Taking the First Step

When you make a life change many people don’t know what to say.  After dropping off my little son at school yesterday a fellow parent started a conversation with me.

So are you enjoying all of your free time?” – Parent

“Um.  I’m not sure I know what you mean?” – Me

“Well, now that you’re not working you have a lot more time to yourself, right?” – Parent

“Yes, for now.  I start school next week so I won’t have as much time then.” – Me

“Yeah, but it’s not the same as working now is it?” – Parent

“No, I guess not.” – Me

Instead of carrying on with the conversation I told the fellow parent I needed to go.  I wished her a good day and left her standing the school parking lot.

When I reached my car I took a deep breath.  I wondered if I would always feel the need to defend my choice to leave my job.  I didn’t explain myself to the fellow parent, but I sure felt like it.  The urge to explain every last detail is overwhelming sometimes.  I made the mistake a few weeks ago explaining what I was doing with my life, to someone I didn’t know and have regretted it ever since.  I ended up spilling out my life story in less than and hour to someone I hardly knew.  After that experience I vowed to stay quiet.

Sometimes we don’t realize how unhappy we are in a situation until we leave.  This was definitely the case with me.  I didn’t hate the job or the work environment  I was at, but I realize now it wasn’t the right fit.  I kept trying to make it fit though.  I thought something was wrong with me because everyone else seemed happy and I wasn’t.  I tried to change who I was so I could fit the job better, but in the end it made me more unhappy.  I realize now if something doesn’t fit it’s better to find something that does.

I’ve come to learn a few things about myself over the course of the last six weeks.  Things I needed to learn and accept, so I won’t make the same mistakes in the future.

Family is my top priority.

The family I was born into, the family I created and the family I married into are the most important people in my life.  The more time I spend with my family and happier I become. I realized my choice for a career must allow me as much time as possible with them.

I’m not a type A personality.

I’ve said this many times before, but it’s really true.  Although I can do many things at the same time (school, volunteer, work, and family), I don’t like it. I’m more comfortable to reduce the load and do a few things successfully, then try to be Wonder Woman feeling stressed out.

When you sell yourself short everyone loses.

I under bid my salary at my last job.  I thought I was doing the job a favor, but in the end I felt resentment for not being paid what I deserved.  I should have never sold my value for such a low price.  If the work you do matters, then ask for the salary it deserves.

You can be replaced.

The work environment adjusts quicker to change, than the person who leaves it.  I thought leaving would have more of an impact, but humans adjust by filling in the gap.  The work goes on just as life does.  I’m reminded that I’m replaceable…we all are.

I’m discouraged at the prospect of starting over…yet again.  However, by reflecting back I’ve taken the first step.

My plan is ready.  I’m ready to move on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Center of The Universe

A conversation between a mother and a little boy.

Mother is cleaning the kitchen.  Mother looks at the kitchen table.

“Hey, who made the big mess on the kitchen table?” – Mother

Silence.  Mother glances in living room and sees little boy.

“Did you make the mess on the table?” – Mother

“Maybe.” – Little Boy

“What do you mean maybe?” – Mother

Mother walks over to kitchen table.

“These look like your pens and markers.  Someone has been drawing.” – Mother

Mother looks a one of the drawings.

“This has your name on it.  Did you draw it?” – Mother

“Maybe.” – Little Boy

Mother looks closely at the drawing.

“What is the drawing about?” – Mother

“It’s about our family.  First there was you and then daddy.  Then came my big brothers and then came me.” – Little Boy

“Oh.” – Mother

“You are the center of the universe.  You are beginning of it all.” – Little Boy

Mother smiles.

“I’m the center of the universe?  I’ll clean up the mess on the table.” – Mother

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The Power of One Little Word

A conversation between a mother and a teenage son.

Mother and son engage in a conversation.  Mother discusses conversation held with son earlier in the day.

I’m disappointed in the way you handled my simple request this morning.  Your response was very self-centered.” – Mother

“I was in a hurry.  I didn’t have time to help you out.” – Tall Boy

“Yes, you did.  You had time.  I asked you help me with something that was important to me.  I was emotional and needed to know I could count on you.” – Mother

” I know.” – Tall Boy

“Remember to think of others as often as you think of yourself.  Your feelings are important, but so are other people’s.  Hearing how ill my dad is very hard.  I need to know you will support me when times are tough.  I need to know you will be the loving son I’ve raised you to be.” – Mother

“I’m sorry, Mom.  I know things have been hard for you lately.  I love you SO much.” – Tall Boy

Teenage son walks over to mother and gives her a hug.

“I’ve never heard you say that to me before.” – Mother

“Never say what?” – Tall Boy

“Say you love me SO much.” – Mother

“I tell you I love you all the time.” – Tall Boy

“You tell me you love me, but I’ve never heard you say you love me SO much.” – Mother

“I say it everyday I guess just not out loud.” – Tall Boy

Mother smiles.

“I love you SO much too.” – Mother

One little word can change everything.

