Category Archives: Humor
Being an entrepreneur in the business of consulting engineering has always been an incredible journey for me. The freedom to choose a particular path, the creative energy devoted to developing a great team, the excitement of watching exceptional people rise to the occasion. These are the aspects of the business that have always held the highest appeal for me. However, there is a side to the business that is a slippery slope for me and I find myself disenchanted each time I encounter it, I call it the “hobnob façade”. We’ve all seen it and to be honest I have participated in it in the past, and each time I experienced a very unsatisfactory feeling afterward. So what is the hobnob façade? It goes something like this:
“So how is business going?” Says Dean Goldberry, CEO of Initech Corp.
“Fantastic, we are blazing new trails, can’t seem to count the money fast enough it’s pouring in so quickly.” Says Earl Lee Riser, President of Dunder Mifflin, Corp.
“We are too, this level of success was really inconceivable to me,” Dean adds enthusiastically.
Earl responds, “we should get together and see how we can join forces and conquer the world of paper and data.”
“Absolutely, I will get in touch with you in the next couple of weeks and we will formulate a plan to seal our deal,” Dean says.
“Well….(as Earl awkwardly fumbles with his phone) I need to get going my wife just text me and our dog desperately needs a flea bath I am the only one who can do it. Let’s get together over a grande sugar-free vanilla latte soon, I’ll call you.” Earl declares as he hastily power walks to the door.
This is a dramatization of real events, the names were changed to malign the guilty, no lattes were actually harmed in the making of this dialog.
All silliness aside, this is a very real, albeit heavily embellished, side of the business that is not consistent with my way of being in this world. I feel the most powerful, the most in sync in this world when I am being honest, kind, patient and brave. I also like to have fun, so I will go along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and add silly to that list. I try to measure my words and actions by those benchmarks. It’s so interesting as I have become more successful in the realization of my intent, life simplifies and my relationships have transformed. I find myself attracting like-minded souls. The hobnob façade, which used to repulse me, has become a practice of observation and presence. The presence to know I am up to something else, and the compassion to recognize others are on their own journey which has nothing to do with what I am up to. In other words I’m OK and they are OK.
I notice, particularly on social media, this overwhelming need by many to engage in the repulsion of others, I get it, I have done the same in business. I invite us all to consider a new thought, a new way of looking at it, and recognize what bothers you, be present to it and make your choices from there. These moments of repulsion are not an invitation to lay down and roll in that same mud puddle, they are an invitation to be present, to recognize where you are being pulled or repelled from and make a choice from that place. Always, always, always go back to intent and harmonize your thoughts AND your actions, your intention AND your words. Peace out.
“Great intentions become tragic actions when delivered without careful thought” ~ Michael Dooley The author of, Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams.
- My friends were perfect – As the saying goes we choose our friends, not our family. So the pressure is really on here to get it right. Trust me imperfection among your friends is a hell of lot more fun and enriching. I love mixing my groups of friends the more conventional gals with the avant-garde. It’s great to see the affect they have on each other. If I want someone who thinks and acts just like me I’ll go in the bathroom and talk to the mirror.
- My kids were perfect – Ugh!!! Kids need to be able to fail, yes I said it, they do. We need to teach our kids to do the best they can, period. Sometimes there will be trophies and sometimes there will be disappointment but the goal is to learn discipline. Most wildly successful people are like the legendary Phoenix climbing out of the ashes of their failures to start again. In our house laughing at your imperfections is not only encouraged, its mandatory!
- My body was perfect – Your body is a mass of tissue, fat, bones and muscles, its function is to protect your vital organs. Feed it well and if you are blessed and can, exercise it, to keep it HEALTHY. Your body is not a measure of your worthiness as a human being, your body is unique like your personality. We live in an amazingly diverse society our bodies should reflect that, not some airbrushed version spoon fed to us on the pages of a magazine.
- My partner was perfect – This myopic view is missing half the of the story, it’s more about the partnership than a partner. When my hubby is really falling short on the perfection meter, I engage in a practice I call “fact-finding.” You know, pointing out his imperfections to support my judgement to help him, of course. Sure enough when I am looking for warts they are everywhere! When I told my life coach my husband was not taking step to improve himself at all, after all this helpful feedback I’ve given. She asked me to try another approach, only comment on things my hubby did that I appreciated or liked, for one week. Anything I disliked or disapproved of I needed to let go. I was suspicious of this approach and my husband was totally confused, but I have to say it worked. I saw more of the things I like and appreciated because that is what I was looking for!
