Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Always....Always, Remember who you are!

When our youngest came to an age where she would go off with other kids (and their families) without us, I always liked to remind her to "remember who you are" as she was leaving.  It wasn't that I was afraid she would forget her name and not find her way home (though maybe there were times when she might have liked to) but as she left our care, I felt it was important that she take with her the values that made her "who she was".  She was not only representing her own character, but her family and her faith.

Even now, I remind myself to "remember who I am" when I find myself confronted with situations that could have moral consequences (for me) whether it is at work, in discussion or in social situations.  That old adage, "you are the company you keep"' has proven true for me over the years as I have walked down assorted paths with all kinds of people.  And choices needed to be made.  Is that really who I was or who I wanted to be?  Everyone has a moral compass that measures differently.

In the past couple of days, I have had conversations with several different friends regarding people's motives/reactions in different circumstances.  This ties back to "remembering who you are".  And who you know other people to be.  The question was raised, "why does BLANK always think people will betray him?"  Not just one person at one time but all the time.  I would say that is because this person's M.O, is betrayal.  Remember, people tend to worry about what they themselves do.  If a person thinks everyone cheats, it is because they are a cheater.  If a person worries that everyone lies, it is because they are less than truthful.  And those of us who expect the best of people, can be very disappointed when we run into one of the above.

Being myself with another
At one point in my career, I was called in for a conversation with a senior executive and he posed this statement in a question form, but we both knew it was less of a question and more of a judgement.  He said something to the effect of "You were hired because of your ability to communicate well with others, avoid conflict, be empathetic, and yet I am hearing things to the contrary.  Are you not who I thought you were?"  Interestingly enough, this same person had told me not two years prior (in an email no less) that if he could choose a boss, he would choose me.  How quickly the tide turns.  I looked at him for a moment and knew that this type of conversation (if sincere) would generally call for an apology, and a re-commitment to do better.  I thought about who I was for just a moment and replied, "No, I am still that same person that you hired.  I am an excellent communicator and work well with all walks of life.  The only thing that has changed recently is who you are listening to".  That was our last conversation.

Obviously, this wasn't the only indicator to me that this person wasn't who I thought him to be. And I didn't know at the time that this was to be our last conversation.  I am so blessed that I was covered in grace in that moment, that I was able to remember who I was..  Not rude, loud or inappropriate (again, that is not who I am) but I was authentically me.  NEVER EVER, let people define you!  No one can ever know you  better than you know yourself.  Yes, we all have faults that can be improved upon... but character is what you bring to the table.

There are so many things I don't understand when I try to figure out why people do the things they do, but this much I know for sure, no matter where I end up, I always win when I remember who I am!!!!!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Put a fork in's done!!

I was sitting in an HR orientation (first one of those I have been to for myself in more years than I care to recall) and I was joined by another new employee.  He was not new to "the system" as I was, but new to this branch of the organization, none the less.  Pleasantries were exchanged and at one point during the course of the morning, when we were discussing a random topic, he indicated his displeasure and shared his reaction by hand gestures.   Not the kind you immediately might think but he did my "done with it" hand gesture.  For those who know me, when I do what I call my "Pontius Pilate move" I slap my hands together quickly three times and then flick my fingers outward the same number of times.  If I do this to completion. this signifies "I am done with you".  You can imagine my delight at meeting someone that understood my unspoken language.

But are we ever really "done" with anyone?   My sister Katy and I were having this discussion tonight.  In our circle of family and friends,we have many personalities to draw the following conclusions.  To protect the innocent, and all the rest (it is getting hard enough to get family members to return calls, for fear they may say something I might want to write about later), I will use categories.

Category one is for those who always "want to be friends" after a relationship has gone south.  This involves much emotion, tears of remorse; laughter over the good times.   When Katy and I were done laughing over the craziness of it all, we decided at best,  this category should be renamed "no restraining order leastfor the first 90 days".  Wanting to remain friends with someone you failed at your first go round at a more significant relationship is like getting a participation ribbon instead of 1st place in competition.  Thanks for showing up.

Category two is dedicated to those who "say they are done" but can't quite seem to say no to one more attempt to wear that shoe that didn't fit the first time.  We call that the "Jimmy Carter era".  A lot of emotion at first, tapering off to not so much because by then the person is back in their life, sometimes short term, other times long term... or until the next break-up, when the merry-go-round starts again.  It just reminds me of when President Carter was in office and threatened action when hostages were being held.  It sounded fierce the first time but after about the fourth or fifth time,  it tended to lose some of its menace, meaning....did someone say emotion?

Category three is what I refer to as "the gold standard".  The relationship has ended (and keep in mind, this is not limited to romantic liaisons), but any relationship that after a seemingly successful launch, has crashed on the shores,splintered into fragments too large, sharp or difficult to pick up and piece back together.  This calls up the no going back "Pontius Pilate hand move" that severs the relationship as you "wash your hands of the entire affair.  You are now DONE WITH IT.  Let me interject right here that this category is NOT for the tenderhearted.   You have now severed this person like a gangrene arm.  Going forward you will refer to them in the past tense because they are no longer in "real time" in your life.  They have become a casualty of relationship war.  This is the only way you will survive.  Emotions must be left at the door (or in the shower) and life goes on as if they were but a passing fancy in this roller coaster we call life.

