Anger by Frederick Buechner


“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is probably the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past,to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the LAST toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many way it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” From Wishful Thinking and Beyond Words.

I love that quote. I am so susceptible to sitting down at the feast of anger and self- righteousness. My 2nd favorite Buechner quote, and it belongs with my 1st: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Dont be afraid”.

Reaffirming and Confirming our Humanity: The 3 Men on the Wall, Plus a Bonus


We escaped on Wednesday night to take a little rest and celebrate how hard we are working on our goals. To play Bingo at a new bar in town! It was intended as playful time to ignore work thoughts. We walked in and there sat 3 previous colleagues, lined up on the wall bar stools, facing the door (almost expectantly?), happily enjoying their beers, laughing. They greeted us with open arms and broad smiles; such a cheerful welcome! I have not seen any of them for over 3 years. I met them over 13 years ago, all senior to me when I started a new job. Jon was on my interview committee, and I was terrified of him for literally years afterwards. I was actually intimidated by all of them for years. Never would I have imagined back in 2007 what lovely energy and heartfelt good cheer we would feel for each other now after we have all gone our separate ways.

Rollin is retired and happily travelling with his wife and spending time with his 2 granddaughters. Scott is whistling and smiling in a different company’s corridors. Jon is out of work and sent me his resume the following morning. I could be in Jon’s shoes next month, asking Scott for a job. We are all just humans, living out our lives with all the illnesses, vacations, job losses, celebrations, and financial upheavals life offers.

Friday morning, I was wound up tightly, thinking of all the hours I had not yet billed to clients (I work for a consulting company- we make money by being useful to clients, and have billing goals to meet each week that determine our income, bonuses, raises, and whether we remain employed). I still had 14 hours to the week’s worth of time to bill before I could truly be “off ” for the weekend. That was weighing heavily on me… I had to fit in a blood draw for my insurance in the morning too. When I arrived at the Safeway Quest Diagnostic Lab, the technician made innocuous small talk and asked what my day would be like. I took a deep breath as the needle plunged and responded that I was stressed about producing 14 more hours to bill clients to please my boss and wasn’t sure how it would fit in with my other non billable responsibilities (I am also a people manager and business developer). He looked at me and said “It’s not worth it to let pressure from the boss in”. I looked him in the face for the 1st time in our 10-minute appointment, eye to eye, and felt like a 10-year old. “Yeah, true”, I think I said. And I believed it. But the conflict inside my muddled brain, oh the conflict!! He responded straight at me, very intently. “Really. It never is worth it”. “Yes, thanks. You are right”. I tried to smile but am not sure it worked. He was right. But he was wrong too.

The day progressed. I had 4 situations come up at work where I needed to respond as a human: I acted as a marketing leader helping a colleague find answers for his proposal. I acted as a mentor and backup to junior staff on her tough client phone call. I reached out to a teaming partner to pursue work together and offered advice and ideas. I also spent time to talk over a controversial teaming arrangement with colleagues. So after 9 hours at my desk, I billed 2 hours to clients, not 14. How will I spend my weekend? Finding 12 more hours to bill between household duties and justifying my existence to the boss? Or will I just stew and worry while I fold laundry, shop for food, and pay bills? Where is that technician to teach me how to prioritize my life’s mission with the expectations of others?

Challenge# 13: Do we and people surrounding us deserve to have our heart-centered minutes today without our fear or shame? Why do we deny them? How can we redefine our roles to allow the life affirming connections? How do we balance the Human with the Producer?

The bottom line is Connection = my Life Blood and tallying numbers for someone else is not a heart connection for me. Cold facts are not fulfilling… more to come on this!

New Boss Part 3: Give It a Rest- Not Taking It Personally


dancing in snow

Still coughing from a cold I caught at a bowling alley in Bloomington, Illinois the night before Thanksgiving… I think it is time for a rest.

It is now so well into the New Year, my planner is a mess and my only resolution (of like, 15) that I remain devoted to is to use just ONE COLOR of pen in it. That is how it goes with crazy lives these days.  We should really only find one thing to improve upon on ourselves. I am going with pen color this month.  Next month I may choose paperclip varieties.

A young colleague was upset today because she had made a mistake in her work that has a (pretty small in the scheme of things) ripple effect.  I told her I had made so many regrettable mistakes in the last 24 hours, I could barely count them.

  1. Rather than get up and work out and meditate to start my day, I laid in bed for an extra 20 minutes and watched an Ellen DeGeneres Youtube video of her making fun of millennials who can’t dial a rotary phone or read a clock face (highly recommended).
  2. I threw a notebook at my BF when he tried playing the devil’s advocate with me. I had just told him I really can’t understand or appreciate my new boss. I probably slammed a door too.
  3. I gave unasked for advice to my adult son about his finances.
  4. I raised my voice a teeny bit with new boss when I realized everything I care about doing in life in my old job description went away with her hiring because she is an engineer who doesn’t care about or even notice emotional intelligence.
  5. I skipped dinner to vent and write this blog post instead of preparing my body in a healthy way for tomorrow.