- My job was perfect – It would be great if we all had perfect jobs, our dream job, whatever that means! Some jobs just suck, if you’ve seen the TV show Dirty Jobs you know what I am talking about. In a book called Fish! they talk about four principles that can energize your work environment: 1) Choose your attitude. 2) Find ways to play. 3) Be present. 4) Make their day. Your job may not be perfect but take responsibility for your experience there, focus on what you have control over. Change your perspective and change your life!
A friend asked me to watch her kids while she was out-of-town and I was thrilled, it felt so good to provide that help that after my shift was up, my ego decided I should call her to highlight my greatness in carrying out this neighborly good deed. However, I did not completely follow her prescribed instructions on the commission of this kindly act. In my mind the end result was achieved, so the response I got…….well let’s just say I was bucked off my high horse. Read the rest of this entry
I consider myself a pretty easy-going person, I really strive to experience my journey and allow others to experience theirs, without judgment, at least I try, ok. Quite frankly as far as preoccupations go, our society has an overabundance of judgers (notice how I am judging the judgers, wonderful isn’t it!!!) So I try to not fill an already overcrowded field. However, today I am wading in up to my eyeballs, and I am owning up to the fact that this post is a complete and mindful departure from how I intend to be in this world. Today I am a big judger. Whew, that long-winded justification certainly makes me feel better how about you??
So buckle your seatbelts here I go. First, I am appalled that we recently had a chemical spill that fouled the drinking water for approximately 300,000 people in West Virginia. That is similar to saying all of St. Louis or Pittsburg were suddenly without water. Further, at the risk of assuming too much, I believe, had it happened in St. Louis or Pittsburg there would be a public outcry along with the kind of political pomp and circumstance we expect when people are suffering, which would have kept this incident front and center. Instead what actually happened when 16% of the state of West Virginia, one of the poorest states in our country, was told not to use their water except to flush their toilets, well, not much really. It did not even warrant the front page of my hometown newspaper or the leading story on our news that night. Huh!?!?! I can’t even begin to understand the hardships people faced and are still facing in West Virginia. These poor people were blithely consuming this contaminated water, no one is certain for how long, before it was detected. Shortly, after the spill the water was declared safe to drink for everyone except pregnant women and then that was rescinded as premature.
I am not even sure where to begin, you see, first we are dealing with a chemical that was never intended to be in drinking water. No one really knows what we are dealing with. I sit in amazement as people are angry with the water company, really?!?!?!? What about the rules, regulations, lack thereof or disregard for, that was perpetrated by anyone along the chain of custody of that chemical?
Folks I am not sure how to properly express this but this is a big damn deal. If you think this could only happen in West Virginia think again the indifference toward West Virginia will bring this injustice to your local hometown very soon.
When I first heard of the spill, it was the next morning after, so I grabbed every newspaper on the counter at the hotel I was at to find out what the heck happened. I expected to see it on the front page, when in fact only one newspaper had an article about the spill, it was one of those small rectangular articles on the third page of the paper filling a gap next to the continuation of a front page article. I don’t even remember the front page article from that day. I do remember I was absolutely incredulous that it was not front page news. I mean Miley Cyrus twerking made front page news, Gov. Christie’s bridgegate scandal made front page news and now Justin Bieber’s latest episode in his ongoing acting out saga is splashed across the front page of the newspaper. These are life changing issues right??!!!?!?!
I found myself thinking it’s too bad it wasn’t a terrorist’s intentional act that contaminated the water, because that would be really sexy and newsworthy and then people would acknowledge the seriousness of this unbelievably tragic situation. The minute that thought ran across my consciousness I internally chastised myself, that’s a terrible thing to think! Really though, what difference does it make if it were some misguided person following a particular fanaticism, hell-bent on hurting others or if it is a careless or clueless business owner? The end result is the same, so why would we rally and become impassioned if it is perpetrated by one and not the other? We actually have more power to change the effect of the latter, so where is our outrage, why the indifference?