Category four only deals with those who step outside the law and I am thankful that we have none to draw on for conclusions (that we are aware of).   In fact, I could only report on what my experts on Dateline tell me every Friday night, but I think you should just all tune in.  Lester and Keith tell a great story.

So, this is what I know for sure.  Endings are never as fun as beginnings but just as life must end, so must some relationships.  There are all kinds of reasons behind the final brisk slapping of the hands, but remember, there are two numbers before three (at least for me).

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back in the Game!!

 I have made my husband and daughter breakfast routinely (but not daily) for almost a year.  Yet, today my husband made breakfast for me..  It is not my birthday, our anniversary, or any other "special" day.  We did not recently complete therapy where it was recommended that he "step up his game".   There were no threats or (on the other side of that coin) promises made to ignite such positive behavior.  And I will let you in on another secret....he will be making my breakfast again tomorrow.

How did I get so lucky?  Okay, the secret to what works in our marriage is....WORK!  I went back to work.  Yes, I am BACK IN THE GAME.  The sabbatical is over and as of today, I am gainfully employed and all I can do is SMILE.
Back in the Game!

Today I was assigned an office, a parking spot, and an ID badge so I know where to go tomorrow.  So, that is why my husband fixed (no, fixes) me breakfast.  When we are both working, he fixes me breakfast.  It's a great way to start the day.  Before he leaves, he grabs the lunch I packed for him (the night before) since we both can't afford to eat out!  When it's time for dinner, I would like to report that we both chat in the kitchen about our day,as we throw something together while Madi sets the table.....BUT THAT WOULD BE A BOLD FACED LIE.  Let's just leave dinner out of it since everything was going so well.

So yes, I am back to work.   At home, we once again start to dance to the familiar tunes of simultaneous alarms sounding on three iPhones in the house.  However, this is a new journey, so I am sure we will learn some new songs along the way.  And I am grateful and excited.  

A year ago, I did not know where the road was leading, but I always had confidence (and faith) that I would end up right where I am supposed to be.  I didn't know exactly how, or even exactly when, but some things aren't for us to know.

And here I am.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Starting something at the end

Before a person sits down to write something, whether it be a research paper, a letter (that is almost a thing of the past), maybe just their thoughts, usually one has to gather information, know what it is they will be writing about, and then they will just get busy writing.  It seems a little backwards, starting something that is for all practical purposes, already finished.  But, the work has been done and now it's just a matter of getting it down on paper.  Starting something at the end.

What other things are like that?  I can think of several.  One major lesson that once we really learn, is, for all practical purposes over, is parenting.  By the time we learn how to be the BEST parents, our kids are grown up.  If we are lucky, they are still talking to us and have grown into some type of semi-functioning adult, perhaps even now trying to learn the lessons of parenting as we did.  They may (or may not) be interested in taking any advice from us, since all they know is what they experienced from us.  They either; A) still aren't talking to us; B) still haven't recovered from us; or C) (and I believe this may be the best case scenario) just don't recognize that the knowledge benefit comes at the end of the game.  Therefore, they will put little or no stock into any advice we may feel compelled to impart.  And sometimes, it is SO COMPELLING!

Remember, my mom had five kids in six years.  That means, there could have been a stretch in time when all five of us were VERY unpleasant to live with and be around.  By the time she recognized the knowledge victory (with me) she still had four more kids in short order to live through.  And, I was still too young to appreciate the lesson.

The next generation-it's started!
Fast forward to when I had kids.  Obviously due to circumstances rather than design (I am really just not that smart), I ended up having my three girls, unevenly spaced out over a period of twenty years.  What did that buy me, you ask?  HA!  At least one child at any given moment in time, would like me. When Megan was a teenager, Marissa adored me.  When things got a little tough with Marissa, I might have been in trouble because Megan wasn't quite back to liking me, but HELLO MADISON.  Here we are today.  Madison is a teenager, and guess what?  That's right!  While I believe Madison likes me (most of the time), I now have both Megan and Marissa as back up.  Plus, I had the benefit of three other kids thrown in the mix when Mr. French and I got married and for the most part, I think they have always liked me.  Not to mention a daughter-in-law (Lisa) that is another bonus!

Another observation, because of the time span, I have been a different mother to each of my girls and my three additions (Mike, Tyler and Julie).  Obviously, this is because the early parental knowledge gained has been improved upon with each addition.  And after practice parenting on all these kids, I now feel my advice is golden.  So much in fact, when my sister Katy and I both had babies at the same time and received conflicting advice from our pediatricians, I strongly encouraged her just to do it "my way, so we would know we were doing it right".

I don't suppose there is a right way to be the perfect parent, but this is what I do know:  My mom loved me and my siblings (even while she was learning) and I loved all my kids (throughout all parenting phases).  And I think when it's all said and done, what was started in love has ended up pretty darn good!

Until next time,

your pal,

Look past the water stains

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