Sometimes it is Inevitalbe

I told myself when I started this blog that I would never write about work.  In part, I wanted to make sure that I never posted anything on the Internet that could be misconstrued.  You know, job security.  However, I  am realizing today that it would be absurd to never write about work, Why, you may ask?  Well, this blog is supposed to be about my life and work is a huge part of my life.  I spend 40 hours a week working.  The only other area of my life that I actually devote that much time to is sleeping.  So how could I not occasionally write about work?  That being said, I will never “bitch” about work.  Partly because that would be irresponsible on my part; partly because I have agreed, simply by working for my company, to uphold their image; and party because there is nothing that I could say that you haven’t heard or felt for youself before, so why waste our time?

Okay, so now that the salad is out of the way, let’s get to the meat of this post.  I have “one of those faces”.  Maybe it’s the dimples, who really knows?  What I do know is that I have “one of those faces” that apparently says to the world, “Tell me things!  Tell me very personal things about yourself”. I have always been thankful for this, as it has allowed me to connect with people on a deeper and more personal level.  However, there have been plenty of times when I just want to scream, “Oh dear God!  Please, just stop talking, I don’t want to hear anymore.”  For the most part though, when it comes to my co-workers, I am thankful for this inherent trait.

I share confidences with many of my co-workers.  People come to me to tell me their frustrations, their career goals, seek career advice, and I hope to occasionally hear a different perspective on things.  What I’ve noticed recently is that a lot of people who share their frustrations with me, from my workplace and from other workplaces, is that they all have a common denominator: they are frustrated, not with their job, but with the people that they work for, or with.  At this point it is safe to say that I have listened to hours of these frustrations and, more importantly (to me anyway), I have SHARED hours of these frustrations.  This all amounts to a HUGE amount of negativity being released into the universe, and I no longer want to be responsible for that.  I am not suggesting that we all just stop talking about the things that bother us; sharing our frustrations can be an incredibly healthy thing to do.  What I am suggesting is that we refocus our efforts on keeping our frustrations in perspective and not allowing them to dominate our thoughts, words, and actions.

Here are four simple truths that I’ve learned from my fourteen years in the workforce, as both an employee and a manager:

1.  You will always work for someone who is “incompetent”.  I think it is safe to say that most employees have felt, at some point in time, that they could do the job better than their boss.  From personal experience though I can tell you, when I had my chance to “do it better” it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  I ran a coffee shop and I ran out of coffee, more than once!  “Incompetent.”

2.  You will always work with someone who doesn’t pull their weight.  Whether it is a family owned business, a large corporation, or a non-profit, there will always be someone who skates by doing less than everyone else.

3.  You will always have an employee who is a “complete idiot”.   Maybe they won’t be an idiot all of the time, but they will have moments that will force you to question their ability to pass an IQ test.  When I was 19 I was pleased as punch with my ability to be proactive by getting a commercial refrigerator into the dumpster instead of just leaving it next to the dumpster.  How was I to know that the fridge had to be disposed of differently because of the Freon in it?  My boss had to actually climb IN TO the dumpster and lift it back out! Whoops!  “Complete Idiot.”

4. At the end of the day, you have to find a way to “punch out” and go home.  I work in marketing so I am constantly thinking of ways to “go at things” from a different angle.  What could we tweak to increase sales?  I actually have a notebook next to my bed so I can jot down ideas that I have in the middle of the night.  For the most part though, this is a “positive” way to take my work home with me.  However, if you go home every day and spend the first hour with your spouse, or kids, or roommate bitching about your job, that’s not healthy.  You will always have frustrations, but you also have the ability to choose which frustrations you take home with you and which frustrations you share with other people.

September has a way of forcing me to reevaluate my life and the direction that I am heading.  I find myself asking if I have lived a life of purpose, meaning, and integrity.  I strive to find ways to show that I am worthy and deserving of each breath that God has given me.  I strive to find ways to improve my position in life.  And I strive to find ways to love more, to love deeper, and to love stronger.