There has been such a lack of passionate response about this incident that I find myself wondering, did I unknowingly slip down a rabbit hole and find myself in an alternate reality? As I am typing this I am trying very carefully to keep from typing the obscenities that are bubbling up my throat like bile needing to be expelled to give me relief. I am thinking of all the people, kids, hospitals, schools, and businesses affected and still affected by this spill. Ugh, breathe.
Each time I see that mug shot of Justin Bieber on the TV I find my face getting flush, I see that pompous smile on his face (at least that is what I make it mean) and I feel a mixture of shame, anger and frustration. I feel like answering the call from Howard Beale the fictional news anchor from the movie Network, when he said and I quote “I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” People we need to wake up, we need to decide what is important for us, for our existence, for our kids, for our community. We have too many misguided people deciding what is important for us to know. Twerking, while funny and intriguing, is not important, political folly while filling our need to feel self-righteous, is not making the world safe or more peaceful, scrutinizing a teen-aged train wreck, does not meet our most basic needs.
I mean seriously our water, mother earth provides us precious water which is absolutely necessary for our survival and we foul that precious resource without so much as a whimper. Someone twerking in front of us or our kids, while awkward and unseemly, is not newsworthy. Getting caught in a traffic jam at a bridge crossing, while contrived and inconvenient, is not a tragedy. A young man making bad choices, while a misuse of talent and energy, does not threaten our way of life. But fouling our drinking water does threaten our very existence. Terrorists frighten me, their ability to destroy life while seemingly detached from the result, frightens the hell out of me. AND I am more frightened by the lack of impassioned response to this incident in West Virginia.
I hope that my fears will be unfounded, when I discover that I simply slipped down a rabbit hole. That the parallel universe I am in, with its complacent and submissive response, is merely an illusion. I hope I emerge from my confines to find out there was indeed outrage, there was concern at the highest levels. That instead of knee-jerk reactions and short-term candy coated fixes, there is deep consideration and thought about what we need to do to make sure that this kind of ridiculous carelessness does not happen again. That in fact our clean water is protected. You will have to excuse me now I have to keep looking for that DRINK ME potion so I can get back to reality!!!!!
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel
Of all the titles I have in this life the one that gives me the most joy, the most bewilderment and definitely the most consternation is my “mom” role. I blithely dance through life while wearing my other monikers; engineer, sister, friend, wife, and cousin. I mean there are bumps in every road, but in a macro sense I do not find myself shouldering the burden of every decision I make, as much as I do in my parenting role. Questioning not only my choices but my wisdom in making those choices. And by wisdom I mean, do I even have all the necessary marbles in my brain to make this decision? I am not talking about a narcissistic preoccupation centered on how I will look based on this decision, I am talking about a real sense of what the hell am I doing? I mean seriously IS there an app for this?
I love math, so what, you’re probably saying, well bear with me I’ll explain. I view life through a math-tinted lens, when I think about the advice, guidance, criticism, praise and support I give my children I see it this way. My kids are on their own unique journey with or without me it is their and only theirs, I do not posses it, and I believe I do not have a right to claim it as my own. However, like a vector in math I know the slightest, even most minute, change in angle on a vector will have greater and greater effects as the magnitude or length of the vector grows. So the little things that I do with my children, say to my children, advise my children about, acts as an external variable on their path. I believe, please hang with me math-haters, those external variables create slight adjustments in the angle of trajectory and grow in significance the further away we travel from the point of origin. So it sometimes overwhelms me, even with the so-called little things I do or avoid doing as a parent.
I put myself on heightened alert when I tread near my “regret bone yard” with my kids. People who have no regrets fascinate me I wish I could say I have no regrets, but I do, starting with I regret that I regret! I regret how I treated some people growing up, I regret that I did not stick with my chemistry major in my first attempt at college, I regret that I treated my mother poorly at times, I regret that I was not with my grandma and my dad when they took their last breath. Each regret has its own unique circumstances so when advising my children in any areas that overlaps a regret in my bone yard, I ask myself are you advising young Marsia, or are you advising your kids? I could lie and say I always answer my kids but I don’t, sometime I forget to ask the question or I ask and convince myself I am only thinking of the kids, this is where my parenting gets messy.