BUT- tomorrow is another day, and I will try to focus on one tiny thing I can do to improve myself.  My planner will be color coordinated, even if I am less organized than I want to be.  And I will have a sense of humor, too. My boss doesn’t even understand jokes, but I will!

*PS – Thank you to my faithful reader Mark who gave me some great boss tips: Steer clear of her whenever possible; don’t try to outshine her; don’t take any of it personally; be patient, attentive and friendly during meetings; and just do things for her ahead of time so that she doesn’t bug you.  The last one is hard, bc she really asks a lot.  But I am on the road to recovery with lots of humor planned.  Thanks Mark!!

 

New Boss Part 2: My Part


I spent 7 years in Al-anon meetings after a 3-year relationship (2 years married) to a dry alcoholic. The Al-anon program was the best blessing- a gift from him that I will always treasure.   Anyway- Al-anon has a saying that goes something like “Life is uncontrollable, the only thing I can control is my own behavior”.  So I cannot expect my new boss to change to suit my fancy.  I don’t connect with her AT ALL, and in fact avoid quite energetically bc of the headaches she gives me every time we email, talk , or are on a call together.

She drives me crazy with the way every conversation turns in to being about her.  But I need to clean up my side of the street and take care of MY business.  Maybe I am worried deep down that she is going to find my faults, my un-followed through tasks lists, my imperfections (I have many).  Maybe I need to step up my own attention to my priorities; look at the mirror and stop looking at her with the pointed finger. OR- maybe I need to sit and go a little deeper, journal a little bit about what I perceive as my lacking and “not enough-ness” to see why do I not want to be vulnerable with this woman? Why do I feel attacked? Is it valid for me to feel self conscious, or do I need to tell myself that I am enough?!?!?

Challenge#12: When we feel challenged by someone, ask ourselves why.  Do we feel inadequate? Should we feel inadequate? What has led to this lack of confidence? Is it based on truth or fiction? How can we re-write the story to feel the Truth?

woman working girl sitting
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

New Boss: Part 1 Intro (It is Going to Take Me Awhile to Unravel This)


I have a new boss, she started Nov 11.  I am still in mourning about my old boss leaving, so this new one didn’t have much of a chance… Also, I did her job for 4 months before she came on, so her ramp-up time is not getting any slack from me.  She is not a people leader, not a connector, and not warm either.

Are you getting the picture? I don’t have a lot of warm fuzzies myself for her or the way she is (not) leading our team.  But I am clear- I don’t want her job. It is thankless, filled with pressure, and requires a lot of hours.  I am not having fun, not feeling fulfilled, not enjoying time off, not feeling appreciated*, and generally scouring Indeed.com for a new gig.

I need to bite my tongue every interaction because we are just not a good match.  She is vague and confrontational.  I like clarity and give affirmations.  I thrive on connections, and she doesn’t care about connecting to people.  She was present for my yearly performance review last week, and talked more about herself and her plans than me and my strengths or weaknesses.

*Appreciation and acknowledgement are important to me.  I like being on a Team, feeling like I am contributing, connecting and sharing energy… She is on the other side of the coin- she likes to look important herself, enjoys her status, is more about confrontation than connection.  I end up with a bad mood every time we have a meeting together.

It occurred to me that she probably has not led a team before this.  I know she has some skills I don’t, and they count for a lot.  Big breath here- I can probably learn from her (eye roll).

Challenge #11: What if we consider people we don’t like or appreciate as newbies to their role and give them time and patience to sort out themselves (more than 6 weeks)? What if I send her good wishes and good vibes, maybe even a prayer? 

Ugh, these are big asks.  I am sharing them with you because I need to hold myself accountable.  I really really want to revert to my 8-year old brain and run away; or my 15-year old and tell her to go to Hell; or my self-indignant 24-year old and feel all righteous and go behind her back to her boss.  This growing up stuff is hard for a 54-year old!  This getting over my personal BS and not taking her personally, allowing her to have her own style and strangeness is HARD. Why oh why is this growth opportunity here now!?!?

*Advice, comments, admonitions, jokes, commiseration is all welcome.  Please provide below in comments.  I need to grow up!screenshot_20190227-063330_positive-quotes

 

 

“It wouldn’t be special if we saw each other more often”? Ugh.


It is after midnight. Christmas is over. Vacation ends tomorrow. Back to the salt mines for me. Back to collegendary for them. Precious time with my young adult children is coming to a close. Wow, I will miss them so much! It is so hard to have the important lovely conversations about relationships, future planning, financial stability, life, God, anxiety, on text and rushed phone calls… My 23-year old son is not a sharer unless we are in person. He lives 9 hours away, so I only see him about every 5 months. It is agony to say goodbye knowing I am heading into darkness again.

How do we let them go? So hard. I know, count my blessings… still tough though!

If you meet 2 jerks in one day…


There is a hilarious phrase commonly used as a warning in Alanon meetings. I love it because it applies to me. “If you meet 2 assholes in one day, you are usually the 3rd”.