 

 

Moving Forward

 

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Two weeks ago I made an important decision.  I decided to give notice to my job.  Without going into the details I will say it was difficult choice, but something I had to do.  I left my job for professional and personal reasons.

Leaving my job wasn’t an easy choice.  For weeks I reviewed, debated and discussed reasons for leaving and staying.  In the end leaving won.  Some people have been surprised by my decision, but none of my close friends or family are.  They have listened to me for months talk about issues I have dealt with.

Now that I’ve made the choice to leave my job I must deal with the after effects.  Instead of feeling confident I feel insecure.  I keep thinking about conversations that led up to me leaving wishing I could have handled them better.  Although I know my decision to leave was the best one for me I still feel insecure about it.

Insecurity is something I have dealt with on and off for years and now I am dealing with it again.  There is no cure to being insecure only an acceptance that it exists.  Everyone feels doubtful and insecure at times.  I think it’s normal.  It’s also normal to leave a situation and analyze your self-worth.  I guess that’s what I am going through now. I am wondering what my work value is and how to put it to good use.

Therese J. Borchard has a list of  “suggestions on what to do if you are feeling insecure”.  I recently reviewed her suggestions and found them to be very helpful.

1.  Consider it beautiful

Being insecure is never a beautiful thing in my mind.  When I am doubtful I look and sound my worst.  But what this means is when you feel insecure it should be treated as a gift.  When I feel insecure I self evaluate and look for ways to make improvements.  I do a search to see what things I need to work on in order to feel more secure.  For me feeling under-educated is something I feel insecure about.  I know I need more college work completed to qualify for the type of work I would like to do.  With extra education completed I will feel more confident.  My insecurity about my education motivates me to go back to school.

2.  Read your self-esteem file.

A self-esteem file is a listing of things that make you special and unique.  It is talents or gifts that people admire about you.  It could be memories of a conversation with a friend who was grateful for your sense or humor or email from a colleague who appreciated work you helped them with.  One of my self-esteem files is card from my former staff filled with notes of appreciation. Each time I read through the notes I am reminded how much my work as a supervisor was valued and that I was good at something.

3.  Avoid people you feel insecure around.

This is a hard suggestion to follow especially if you want to be known as a nice person.  Avoiding may seem like you are not dealing directly with the situation, but really what you are doing is postponing dealing with someone until you feel more confident.  Some people are not understanding when you feel insecure.  It makes no sense to be around those people because you only end up feeling worse.

4.  Surround yourself with supportive people,

On my last day of work I decided to not go directly home and sit in my house alone.   I went to the workplace of a good friend who I knew was supportive of my decision and would have a friendly smile to greet me.  The people who know and love me are supportive of me even when I express my insecurities.  They trust my choice because they know me well enough to know I don’t make rash decisions.  I have a list of people I call, text or visit to help me through my insecure times.  It makes a huge difference knowing people are supporting me.

5.   Know that it’s invisible.

When I express my insecurity people seem confused.  I always think my self-doubt is obvious like a sign worn around my neck.  But the truth is being insecure isn’t always visible.  The thoughts we have in our head are not heard or seen by anyone other than ourselves.  No one knows what goes on inside unless we share it with them.  Most people are feeling too insecure themselves to notice how insecure you are.

After only a few days from leaving my job I am starting to feel better.  My job was a tremendous learning opportunity and a great way to transition back into the workforce after such a long absence.  I have accepted feeling insecure for now as I work toward a new path.  I am enrolled in school and looking for a new job.  I know I won’t feel insecure forever.  I am moving forward.

 

 

 

I Totally Get It Rene

Last week I was scrolling through a news site on my computer when a story caught my eye.  It wasn’t news about Ebola or the bombing of ISIS in Iraq.  It was a celebrity story about actress Rene Zellweger.  Rene Zellweger is an academy award-winning actress best known for her work in the films Bridget Jones Diary and Jerry Maguire.  She has always been considered a talented actress and one of Hollywood’s beautiful leading ladies.

For the last few years Rene has not been in the spotlight or in any feature films.  No one knows for sure why, but many suspect she needed a break from the pressure of Hollywood and fame.  Recently, Rene made a rare public appearance during a social event.  At the event she looked different.  She looked so different that some speculated she had plastic surgery to alter her looks.

I came across an article featured on The Atlantic titled, “Questions for Rene Zellweger“, by Megan Garber.   In the article Ms. Garber lists several questions she has for Rene.  She wonders about Rene’s appearance and why she looks different.  The article was supposed to emphasize Ms. Garber’s concern for Rene, as she is obviously a fan of hers, however her personal questions came off intrusive and judgmental.

Years ago I was one of those people who would have judged others for having age reversal procedures done such as Botox and plastic surgery.  I told myself I would only grow old the natural way and would never resort to doing things that would alter my appearance.  However, that was when I was younger.

Aging is not an easy process to go through. We are all grateful for the gift of growing older, but it is still hard to accept how much our bodies change over time.  It must be even more difficult for people who live their lives in the public eye who are expected to look a certain way.  I don’t know Rene Zellweger , nor do I know if she has recently had some sort of plastic surgery to alter her looks, but I would totally get it if she did.