We all do it even those amazing put together parenting authors and shows, they have their messy moments. My messy parent internal alarm goes off when I start to feel that gnawing uncomfortable feeling. I believe our greatest lessons are in those awkward, uncomfortable circumstances and times in our life. So when I witness myself or another parent pushing kids in a direction the child doesn’t seem to have a passion for, I get that wobbly feeling.
Case in point, my daughter asked to take guitar lessons I was overjoyed! Oh boy one skeleton in my bone yard is the “I wish I would have played a musical instrument regret.” So here is one of those parenting mine fields for me, I start to watch every step so this whole thing does not blow up. I keep checking to make sure my intent is pure, my advise authentic. Am I pushing her to practice because she needs to learn commitment, to learn patience and realize the accomplishment for that patience and hard work, and not pushing her to clean up my bone yard? It really is a fine line we parents walk, if I am having my children make up for my regrets or if my passion becomes theirs, is their trajectory diverted so off path that their true purpose becomes more difficult to achieve or even see? And what about experience? Are we supposed to ignore our experience, no, but we can’t be consumed by it either. Sheesh, it’s complicated.
And what about failure? I have learned so much from my missteps, can I let my children fail? My mom and dad allowed me and my brother to fail, I can’t imagine what it took for them to stand by knowing full well we would fall flat on our face. I have seen children who are not allowed to fail, their parents make sure of it, I feel such compassion for those parents, but also great sorrow for those children. This has been difficult for me, to let my kids go into situations where I was not sure whether or not they would fail. I still struggle with it every single time. It drives me to distraction when my kids fail an assignment or test, however, my work as a parent is lessened with each failure I allow them to experience because that is where the really learning takes place. I still despise it.
So whether or not I know what the hell I am doing, and I am certain I do not, this is what I do, right or wrong, my parenting litmus test is the way people feel when they are with my kids, if they recall feeling hopeful, happy, or good, I must be doing ok as a parent. It’s the same test I use on myself as a human being.
It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard
I find myself from time to time questioning why certain things are, the way they are. For instance I often wonder why my husband throws his dirty clothes next to the hamper? Is it a commitment thing? For instance does he think, yeah it’s sort of dirty but maybe not dirty enough to wash yet, I’ll throw it next to the hamper and see if I’m still compelled to wear it later.
Another interesting phenomena in my own home is my daughter’s fairly consistent complaint each evening that she does not have enough time to complete all her homework. I actually timed her one evening, she spent 1 hour and 34 minutes sitting in the kitchen, then moving to the living room playing with our dog, moving things in and out of her room all the while actively engaged in a diatribe about how much time she does not have, to do her homework. I, of course, made the mistake all parents of teenagers do, I suggested the obvious, “if you had been working on your homework the entire time you were complaining about it you would be done by now.” I quickly learned all over again not all observations are welcomed by humans of the teenage ilk.
Why do some people preach the evils of sugar but smoke cigarettes? Or why do some people preach the evils of cigarettes but go to tanning beds? I personally know people who fall in each category.
And why do people still go to tanning booths? Melanoma has to be by far one of the worst cancers in terms of prognosis after diagnosis. I know people who would absolutely cringe at the thought of not washing their hands after going to the bathroom but will bake their skin in a tanning booth? What fascinates me is what is going on in the inner workings of their brain synapses that makes one reprehensible and the other acceptable?
What makes a cat person versus a dog person? I am not talking about the crazies, like me, that have a cat, dog, guinea pigs, and fish! I am talking about the cat person who detests dogs and the dog person who detests cats? How does that manifest itself exactly?
Another conundrum, why do some people let little things eat at them? I have seen people come unravelled at the least little thing, my husband cannot stand dealing with ordering pizza on the phone he would come unglued at the slightest variation in the ordering process, now that pizza can be ordered online there is peace in our house.
