What was I thinking? What am I feeling? It’s as if a hollowness comes over me and I cannot identify what it was. I need to step back, assess, retrace my steps. It’s in those assessments, away from the question that I am often able to get more clarity.
Back to quiz taking. One was created from Steven R Covey’s book Great Work, Great Carer, written in tandem with co-author Jennifer Colosimo. I found it after delving into (still unfinished) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I started reading it during a moment of calm between all the varied things I have been involved in – church, social justice volunteering, food club, and work. This was just before the feeling of staleness and a new rut came over me. This was post Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Strengths-Based Leadership. This was on the continued discovery of self. This discovery of self to lead me to what Po Bronson thinks we should all be doing, finding out What Should I Do with My Life?
I took this Great Career quiz sometime ago, and tonight, for kicks have retaken it. The quiz simply takes you through a variety of tasks that would be found in a variety of careers. Asking things like, “Do you want to be a forest manager?” to “Do you want to organize complex filing systems?” Then, you rate it on a five point scale – tapping in one direction for very much so and the other for not really at all.
Topping the list, consistently, has been the path of “creative”. Prior to this veil of thinking, I have forgotten how important creativity in work is to me. So far out of the every day is my drawing and painting and sketching, that I only focus on the task lists, the organizing, the leading. How could I have forgotten that I love to draw? How could I have forgotten that I love to get dressed up and put make up on, not to showcase some feminine ideal, but because of the creativity involved. I call it “painting my face”. Some of the most enjoyable moments in a work day involve brainstorming or designing. Yet, a decision I made when I was a freshman in college (the first time at MSU) made me focus on the reading/writing side of a career. This cognizant choice to make a perceived safe decision away from the heartbreak if someone didn’t like my design… Is that why I am in any perceived ruts now? Am I in a career stalemate because I failed to acknowledge when I was 20 the need for creativity that I have?
In this blogging adventure, I will be trying to layer in more structure and recurring features. I’ve committed to two: a bi-weekly reading list and a bi-weekly photo blurb. Today’s the day for the reading list.
In my WVDO Executive Leadership Academy, we were paired with another student and a mentor. In my group, we decided to share some interesting news articles for this first round of meeting.
This is what we chose. I’ll work up to annotations. For now, I’m sleepy and doing good to get this posted!
It didn’t start out that way. It started out as a normal I-am-working-but-the-boys-have-are-staying-home kind of day. The boys weren’t sure what they were going to do. A friend was coming over later, and there was talk of the zoo. To ensure proper kiddo-car-travel, I took the bus. So, my rushing this morning, after missing the 7:23 am bus was to scramble to get the 7:36 am bus. My commute was a normal bus commute – three times longer than a quick car ride, but it afforded me the pre-work-snooze.
Then, people were late. Traffic was bad. Apparently, I chose the right day to take the bus.
(One of my goals is to get back into bus riding, as I confided to EcoGrrl last year.)
And, then, the work day began. It seemed sort of normal, until it became apparent that the heavy traffic of the morning, coupled with busy schedules, lent itself to misunderstandings and grumpiness.
For the most part, I believe my coworkers and I are fairly committed to the same cause – improving the environment through volunteer engagement. We love that we work at a non-partisan, non-advocacy group because it allows us to get to the meat of an issue and just take care of place, slowly, quietly, in a servant leadership model, encouraging people to be an agent of change for a sustainable world – starting with their nearby environment.
But, despite our beliefs, we are still human, and we’re still moody, and sometimes we have misunderstandings. Sometimes it seems like I am always trying to re-navigate the paths of communication as what worked for one person doesn’t work with another, or what worked with one person a few times, no longer works as they evolve.
So, what’s the solution? Really, increasing our emotional IQ seems to be the most logical example. We all have bad days. We all have good days. They all pass, but hopefully we can appreciate one another enough that we can work together on the collective thing we signed up to work on.
Recently, I was honored to become involved in a small group of local non-profit leaders. I will, with 8 other classmates, embark on being a better leader over the next 10 months or so. The first month’s sessions involved studying a little about our and the Enneagram.
