Friday, May 11, 2018

Developing EQ (Emotional Intelligence)

Several years ago now I found myself in desperate need to join the workforce. I was in the process of a messy complicated divorce (when are they ever neat?) and I had to try and find a job. I had a degree, however the only experience that I had was in retail and fast food, not in an office (apart from a 5 month temp job) so I found myself at a disadvantage.

First of all I didn't know how to interview, I was reclusive and shy both traits were not conducive to developing interpersonal skills. Next I didn't know how to write a resume, lucky for me a good blogger friend helped me there. Lastly I really didn't know what a day to day job in an office would be like so I was quite unprepared and awkward when I did land a job.

My first position was with a fly by night home security company and their accounting department was a mess. The manager was wrapped up in an enormous project to automate all of their processes using sql and didn't have the time to train. The other employee's had settled into their grooves and didn't really have time for training either so I was paired with different people every day to learn their processes. I was awkward, but persistent in learning and documenting the processes in use. Eventually I was asked to be a supervisor. Unfortunately I was not prepared to do all of the tasks of a supervisor and all of the tasks of a worker as well. My interaction with those I was supervising was ineffective and frustrating, but not surprising given how little time I had spent in the workforce.

I had to quit that job, I was overwhelmed and working way too hard (I'd spent entire nights trying to figure out how to do things at times and didn't log my hours). I didn't know how to prevent myself from being taken advantage of and that wasn't the place to figure it out at anyway.

Fortunately for me the resume that my blogger friend made for me was good enough that I got noticed by a recruiter for a temp job at Adobe. This was a lucky break! I got hired on as a "Datasteward" which was meant to be a 6 month Adobe project but which turned out to be a longer term position. I worked with an experienced, supportive and savvy manager who put a really fantastic team lead in charge and she was my first example of how to interact with others well in the workplace.

Unfortunately my first job had left it's scars, I was terrified somehow of messing up. I worked well with the team lead Kathy and we successfully built a process that incorporated the expensive IBM tool that Adobe had bought with some other tools that Adobe had built internally and turned the initiative into what Adobe had set out to accomplish with the Data Steward team (in fact creating a whole new worldwide team in the process).

However I was insecure about being able to handle being the manager of the team when Kathy left, I was doing OK as team lead for a few months but taking on all of the responsibility was a bit intimidating. I knew there were gaps in my understanding of how to work in a large company and I didn't want those gaps to be revealed. SO I jumped at a chance to join the Order Management team as an analyst when one of the managers at the time noticed my bachelors degree and urged me to apply.

For the first few years of the job as an Order Management rep I was really nervous about making mistakes. I would ask over and over again about procedure and conveyed an aura of incompetency because of this. I poured my heart into improving the process documents that they had on file but still felt frustrated at times. We moved to a new building and we moved to a new invoicing system and I poured my heart into documenting all that came with the changes.

During this time I was trying to develop my EQ, interactions with my manager were strained, I was so worried about mistakes and he was focusing on mistakes during every meeting. My strength at capturing processing procedures became a weakness when it came to actually following the procedures because I mixed myself up with the changing tides of policy.

After several years of this I went back to school to get my MBA and went through several major emotional events (break up with fiance, break up with boyfriend, MBA, engagement, wedding, 2nd divorce) and this all affected my attention and focus at work.

I was extremely disappointed when my colleague was promoted to manager (and praised for her efforts on the process doc team) and I was constantly being called to task for my error rate and not recognized for my contributions to the process documentation effort.

This embedded a seed of jealousy, hurt and resentment that colored my working days and festered at night. It was frustrating, I really, REALLY wanted to leave but I had to finish my MBA and find a good comparable job to apply for.

Well, I had to learn patience and I had to learn to purge the jealousy, hurt and resentment because they were doing me no good. When I got my MBA I was being asked why I didn't move on, my answer is this.

I needed to develop the job skills that experience would give me and I needed to develop my EQ by sticking it out and working on being a part of a team.

It takes time, it takes patience, it means not giving up when the going gets tough. I'm working on developing friendships with the people I work with, learning how to applaud others even when I get overlooked. After all it seems to me that a good pleasant, personable personality is a valuable skill to possess.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Finding My Magic

All of my life I have believed in the potential of learning. I would stack books up with the intention of reading each weighty tome. The thought was that if I could just read enough then I would understand how to interact with people and that would make me acceptable to others in society.

When I viewed my stack of books as a little girl, I had a certain kind of hope that they would cure me of my ignorance. It was only the ones that I opened, along with the risks that I have taken out in the world that have opened me up to the learning that I knew I could find.

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She has helped me to have a new perspective on the creative process. In a way my stacks of books were barriers to engaging with the world, hiding behind what I thought I needed to have in order to be admitted into the club of life. I see now that I can dedicate myself to the pursuit of the things I love despite my imperfections.