Since I am calling everyone else out let me share my tipping point, technology. If technology does not function in the manner I expect it to, and I expect it to cater to my every need instantly and consistently, I literally lose it. I am fascinated that this sends me off because I am pretty laid back, you can break almost anything in my house and I really am not going to get too excited. But my computer won’t boot up or worst yet suddenly locks up and I will go into some sort of shape shifting, demonic possession, tongue speaking dimension. I know when I’ve gone there because when I come out of “it” my family is gazing at me with the horrified, yet morbid curiosity one has when looking at a side-show act. You know head tilted, eye brows furrowed, uncomfortable wince, yet can’t take their eyes off of me, look.
As I am sitting here in judgement I also what to question the judgers, you know I want to judge the judgers. I am fascinated, almost to the point of distraction, with people who judge others motives, intentions, and actions. Recently I was told of an interesting situation, a friend was helping a neighbor who found herself in a crisis. So she dove in to action and helped her out, another neighbor got upset that the friend did not let others in the neighborhood know of the situation. I am fascinated by that response. When I found out my first thought was wow so grateful you were there to help out and next was is there anything I can do to help. Frustration with the very person who helped out never crossed my mind. Again another question I ponder, why? What is gong on that your first response is frustration for not knowing? There is obviously more to that story than I am privy to and that is just ok with me.
Ok now my last question to ponder which is popping up all over the internet and social media, why do people in the name of celebrating the holidays, turn to rabid animal-like behavior over purchasing a product at a reduced rate on the infamous Black Friday or now the Thanks”but gone shopping” Day. I know several people who each year venture out on Black Friday and I would gaze at them with the same morbid curiosity one has when looking at a side-show act. Seriously I have been poor, I know when you have to stretch a dollar as far as it can go and yet I still can’t imagine subjecting myself to the insanity that occurs; crowds, traffic, and hysteria, just to save a few dollars on stuff. I guess for some it’s like hunting. The prey is illusive, the conditions can be treacherous, and patience is the key.
My wish is that we all remember to be kind to and accepting of each other. While I may not understand why some people, including myself, engage in behavior that seems incongruent, I love them and I love myself. I always believe people are doing the best they can, with the tools they have, at that particular place and time. Peace out.
No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe. ~ William Kingdon Clifford
You know that God has a sense of humor, why else would I be going through menopause and raising a teenage daughter at the same time. I can tell you I have been through a lot in my life but try experiencing a hot flash at 7 am while making breakfast and listening to your 13-year-old daughter start to cry because I had the audacity to encourage her to eat her food. “I’m not hungry!” she screams, “I know baby but you told me last night when you got home you are not getting enough food at lunch, your still hungry, it’s because you’re not getting enough to eat in the morning.”
Her lip starts to quiver and a look comes over her face that is a combination of pure hostility and despondency. As sweat starts beading on my forehead and the core of my body feels like a coal-fired furnace has just been stoked to its capacity. “You don’t understand!” she half cries and half rages at me. Of course I don’t, I do happen to be a woman who at one time was a teenager too, I have all the same parts or at least most of them, but of course I don’t. My mind is racing because I am trying to keep from grabbing the ice maker and pouring it in my pajamas while also staying engaged in this chaotic scene. “You see, you are never listening to me!” She’s right I find myself floating off to avoid the barrage of complaints and list of injustices she is subjected to in our home. In addition menopause, pre or post or wherever I am on this magical ride, assaults me with attention grabbers, like hot flashes, dizziness, and sudden fatigue.
I really do love my daughter she is beautiful, intelligent, creative and really compassionate, the latter mainly reserved for everyone else but me. I on the other hand get both barrels of her teenage angst blasted at me pretty much on a daily basis. When my husband waltzes in the room he gets the batting of the eyes and a delicate “hi daddy.” We have even resorted to having my husband ask her to do things because if daddy asks her she pops right up and runs over to do whatever he asks, at least most of the time. When I ask I get what can only be described as indignant condemnation followed by a litany of the outrageous unfairness she is subjected to which in turn justifies her uncivil disobedience. Which all pairs very well with my menopausal induced mood swings and anxiety.