I’ve been reluctant to write about this, as I have not been able to fully articulate my thoughts into something that seems relevant to write about. But, this process has been eye opening. As one mentor noted in class, while we were discussing the importance of the Enneagram, “Sometimes you just have to get off your point.”
What has been most amazing about studying this view of thinking about personalities, for me, is how much more thorough it is from Meyers Briggs (I’ve since been told that system is more about how we process information rather than how we are), Strengthsfinders, and even the Insights (test, we’ll do the full assessment in a month).
Freakishly, the Enneagram nailed my vices in one succinct sentence. And, amazingly, it’s given me more awareness of others, or at least the energy they are pushing out.
So, when we have a case of the Mondays, my lesson is to get off my point and see where the other is coming from. Perhaps there really isn’t ill-will (I hope not, as a 9 I’m looking for your agenda), and really it was a simple misunderstanding.
I started drying my fork, and then I noticed part of my lunch was clinging, viciously, to the tines. In that moment, I was transported back to when I was a preteen, staying with my uncle and aunt for a month during the summer.
Here, in the present day, the work dishwasher is on the fritz. While we’re waiting for parts to arrive, we now have to wash and put away our own dishes lest the kitchen sanity spiral out of control. A colleague put a few signs up on Monday when they walked into a complete disaster of a kitchen – dishes piled everywhere. We all have important jobs to do, but no one wears the title of janitor or maid, so cleanup really has to happen per your own incidents. I’m reminded of the adage, “Your mother doesn’t work here; clean up after your own mess.”
So, I’m scrubbing away at my semi-curry stained lunch (I made cheesy noodles last night for dinner, loaded with turmeric because the family can’t tell the difference, and I think it’s a fun way to sneak in an anti-inflammatory and whatever other great things turmeric does for you). And, I am transported to this warm summer where I was washing dishes with my aunt’s nephew. I suppose that’d make him my cousin once or twice removed (I’m not sure of the count).
My cousin didn’t clean a dish thoroughly. He left a spot. I was trained to return dirty dishes to the washer so they learned how to was dishes properly. And, as I did this, my aunt interjected. She said, “No, not in this house,” and with a flick of her finger, she knocked off the spot, rinsed the dish, and handed it to me for drying.
I think my aunt was trying to teach me about teamwork. Many hands make light work. We all make mistakes, but if we have the organizational goal in mind, we’ll get there. We’ll be kind, rather than right.
So, today is World Kindness Day. How have you contributed to our greater societal good? How were you kind today?
My husband was kind to me. He poured me a big glass of wine. I read Levi three books at bedtime, and he read me one. He read nearly every single word of 8 Silly Monkeys. I offered our back porch for a friend to store some things while she’s getting ready to move.
So, thank you flick of curry for reminding me that it is better to be kind, than to be right, on this World Kindness Day.
We were asked to bring in an old Halloween photo of ourselves, for our coworkers to guess, but I forgot. Putting away another book, tonight, I grabbed the album I meant to grab all week.
Two things are happening at once: 1) I am already reviewing old files, and 2) now I am reviewing old pictures. Suddenly, a theme of lack of confidence emerges.
Let’s begin with the pictures. What an interesting life for a little girl to lead – navigating domestic instability, loss, grief, horror, eye surgery, and eventually domestic stability. Amidst the domestic stability, this little girl struggled with finding her place. There are forced smiling photos, a photo where others are smiling, and she is crying (not unlike my 6-year-old might). There are photos of genuine happiness. There are photos of athleticism and surprised affectionate attention. A girl, growing up, not sure what to make of it all. Trying, quitting, trying again, two-step backs, one step forward.
One of those tries was tennis. Being a college bound girl, she heard, often, that one must not appear lazy to the admissions people. One must stay involved, and better to be involved with things you like. One must be well-rounded. So, school, before, after, in between were all thins one must try to do. (Ironically, this is one without assessing how much one can handle.) A sport was decided upon, after some training during the summer. This was an individual sport, it was readily understood, and it was one that required practice. That is, this girl found, there were fewer people “gifted” to this sport unlike basketball, volleyball, or softball. You had to try. It was as if the sport was found. The existing coach had a system where the players were graduated from the junior varsity team to the varsity team, not on merit, but on age. She was “pro-seniority” if you will. This methodology served the girl well because it would show improvement on those college admissions applications.
