No Longer a Victim

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Improvements

I will admit it. I have been a yeller. I bottle up my anger without even realizing it and when I reach the boiling point, it all topples over and out, like a volcano. I have yelled when I feel like I am not being heard, as if increasing the volume will make the words more clear somehow, better understood. I have yelled when the words were instructions, given, accepted, understood and then ignored. I have yelled when I felt taken advantage of or neglected or less than or or or… I have been a yeller.

It is one of my least favorite traits about myself. It is also one of the ones I have worked hardest to understand and change.

And I have. For the most part. And I didn’t even really notice …. until one morning earlier this year.

Quick debrief of that morning, not because I need to share, but because in hindsight, it is actually pretty funny:

The day after a long holiday weekend, the Kid decided to sleep in a little. Due to the holiday, we had also neglected our practice of preparing for the week ahead: aka – set out the clothes the night before.

The Kid comes down, late remember? And proceeds to tell me that he has no clean pants in his drawer. Which is really interesting because I finished what I thought was all of the laundry just the night before. So where were all the jeans? In a heap in the corner of the room. NOT (wait for it) in the laundry basket. And of course, I didn’t ask him to bring down the heap for washing, only the basket (duh, mom!)

I did what any ‘Mother of the Year” award front runner would do… I sent him to pick through the pile, find the cleanest pair, and wear them. Oh, and of course, bring down the heap for washing.

The Kid retrieves the cleanest pair of jeans from heap and brings the heap down. I have the washing machine all ready to receive said heap of dirty clothes

Th Kid sits for french toast breakfast (oh, there…. your wheels started turning, you just realized where this is going)

Yep, we’re going there, Kid flips syrup. All over table. chair. floor, shirt, and jeans. Maybe a little on one of the white dogs, but I can’t deal with that much reality.

Me? I’m standing at the counter working on something on the computer. Look down as I open my mouth to yell at the kid, I see the title of the article that just pulled up … an article about yelling … at kids. (That is what I call The Big Universe or TBU.)

 

yeler

 

Pause. Breath (deep, lung filling)

Calmly, quietly, I dig another pair of jeans out of the heap (which fortunately had not yet made it into the washer), kiss The Kid on forehead, send him for a new shirt and begin the arduous process of cleaning syrup from the kitchen…. and dogs….

Yelling? No yelling. A year earlier my day would have been trashed. So would his. There would have been tears (more mine than his) and hurt feelings. Worse.

But that morning there was a smile. A kiss. And a confirmation that I know it was an accident. Accidents happen.

I didn’t tell him that had the bus not been coming up the street at that precise moment, he would indeed be the one cleaning this up. But that’s okay, he will get his turn someday in less years than I like to realize and when he tells me about it, I will smile and tell him I still love him.

And we get the lesson learned, one of many that I’m sure will come to me … by golly, the clothes get laid out the night before.

And I, am one step closer to overcoming a nasty and unnecessary habit. Before I can teach him to have the same habit with his children.

Regret

timeFlies (regret lyl)

Bear with me, I am about to go on a rant…. I was asked recently what makes me angry about the world. I can sum that up in one word: Regret. No one should reach the end of their journey and experience regret.

When we hear people talk about regret, it often involves family, children, spouses. As in “I regret not spending more time with … “ And we all know about this regret, we are aware it is coming – if we let it. So what is it that we allow to interfere with that time? In my experience, that interference comes most often from one of two places, the first of those two being our job and the second being the stuff we acquire with the money from our job.

I am not at all implying that we all rush out and quit our jobs tomorrow or get rid of all of our things. I am asking you to look at how many hours per week you spend on each of these.

How many hours did you commit to when you accepted that job? (Did you even discuss it?) And how many are you actually working? For too many people I know, that first number is “40” but the second number is closer to “80.” Eighty hours…. double the agreement when the job was accepted. (*If you are not discussing it with your management or in an interview, you should be.) Leaving all of our ‘free time’ for the maintenance of the stuff. Thereby creating the regret of not spending time with the people we love.

Why? And more importantly, who controls this? We each do.

Whenever I ask people that question: “Why?” I get a myriad of answers and excuses, but what I sense is behind all of that is fear. Fear of losing that job and not being able to get a new one. Fear of not being able to afford the ‘stuff.’

I understand.

I am a single mother with one income, a large house that I love and a child to care for. I have that fear, too. But I am not working for someone else at 11:00 pm. There is no purpose in life if I am spending all my time for someone else’s dream. I have dreams of my own. (One of those dreams is less stuff and a downsized home, but that’s a different rant).

You know what I’ve learned? The person emailing me at 11:00 pm does not want me to reply. Not tonight. They want to go to sleep. But if I respond, they need to read it and we have to dialogue. All while we are both falling asleep. Don’t do it.

Let me tell you something else I have learned.

We – each of us – teach other people how to treat us.

As I write this, I am at the end of a week long vacation. Nine days away from my desk, if you count the weekends too. I have saved for and planned for this vacation for nine months. I did not take my work with me. I didn’t even take my own business that I am building. I took a real, actual vacation. I focused on the present, enjoyed the company of my travel companion, cultivated our relationship, enjoyed time with family and actively participated in the exploration of a new environment.

That’s what it is about. That is the reason I have that job. To have time and funds to do exactly what I did – travel, enjoy my family, enjoy my life.