I recently went to my doctor and complained I have intermittent spells of dizziness and fatigue. He ordered a bunch of tests and basically said yep your now post menopausal. Now to me that should mean I am over it, no that is the cruel joke of medical nomenclature when it comes to menopause. Pre-menopausal means your ramping up you may have some symptoms but they are few and far between, and before you know it you are post menopausal I not sure when I was actually at menopause because I have been told I was “pre” up until I was told I was “post” and that’s when the real fun started for me. Of the 37 common symptoms they have listed online for menopause I am experiencing 39. The additional symptoms, based on my own non-scientific poll of fellow female sufferers, which should also be listed as common, are low self-esteem and frustration.
Well the low self-esteem and frustration could be from raising a teenager or could just be aggravated by raising a teenager. I will do another non-scientific poll over a few bottles of wine with my test group and report back later. Just so you understand the depth of my suffering I will share my most recent menopause/teenage experience. I was thrilled to be giving a young engineer in my community a well deserved award at a recent dinner. As I prepared the words I would share about the honoree days ahead of time I could not help but hear my daughters constant criticism about my failing memory. So I typed everything out in large bold font so I would not have to rely on my memory at all. As I approached the podium I was hit with a hot flash, great I hope my face does not turn beet red, I just told myself, buck up you will, with all dignity in tact, gulp your ice water when you get back to the table and be good as new. I shared with the audience that I had to prepare a written copy of what I would be saying that evening ahead of time. I did that because I have always been an off the cuff kind of speaker, and this was a real departure from my usual style. I added that my teenage daughter’s constant taunting of me stating things like, I have the memory of a squirrel,
was the deciding factor. I then added that raising a teenager is stressful, which received a room full of affirming laughter.
The next day I shared with my daughter that I mentioned her the evening before in my presentation. I told her that I announced to the group that she likes to razz me saying I have the memory of a squirrel. Without any hesitation she goes off on a castigation that began with “oh my God, see you just proved my point!” I am staring back at her wondering how this bonding moment has once again turned on me and resulted in a belittlement of my mental ability. She then continued “I said you have the memory of a goldfish and the bladder of a squirrel, oh my God this is so perfect.”
My mom used to respond to me during my teenage rants that she hoped I had a child who acted just like me some day. Well, mom you definitely got your wish. I have decided not to plague my daughter with the same curse, I mean someone has got to stop this cycle of menopausal mother abuse.
Late last night I returned home from my first trip to a BlogHer Conference in Chicago. I know I didn’t know about BlogHer until a friend asked me to go with her a few months ago and then the extent of my knowledge: it’s a conference for women who blog. So I was a blank slate when I stepped off the escalator on Thursday and onto the Expo floor.
I am an engineer most of the conferences I have attended in the past had Expo’s with booths from other consulting firms, contractors, drill rig suppliers, pipe suppliers…sorry if I continue the list I may lose you. I mean of course those are the booths you’d see at an Expo for engineers; there were no mock commercials being filmed, no characters dressed up as banana’s or Chuck E. Cheese’s®. However, this EXPO, unlike anything I had seen before, had all of that and more, there were booths for Lean Cuisine®, ULTA, Jamba Juice, St. Martin’s Press, Wild Ophelia®, Trojan®, Coca-Cola®, Windex®, White Cloud® and La-Z-Boy® just to name a few. The atmosphere was playful and fun, my kind of milieu. It couldn’t have been further removed from my previous engineering Expo experience. So in typical fashion I dove in and participated in every crazy contests I stumbled upon; a White Cloud interview, a picture with the La-Z-Boy guys, and video confession my biggest beauty gaff at the ULTA booth. My girlfriend watched, at a safe dignified distance, with amusement and her camera snapping evidence that will be used against me, as I engaged in all this silliness at each booth. I felt like a kid at Halloween, picking up my treats at each stop along the way.
I need to mention, in the spirit of full disclosure, by posting the picture and mentioning La-Z-Boy I am entered into a contest to win $5,000 worth of furniture. I want to share that if I am a lucky winner I will donate the furniture to the Women’s Safe House in St. Louis, a battered women’s shelter. How can you trust that’s what I will do, you can’t, but I will just the same.