Unfortunately, after her 10th grade year in high school, the beloved tennis coach decided to retire. A new coach was hired with, naturally, different ideas of how to manage the team and the success of the team. This coach was pro-merits. That is, one had to test or compete to be on the varsity team. Well, this girl’s idea of tennis had reached its plateau. She wasn’t getting any better, and she was then relegated, by merit, to the JV team, and not even good enough for singles. Though, she and her partner succeeded well in first placement in doubles.
In this small town fish bowl, their place was near the bottom. During the year, it didn’t matter. They did well with what they had, and they won nearly every match played. They learned to communicate, and were great partners.
But, the girl was loathe to be a JV in her senior year. How embarrassing to be a junior varsity player when in 12th grade. So, she capped her tennis career and opted for stage production in drama, after school sales for newspaper, her church, and a few other things.
She got into college, but the same pattern revealed itself. The awkwardness of finding one’s way. The inability to find a group where she fit. The difficulty in assessing who to trust, what people wanted of her, what she wanted, and how to get what she wanted from others. In this awkwardness, she had to stop, and she took a two-year break from school. During that break, she took on a few jobs. Never being one to be satisfied with the rote role initially given, she used her ability to learn quickly to climb as high as the organization would allow: and eventually, she was assistant manager. But, she couldn’t deal, again, with the bickering, the awkwardness, the inability of herself and others to cope with change – so she quit, again, and returned to the safety of school with renewed appreciation for the academic rigor.
This time, she took an apartment by herself, lest other’s drama infect her need to focus. The learning continued, and continues.
Now, 15 years later, she finds herself admits a new coach, changing requirements and expectations, and she is unsure of how to navigate. Given the various influences, this girl is slow to trust and highly skeptical. She is unclear of the others intent and how they desire to measure success. And, while this other is clamoring to prove her own worth, this girl finds herself having to do the same thing.
And, the awkward disconnect ensues.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was giving me a lesson in boundaries. He said, after expressing how a client wanted him to drop everything and take care of her need, “Lack of planning on your part doesn’t make it an emergency on mine.”
Lack of planning on your part…
… doesn’t make it an emergency on mine.
I wrap the words around my tongue, letting them pass before my eyes through my brain.
Lack of planning on your part….
… doesn’t make it an emergency on mine.
Boundaries, quadrant II, time management, being thoughtful, being considerate. To me, all these things are wrapped up together.
It isn’t considerate to assume that someone leads the same life as you. As such, it isn’t considerate to assume someone can just pencil in a meeting with you because suddenly you’re faced with a grave deadline.
It is shortsighted to overlook someone’s timeline, assuming they can do it all. And it is hard but needed to enforce those boundaries, otherwise your emergency does bleed into others.
I am thinking of a myriad of examples where we fail to live in quadrant II. And, lately, I’ve been speculating the motivations.
I have a revolving task list. That is, for my paid work, the tasks I do repeat, and repeat often. I have to open the mail with a colleague every day. I have to go to the bank and deposit money, every day. I have to work around these things, and the daily tasks are easier. I also have monthly tasks, some are shorter, and some need thought. For the ones that require thought, I often push them to the back burner, using the drop dead deadline as the deadline to reach, not the ideal planful deadline. Why? Because these things take time, and given the structure of my job, it is set up to do quick tasks more efficiently than my preferred thoughtful tasks.
So, my task list stays full of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. And, if someone wants to add something new to my plate, I often decline because of the monthly tasks, looming over, never given time to attend during the day. And, sometimes, I’ve noticed that when I do get them done, I feel lost. I have plenty of other things to do on my task list, but once that super important looming thing is gone – I feel a sense of inexplicable loss. In the moment, rather, it feels inexplicable, but in reflection it feels like loss of importance. Is my worth tied to this one, silly task? It is odd, because if done regularly, and insisted upon to be done quickly, everyone would be happier. I know, logically, that I’d likely be tasked with something more important – so why then do I cling to the status, frustrating, quo?
And, that, is why I think people work in what I dub, “pants-on-fire” mode. We can’t envision a more efficient, happier, more productive future, so we cling to what we know – putting out fires, living in quadrant I and quadrant III.