Before I went on vacation, I made sure that the people who interact with me knew well in advance that I was going to be out. Make sure you are extending this courtesy to the people with whom you work. I have often received an out of office from someone with whom I was working closely on a piece of a project, yet I had no idea they were going to be out of the office. I don’t want to bother them on vacation or wherever they are, but they have the files I need. I can’t do my job because they didn’t extend me a little respect. If you are one of these people, see the earlier comment about teaching people how to treat you. You are forcing people to contact you while you are out because you haven’t allowed them the opportunity to prepare for your absence.

Are you the only one that knows how to do your job? This isn’t job security, I assure you. I have seen many people get downsized or let go. The hole left gets filled in, and often with inaccurate information or processes. You want job security? Teach others how to do what you do. It gives you the added bonus that when you have a sudden illness or want a day off, they don’t need to call you.

Are you wearing multiple hats at work? I often hear about that task or role picked up ‘temporarily’ because someone else left. But rather than replace the person who left, the company leaves the task on the other employee’s desk.

Possibly you don’t mind, for now, because you are learning a new skill or getting quality time with the appropriate people to help move your career forward. All too often, though, this is not the case.

If you are doing the work of multiple people, and your company is letting you, how much money are they saving by not hiring those other people? It doesn’t even matter what they pay you. Even if you are genuinely making the salary of all those people put together, they are still saving taxes, unemployment benefits, health benefits if offered, whatever other types of ‘perks’ they offer.

But what’s the cost to you?

I have known people to lose their spouses, their children, their health. Is what you are doing and how you are doing it worth that? I can’t decide for you, you have to decide. But at least think about it. Sometimes, there are perks to temporarily working this schedule.

This is truly one of the things I am most angry about in the world. That we have allowed ourselves to become terrified that we will lose our jobs if we create appropriate boundaries, demand respect from our employer and from ourselves, and do the jobs we agreed to do when we accepted the position at the company. That we have become afraid to renegotiate as the situation changes. That we have come to value the stuff we buy with the money from those jobs more than we value the people in our lives.

Working the long hours should be the exception – when there’s a new product to deliver, a project nearing completion, a new something ready. It should not be the norm. Create the boundaries for yourself and others that allow you to work to live, not the other way around.

No one, ever, reached the end of their journey and wished for more time at the office. What makes me angry in the world? Regret. Unnecessary regret.

Start-A-Blog Challenge ~ Intro

As you may have noticed, I have fallen out of the habit of writing and updating this blog. Some people might take the opportunity to shut this one down and start all over again, fresh. I don’t want to do that. I love this little site and the small community it has. Many of you interact with me in Facebook or Twitter and I really enjoy that.

So, instead, I joined the free Start-A-Blog Challenge with Scott Dinsmore from Live Your Legend. This challenge comes with a free 7-day course to help build a successful writing habit. If you are also a writer, and want to join as well, you can access the free course and join the challenge here: http://liveyourlegend.net/start-a-blog-challenge-2015/. The challenge also provides access to a private community of over 1,200 writers who have the ability to connect, hold each other accountable, share their work and help one another create their own unique form of art.

I was on vacation when the challenge began. The next few posts will be a combination of the day’s writing assignment and the “catch up” pieces. I will apologize in advance for the sudden bombardment of writing after such a long silence. The goal is to get back into the writing habit. With three blogs to write for and a book I am working on, it is certainly a muscle that needs building. I am looking forward to the ‘workouts.’

And…. without further adieu ~ on to the homework….

Balance

go with the flow

 

I feel like the world is rushing by at a million miles per hour. I can’t focus on any one thing, no matter how important, I am not accomplishing anything. I am distracted by the next brightest, most shiny task. I am not eating the right foods or getting any exercise both of which amplify the other feelings.

This busyness feels like an illness though it isn’t treatable by medicine. Sometimes, my head swims, my heart races and my skin gets flushed.

Do you ever feel like this? I am sure you do. Everyone I know has these feelings periodically.

For me, when this happens, I am usually spending too much time focused on one area of my life. This could be a fun area like family and friends, or it can be a duty area like my job or volunteer obligations. Regardless of area, the solution for me is the same – I need to step back, reorganize assess priorities and often reinstate my boundaries. Even with myself.

In the past, I have called this ‘being out of balance’ because life is often compared to a big wheel. And when we get out of balance, the wheel starts to thump and bump and possibly even through us out of our seat. But, if we are always striving for balance, we are depriving ourselves of experiences. Balance, I am finding, isn’t possible.

Balance is defined by Webster’s dictionary as: “A state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.” This, this version of balance can absolutely happen. Proper amounts.

However, the Wordnik.com definition of balance is more along the lines of how we have been taught to think of balance: “A state of equilibrium or parity characterized by cancellation of all forces by equal opposing forces.”

Equal opposing forces.

This is the kind of balance that is not possible. There will always be an area or two that require more attention than another. One are pulling us more tautly than the others. Maybe that is building a business or finding a new job. Possibly we are working on improving our finances or learning to change our eating and exercise habits. For many parents of school age children, getting the children out of summer mode and ready for school will be a focus during August and September.

The Webster’s version, focusing on the word proper rather than equal, is much closer to what we should be striving for. Keeping our activities in proper amounts with the proper amount of importance. Keep the rider in the cart even though the ride may be bumpy. Allowing ourselves the grace to shift priorities and schedules and life shifts. The world is fluid. We need to learn to go with the flow.

Purge Update

Open Scene …. woman runs across stage to the sound of background music playing “Purgin’ Purgin’ Purgin” set to the tune of “Rollin’” by Limp Bizkit, fist pumping and yelling “Woot, Woot, Woot” ala Arseno Hall…. Too goofy? That’s okay. … Continue reading

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