So far, with only six days into the month, I have realized that there are only six questions that I need to ask myself at the end of each day:

1. Was I a good Christian?

2. Was I a good daughter?

3. Was I a good sister and Aunt?

4. Was I a good friend?

5.  Was I a good student?

6. Was I a good employee?

My focus, at the end of my day, should be on what I did, where I was successful, where I failed, where I have room for improvement.  I accept the truth that I will always work for, and with, a complete idiot, a lazy bum, and an incompetent fool.  The question at the end of the day is: was I a complete idiot, a lazy bum, or an incompetent fool to someone that I work with, or for?  If the answer is yes, then my focus is on how I can improve so I do not fulfill that roll tomorrow.

So in the coming days if you come to me with your frustrations, don’t be surprised if I interrupt you to ask if YOU’VE been a good employee.  It’s not that I don’t care about your frustrations.  It’s simply that, if I am allowing you to share your frustrations with me, you are obviously someone that I care for and about.  Therefore, I am more concerned with how you can grow as a person than how other people in your life have failed to grow as people.  I would also hope that you would be more concerned with my growth than with my knack for keen observation and ready wit which I utilize in dismantling the job performance of those around me.

I can be a better person, I want to be a better person, and I hope that you will support me in this endeavor.  Because at the end of each day, I only want to be able to answer “YES” to each of my questions.

Advertisements

Thankful For People Who See More Than a Hat

Okay, I feel that it is important to start this post off with a definition.

Goal:  noun. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.

That being said, I didn’t say that I WAS going to write everyday.  I said that my GOAL was to write everyday.  So, yes, I missed two days.  However, I feel like we are focusing on the negative instead of the fact that I nailed it on six days!  Let’s all just accept that and move on, shall we?  Fantastic!

Today, on this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the friends and family who still let me pretend.  As a child in elementary school I was kind of a loner.  I was the baby of the family and never quite felt like I fit in with my siblings and their friends.  So, I would spend hours at a time just playing by myself in one of the many story lines that I created.  I must have lived 100 lives before I ever turned 12.  There was no job that was off-limits, no land that went unexplored, and I was always adored by the man of my dreams.  Indeed, life in my own little world was perfect and I was in complete control.

As I got older though I came out of my shell and by middle school there was no hope of ever stuffing me back in my shell.  I loved being the center of attention and I always had a story to tell if I had a willing audience.  I started to realize though that “playing pretend” wasn’t cool anymore and, worse than that, it was unacceptable.  People wanted me to “grow-up”, “act my age”, “stop daydreaming”.  So I did, around them anyway.  The real truth is that I’ve never stopped playing pretend.  Even now, when I bake cupcakes I am the owner of the finest pastry shop in Paris.  When I cook I am a gourmet chef with my own cooking show.  When I drive to work I am escaping from a madman as I race to the town square to defuse a bomb that is set to explode in twenty minutes.  All of this is my release.

Life is far too serious sometimes.  People get so wrapped up in things that they fail to see the humor in life.  We are focused on things that we think are all “matters of consequence”, but we are wrong.  There are very few situations that we will find ourselves in that are truly a matter of life or death.  Many situations that we stress over aren’t even a matter of having a job or losing a job.

But we are adults!  We are adults and everything we do must be significantly important!  People depend on us, damn it!  People expect us to be in control, in charge, and on top of everything!  We simply have no time for “playing pretend”!  Or do we?  What if “playing pretend” is one of the most important things that we can make time for?  What if “playing pretend” is what would make the rest of it more bearable?  Think about it…. next time your boss is yelling at you just imagine that their head is a giant kitten head and they’re only angry because they want a saucer of milk.  Are they still going to be mad at you when they have a kitten head?  Of course, you messed up, deal with it.  But maybe if they have a kitten head you won’t get so bent out of shape about the situation.  Maybe you will simply fix whatever it is that they want you to fix and move on with you day.  Maybe, maybe not, but you won’t know until you try.

You can go right on being an adult who only sees a hat, but I refuse to.  I promise that I will always see a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant.  And if you can’t understand that, well, you understand even less about me.

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine De. The Little Prince. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1943. Print.