It is a good reminder that when I am meeting with negativity and frustration, it is likely to be more about what I am bringing to the table.

We all have to remind ourselves to bring the manners, compassion and hospitality every day, not just “for company”. I have to remind myself to consider “Being a Blessing” rather than gold digging for what is in it for me in my interactions.

Just this morning, I was in a cardio class at my gym. It was early, 6:15 or so. I scanned the crowd when I walked in and thought I saw a woman I usually see in my weights class. And I secretly compete against her. I watch her weight bar, check her form, and basically just make sure I am stronger than her at every point in the class. I appease my vanity. I spent the next 40 minutes slamming myself around in the cardio class, making sure I looked “more” than her cardiovascularly. I watched that woman and compared myself all around. I was not friendly with anyone else in class either. I was too busy!!

Then I guess I woke up, because I noticed she wasnt the woman I thought she was. I was being an asshole, to me! I laughed out loud at what a jerk I can be.

Challenge: Find something about ourselves to laugh at today and have a really good chuckle at our expense.

We Deserve a Love Letter… You Got This!


‘Tis the season to feel under appreciated. It is the week before Christmas… We spent a %^&* ton of money on/holiday travel/food/activities/gifts. Our bosses are still expecting us to produce and work (and did yours also assign you work for next week like mine did?). We found our our “bonus” is really just a love tap. The holiday parties are mainly a pain in the neck. Family is edgy. And is that a tickle in my throat I am starting to feel?!?! The extent of my holiday baking is finding the sprinkles so far.

There is more to tell me, I know. But the train has left the station already flying towards the cliff of breakdown, headed to fall- apart-and- tell-the -wrong -person-off-Town. It is a short distance from Feel-like-shit-Town.

Let’s take a big U-turn from doom and gloom fake it ’till you cant take it.

  • Did you hold your tongue today when you lost patience? Great job!
  • Did you hold back on gift-buying even a tiny bit more than last year? Excellent!
  • Did you give yourself 3 minutes to meditate or exercise today for your self? Awesome!
  • Did you hug someone who needed it today? You made a difference!
  • Did you look someone in the eye and appreciate them verbally today? Good on ya!

Challenge:

This season expects way too much of us; it is impossible to meet expectations. So take 3 minutes right now as you walk or drive to your next appointment. Pull out a pen and make a list of everything you have done this season that is keeping you on your path of encouraging the loving wise centered person you know you are. Take a breath and take stock. We deserve this!! The timing is perfect. Sprinkle some good cheer on US.

Keep the train on the tracks.

We aren’t perfect. We are humanly imperfect. We got this!!!

Secrets


Frederick Buechner says we are our secrets. I am my secrets, and I tell them to you as I roll them around my brain on the way thru my pen and paper, to the keyboard, to the screen, and finally push “send”. Like a scrolling golden spiral, reaching out to you.

Buechner says “It is vastly more interesting than to pretend that I have no such secrets to tell.

We tell our secrets to others for many reasons- to be interesting to others, to be vulnerable with a person we want to be friends with, to help others not feel alone with their secrets, to try them out loud to see how it sounds, and also to shine light on them so that their towering strength over us can shrivel.

We do need to choose our receptors wisely, but being secretive is an illusory life, a bit Victorian. Perhaps even constipative?

Challenge#6: What secret binds you up, keeps you from growing where your higher self wants you to go? Can we begin by writing the secret on paper, and graduate to sharing it?

My Caffeine Regimen


I have an actual caffeine regimen which you would think is akin to a workout regimen, or a course of therapy.

Rules:

  1. No coffee ever because it makes me cry and 24 hours later I am exhausted.
  2. Make a delicious chai tea 1st thing every morning (with tea bag, not sugary syrup which just adds to my butt) with good creamer to get me going in the morning.
  3. Only if it is later in the week, and I am dragging, do I get a 2nd cup of chai with the yummy coconut non-dairy creamer at work.
  4. Green tea only after noon. No black tea after 12 pm. It keeps me awake.
  5. On Thursdays, I get to drink a Diet Coke. I love Diet Coke Thursdays. That is the only day of the week I drink soda, and only one. If I forget, I have to wait another week; it is too unhealthy.
  6. Only 1 store bought chai per week because that sugar is just not good for my thighs.

You would think I am planning a war effort, battling a gambling addiction, or planning to save the orphans the way I regulate my intake. It is super important I keep these rules, only a couple of exceptions:

  1. Of course, if I am running long or a long race, I get a cup of coffee first.
  2. I need an Arnold Palmer (or 2) at work lunches so I can be energetic, excited and enthusiastic even when bored to death. So that black tea doesn’t count.
  3. On Fridays if I am especially tired, I get a soda with lunch: full sugar, Dr. Pepper usually.
  4. Oh, and if I am travelling, I buy a chai every day.
  5. Sundays I drink 2 cups of chai because I… I don’t know, because sometimes I feel like it.

Definitely an addiction.

Challenge #3: See humor in the way we try so hard to control our lives, only to be taken down by a soda pop :).