Friday morning we started out with a Newbie Breakfast and then we attended the morning session with Ree Drummond the Pioneer Woman, she is to the blogging world what Paul McCartney is to the Rock n’ Roll world, at least that’s what I was told by many, because in all honesty I knew her from her cooking show and not from her blog. In some ways I felt a little like being back in high school where I did not know all the cool people and was a little embarrassed. While sitting at one table I introduced myself and the lovely woman speaking to me very humbly described her blog as if she had 500 followers not a big deal. The woman sitting next to her then interjected she is being too humble and shared that she is frequently featured in The Huffington Post, has over 1 million hits a month and was a retired executive from Campbell. I felt a little foolish I did not know who she was, and each time I would meet these bloggers that were part of the blogging celebrity circle I continued to feel a little out-of-place and awkward that I was not more knowledgeable about the who’s who in the blogoshpere.
I attended several sessions, how to be a social media leader, the business of blogging, the lunch featured a conversation with the author Guy Kawasaki. He is my kind of person, unapologetically authentic. I heard a small group grumbling that they did not like his opinions on publishers and editors. I find people who speak their truth in a respectful and intellectual manner, whether I agree with their opinions or not, extremely refreshing. We all received a certificate for a free copy of his new book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur – How to Publish a Book, and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.
Friday evening was one of the highlights and not because Queen Latifah was the host or that I was in the fourth row from the stage, although that certainly added to the experience, it was hearing 12 of the Voices of the Year winners read their blogs. I laughed, I was emotional, I was grossed out, and I was deeply moved. I thought about what it would feel like to stand up there reading a blog I created to a whole room of writers and feeling their approval. How awesome would that be! I was so amazed as each of these bloggers walked on stage and read their blogs, they all looked so confident, and every one of them did a wonderful job. I was particularly moved by two blogs one by Casey Carey-Brown in her blog Life with Roozle titled I Was Saved At Jesus Camp, and the second was by Adrienne Jones in her blog No Points for Style there was no title given for her submission and I cannot find it on her site but it was a moving tribute to the struggle of navigating our medical system with a diagnosis of mental illness.
The final highlight of my newbie BlogHer experience was the session with Sheryl Sandberg author of Lean In and the Lean In Circles. I am grateful to Sheryl for having the courage to speak out about the gender gap in our world and supporting women all over the globe to use their voice and step up and Lean In. She is intelligent, beautiful and eloquent. And thanks to her I will never call my daughter bossy instead I will tell the world she is displaying executive leadership skills!
I am great at starting things, in fact many of my friends and family have asked me to help them with business plans, project plans, house plans anything related to planning or start-up. I have a great passion for the genesis of almost anything.
It truly is hardwired within me. And it is not just projects, it’s true with people too. When I meet someone I am always interested in how they got to be where they are; philosophically, spiritually, geographically, any of the ally’s. There are people who are passionate to tell their story and I should always be paired with them because I am passionate about hearing their story. There are members of our family that are sick and tired of hearing the same old stories from aunts and uncles, I honestly never tire of it. I can’t explain why I just love to hear how they started out, their beginnings.
Contrary to my provenance loving side, I have come to understand through much self introspection, suffering, tears and sleeplessness nights, that I struggle with completion. I am not even sure what completion really means because to me everything is always a process, each moment a new beginning. However, if I am chained to the idea that I am in a repeating cycle and there is no genesis occurring, no new beginning, no new discovery I feel the need to, well honestly, get the hell out of there, so to speak.
So that brings me to the issue that sparked this stream of consciousness, the book I am writing. In the beginning my keyboard was smoking; I could not type the words as fast as my mind was “speaking” them. Eventually, the keyboard sat there forsaken and each time I approached it I looked like a member of a chain gang being forced to break rock with a sledgehammer.
My book is about the process I went through during a series of personal losses most profoundly the death of my father. Several people referred to that period of my life as the “shitstorm”. However, what I have come to realize is the parts of the book where I focused on everyone else; my dad, my uncle, my brother, those were the easiest to write. However, the remaining chapters actually go right to the intent, the purpose of my book, how I navigated these turbulent waters and came out of it albeit cut up, bruised and knocked around but stronger. The back story to me is very important, obviously, but now that I have to get to the essence of the story I am struggling. Why? I guess because now it’s about me, just a woman and her thoughts, as they say.