I have heavy-lidded, small almond-shaped eyes like Rene.  I have contemplated many times having surgery to remove some of the skin on my upper lids.  Having surgery would not only make me look younger, but would allow my eyes to seem more open and alert especially in photos.

The reason I will not have the surgery isn’t because I think I should age naturally, but frankly because I don’t think I could go through the public scrutiny of having surgery and dealing with other people’s judgment for doing so.  Changing the shape of my eyes would make me look very different.   Knowing people were analyzing my reasons for the surgery would be too uncomfortable.  So as a result my eyes will stay the same.

Imagine going to a social function and having your face being analyzed by millions of people instead of hearing that people are glad you’re back to making movies.  Plastic surgery has a place in our society and so do all the products designed to make us look more attractive and younger.

I know several women who have had plastic surgery everything from a brow lift, eye lid lift, breast reduction, breast enhancement, chemical peel, nose job, and full face lift.  Do I think less of them for having surgery?  No.  Each person made a decision that felt right for them.  Do I wish we lived in a society that didn’t make women feel the pressure to look different than they already do?  Yes.  Women of all ages feel the pressure to be thin, dress stylishly, and look young and frankly sometimes if would be nice not to worry about how you look all the time.

Why does it matter if Rene has had surgery to make her eyes seem more open?  Why do we care if she had Botox to smooth her forehead?  How does judging a person’s choice for how they want to look make a positive difference in my life?  The answer is simple…it doesn’t.

I must finally be a grown up because now I believe decisions made that have no impact on other people are frankly none of my business.

Leave Rene alone, folks.  Stop talking about her face.  Let her get back to work and doing what she is good at…making movies.

Rene

 

Crazy Sort of Brave

In celebration of my 50th birthday my oldest son and I decided to do something different. Not your ordinary kind of different. But something so unique that most of my friends and family were shocked that we did it.

We jumped out of an airplane. Not alone of course. We were tandem to an instructor and jumped from an airplane at 13,000 square feet. For one minute we were in a free fall and then the parachute sail went up and we glided for 7 minutes to the ground.

When I posted our video adventure on Facebook for friends and family to view I was surprised how everyone response was the same. They all told me how ‘brave’ I was. During the entire experience I never thouht for once how brave I was. In my mind I was crazy for doing such a thing.

Brave is a special word reserved for people who do heroic things. Jumping from an airplane wasn’t really brave. It wasn’t heroic. It was just something most people who never do and a little bit crazy.

After hearing how many people thought I was brave I started to think what the word really meant. Does being brave mean doing something other people would never do? Does it mean doing something that involves a risk? Or does mean doing something that requires courage?

I know some very brave people. They have endured far greater fears and uncertainty than jumping out of a plane.

Here are examples brave people I know.

The people who must continue to live after a child they loved has died.

The spouse who is told they are no longer loved and is being left alone to raise the children.

The person diagnosed with cancer and is told they are terminal with only a few months to live.

A child who is being bullied and has no support from the school or community they live in.

The service men and women who are stationed in hostile environments protecting the freedom of people who don’t ever know who they are.

The child who removes a parent from life support because it’s their parent’s wish, but isn’t ready to let their parent go.

The child who must go home to an abusive household never knowing what may happen on any given day.

Being brave doesn’t always mean risking your life. Often it means continuing to live even when doing so seems difficult or impossible.

Jumping wasn’t the scariest part of the event. It was the fear of the unknown on the plane ride up that made me feel most afraid. The fall itself was thrilling. It’s the thrill of doing something so unusual I will remember most, not the fear.

We are all brave. Not because we risk our lives, but because we continue to live despite its’difficulties.

The Joy

A conversation between a mother and a little boy.

Mother and little boy are walking in a store.

Momma,  I’m tired.  Would you carry me?” – Little Boy

“Aren’t you a little too big to be carried around?  You were fifty pounds the last time we weighed you.” – Mother

“Fifty pounds isn’t that heavy.  You work out. You’re strong.  You’re an ox, Momma.” – Little Boy

“An ox?  Thanks…I think.  I may be strong, but you are a big guy now.  You’re seven years old.” – Mother

“Seven isn’t that old.  I can’t drive a car or watch Harry Potter films.” – Little Boy

“I know you aren’t that old, but still won’t you feel strange having your mom carry you around in the store?” – Mother

“No.” – Little Boy

“No?  Really?” – Mother

“No.  When you carry me around I get to rest for a bit and I am closer to you.  It makes me happy.  What’s more important than making your son happy?” – Little Boy

Mother is silent for a moment.

“Come here.” – Mother

Mother picks up little boy in her arms.

See.  it’s not so bad, right?” – Little Boy

“My arms hurt.  You’re heavy.” – Mother

“The pain won’t last forever, Momma.  Someday you’ll miss being able to carry me around in your arms.” – Little Boy

The joy of a seven-year old boy.