Super Special Sibling Speak

Let’s be honest with each other, shall we?  I grew up as the baby of four kids.  We had our ups and downs but, let it be known that, I wouldn’t change a single thing.  That being said, there were many times growing up when I thought that my siblings were complete assholes.  For example, there was the notorious time when they actually made an entire flowchart explaining that I was adopted and who my potential fathers were.  I think the end result was that I really belonged to the mailman.

My three siblings all have dark hair, dark eyes, and a more olive-toned complexion.  I came out with bleach blond hair, green eyes, and porcelain bordering on transparent skin.  The picture below should illustrate why they said I was adopted.  At one point they even told me that I was actually a Cabbage Patch Kid and that I had Xavier Roberts written on my ass.  Classic!

Image

For the most part, my memories of my childhood with my siblings are broken into two categories: when we were laughing and when we were fighting.  We were experts at polar opposites so when we fought we really fought!  But when we laughed, shit, we could laugh for hours.  I think the laughter actually frustrated my mother more than the fighting.  The fighting was something that she just wanted to end but she never wanted to be a part of.  The laughter was different though.  It wasn’t that we intentionally left my mother out but I feel like so many of the times that we were laughing went without an explanation.  And when we would try to explain, the explanation always fell short of why we really found something so funny.  A perfect example is when my sister L. and I would ride in the back seat of the car together.  One of us would very gently, and very slowly poke the other one in the arm with our pointer finger.  The other one would then respond in kind.  We would go back and forth doing this and, in a matter of minutes, we would be in a fit of giggles.  Mom would always demand to know what we were laughing about but how do you explain something like that?  As an objective adult I don’t see how that was so funny but, even now, it will still make us laugh.

Those little moments are part of the reason why I always feel both sad and lonely for kids who grew up as an only child.  You can have an amazing relationship with your parents, you can meet handfuls of fantastically wonderful friends in your life, but nothing will ever compare to the relationship that you share with a sibling who has shared your entire life with you.  They have a shared perspective on you, your life, and the world as a whole that no one else will ever understand.  I share a language with my siblings that I couldn’t possibly explain to anyone else.

My other sister D. and I grew incredibly close when I moved out to Denver when I was 18.  I swear that she could always sense when I was lonely and homesick and in need of her support and she would reach out to me to offer that support.  My brother A. and I never seemed to need verbal communication to show that we loved and supported each other.  I was his little tomboy sister.  We would rough house, play sports, and talk about the girls that he was interested in.  I still maintain that he is the main reason why some of my closest friends throughout my life have always been guys.  He provided a sense of security, humor, and understanding to me and he never made me feel like I had to explain myself or my feelings.  He just rolled with the punches, both literally and figuratively.  He is also the main reason that I have a tendency to play “Punch for Punch” with gentlemen when I have had a few too many to drink.

Some people have “twin speak” and I maintain that we have “sibling speak”.  We often finish each other’s sentences, trains of thought, or can follow a line of vision to zone in on what the other thinks is so funny.  Friends absolutely hate playing games with us if any of us are on the same team because we always dominate.  A prime example is the game “Catch Phrase”.  In this game the caller is given a word and they have to get the guesser to guess what that word is without saying the word.  When my sibs and I play together the game goes a little like this:

D.:  A dog

L.: Bichon Frise

Correct!!!

L.:  A State

Me: Nebraska

Correct!!!!

We all just exist on the same wave length and there is no place else that I would rather be.  L. utilized “sibling speak” when she called and asked me the following questions this week:

1.  You remember that song?

Answer: Yes, it was the Care Bears “Things Are Getting Better All The Time”.

2.  What were those books that we read as kids?

Answer:  The Serendipity book series.

3.  What was the quote about crying by Andre?

Answer: “She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.”  Brian Andreas

Even when we ask the wrong questions, we are still able to give each other the right answers.

So on this Thankful Thursday I am not simply thankful for my siblings; I am thankful for the kids that I grew up with and the adults that I have become friends with.  We share a bond with each other that will never be matched or duplicated.  Their pain is my pain, their joy is my joy, and my heart beats not just for me, but for each one of them in turn.  So while I may still look a little like the mailman, there is absolutely no doubting that we were all, indeed, cut from the same cloth.

The girls and I:

Image

My brother and I:

Image