Please don’t misunderstand I am not this holier than thou person, I can be as self-serving as the next gal, just ask my husband! It’s really about looking outside, it is so much easier than looking inside. That’s why gossip is so engaging let’s talk about everybody else’s faults, but please let’s not talk about mine. It’s interesting I just went through a relationship where it absolutely drove me crazy, I perceived this person as disconnected from their own spirit. Let me make this clear, this is my perception, my reality, nothing more. However, I realize the discomfort I felt in that relationship is because the behavior I perceived is that which I was most uncomfortable with myself.
When I type those words, the words that describe the real feelings and breakthroughs I experienced as I emerged from the shitstorm, I am fully exposed. I have been there before, during the darkest days of the shitstorm I was fully exposed, I felt stripped naked and exposed to the world. The level of vulnerability was so heightened I can actually feel my toes tingling right now, as if I am on the edge of a 100-story building looking down. So I have to put myself back in that very tender place to complete this book. It’s one thing to wander in there unaware, it’s another to trudge back fully aware. As the saying goes I am pulling up my big girl pants, I am going in! There is work to be done and I will complete this book.
There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. ~ Buddha
My daughter told me a few weeks ago that I was awkward especially when trying to have a important conversation with her about boys. My little baby has her first boyfriend and yes I probably was awkward because I remember her riding her bike for the first time as if it was last week. I remember when she called me momma, now its MOTHER!?!?!? She can’t possibly have a boyfriend, she’s still my baby. I immediately became defensive the minute she shared her observation.
However, my baby was right it was her perception and regardless of anything else, a person’s perception is their reality. And it was not only her perception but would have been a stranger’s perception, because I found myself in an unfamiliar place. I was unsure of myself as I spoke to her, what do I say, how do I say it, what if I say the wrong thing, what will happen, what is the right or wrong thing to say???? So yes I was awkward, now what.
You see my mom never had “the talk” with me, I had no basis of comparison, no framework to pull from, I was flying blind. My mom probably had the same sense of what in the heck do I say, as I do now. What information I did get, along the lines of the facts of life, was from a movie we watched at Our Lady of Perpetual Help catholic school in fourth grade. Honestly, I did not retain much from that but I do remember being confused and slightly frightened after watching the movie. A lot of the “social education” movies we watched were intended to keep us out of trouble through the use of fear. It was along the lines of Reefer Madness another movie before my time intended to use fear to keep kids out of trouble.
Fear was a great motivator and used abundantly in my youth. I remember when the Exorcist was released and the catholic response was mixed but in my community it was deemed a bad thing and akin to worshipping the devil. At least in my unsophisticated mind thats what I heard. My parents had a copy of the book in our house and my brother and I were so frightened about it we threw it behind the wall unit in our living room and covered it with a blanket, as if that would keep us from going to hell. Ahhhhh the power of fear, ok I digress, let’s get back to awkward.
Since my beautiful daughter tagged me with the awkward moniker I have been doing some reflection unfortunately my ego hitched a ride during this reflection. Many demons were fabricated during this time, one demon told me I could not write I was deluding myself, my writing was awkward. One demon told me my opinion was awkward. It is interesting how quickly I am wiling to give my power away when I get triggered based on a past defense mechanism.
My beautiful girl and her magnificent honesty gave me the opportunity to really look at who I am. Yes at times I am awkward no doubt about it, at times I can be eloquent, and I can also be beautiful and judgmental. That is the whole package of me. Why is it so easy to accept the parts of myself I think are “good” but I cannot get warm and cozy with those sides of myself that I deem “less desirable.” When I look at a rose I see the thorns and it does not take away from the beauty of the whole plant, or when I see a gorgeous but poisonous tree frog it does not affect the magnificence I feel when I see that creature. So why do I give the rose and the frog more compassion than I give myself. It’s so fascinating, isn’t it?
The difference now, I recognize when I am not being compassionate with myself, it may not be much but it is a start. So here’s to my awkward side and my confident side may they reside in relative peace within the whole.
“Awkward interests me, he said. At least when you are feeling awkward you are always thinking. When you are feeling fabulous, for example, rare occurrence that it may be, you stop thinking altogether. Which gets you into all kinds of trouble. Hence, you are for the better off feeling awkward. Just the sound of it on your tongue. Like chewing on screws.” – Elizabeth Brundage