For instance in my dream to become a writer I have had a fear that I won't be able to create character dialogue, because I don't get out and talk to many people. I think now that if I show up and put in the hours to develop the craft, then I will get better at it.

I have looked at life through a narrow lens because it has been difficult for me to interact with other people. Somewhat shy as a child, but more fearful and ignorant than anything, and so sensitive (I thought people were talking behind my back all the time), I just didn't understand what motivated others to think and act the way that they did.

Now with the benefit of hindsight I can see that perhaps those children were not as awful to me as I thought, I just didn't have the skills to interact with them.

Knowledge can only truly be acquired through firsthand experience and thought. As I have lived and gained experience, the thoughts and understanding of other people enrich my understanding. But only when I am engaging with others in activity. I have to purposefully do the things that I am scared to do, purposefully push past my fears and discomfort, and try things even though I am not good at them. I have to be present in my life even when I am failing, live and sit with discomfort until I understand what it is and how I can move forward even when I think I have failed and that I am no good.

Learning requires these things of us. Learning requires faith.

Faith is a principle of activity in the present, in order to bring forth a hoped for future. It cannot be exercised on past events, they have already passed, faith can only be exercised on future events.

So now, I am going to have faith in myself that I will engage with life, and participate in the creative endeavors that have brought me so much joy in the past. Not out of some hope of becoming wildly successful and famous but out of a need to create.

Go out there and learn. Dream big, do things that bring you joy. Magic.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Facing Emotional Trials

One of the most difficult skills to develop is the skill of being present with another human being without imposing your own discomfort or interjecting your own point of view upon them.

As a society we try to skirt over bad feelings, avoid them at all costs. Bad feelings are inconvenient, they are uncomfortable, they take time to process and time to heal. 

When you are asked how are you doing? Do you say "I'm fine"? That is how the majority will answer and it is unexpected to hear a different answer. 

I think we need to be more accepting of  negative feelings. When someone is telling of their pain, try not to immediately jump in trying to solve or dismiss it. Simply listen and encourage them, be there for them. This is a difficult thing to do, I've discovered this especially when my daughter woke up in the hospital a few weeks ago in a great deal of pain and confusion. 

It is then when I sat by her bedside at a loss that I discovered how difficult it is to give emotional support. I couldn't hug her, I couldn't do much for her at all except give her a moistened sponge and scratch her feet for her. I had to grapple with those feelings of inadequacy that we all sometimes struggle with and just admit that the power I had was to just be there. 

We hide from sad things, but without an understanding of the difficult and sad part of life it is more difficult and sad to try and deal with sad things when they do come along.

Take some time and listen to this talk by Susan David | The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage and learn a bit about facing hard things.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Finding ways to help out the earth...

Today is Earth Day, hopefully some of you will take the time to assess the decisions you make on a day to day basis that have an impact on the Earth. Sometimes I wish that "progress" had brought us to a different state of being. One of harmony and peace with the earth and with others.

We spend so much of our time in individual or corporate pursuits that we become isolated from others and lose the ability to think and communicate with each other. There are times when I feel like it would be nice to have discussions with my family and friends and find everyone dispersed and unwilling.

In any case this is the world that we live in, whether or not you believe in global warming, care about the extinction of a variety of animals and plants, or the cleanliness of your community it makes a difference.

So find a way to help out the planet, I'm going to buy me a Nifty Nabber, it looks like just the thing to help me to help out the earth!

Unger Professional Nifty Nabber, 36”

Friday, January 19, 2018


Much of my life has been spent in the pursuit of freedom, I could also say in the pursuit of fitting in.

Opening my eyes in the morning is a restless battle between the world of dreams in which I am trying to find a satisfying solution to the drama of my dreams and the "oh shit" moment of realization that it is time to get up and get ready for work.

Depending upon the amount and quality of sleep of the night, or the amount of parental guilt that I'm feeling at the moment I will either get up and make some sort of breakfast and then take a bath before getting ready for work or I will nestle deeper into my pillow and silence the alarm until the kids come banging on the door for a ride to school. My dear Patrick has taken on this duty at times for which I am simultaneously grateful and yet aware that I should drag myself out of bed and do myself.

I view the world as a tableau of events, a glaring bathroom light (which I switch off as quickly as possible), a fuzzy outline of the refrigerator, desperate gulps of water as the night has dehydrated me and the fresh new light of day breaking over the mountain, street and trees. I've decided to simplify my life by wearing the same type of clothes every day. Dark jeans and a dark blue t-shirt. Why? Honestly there are just so many decisions that we have to make everyday that it can get exhausting. I want to be creative and classy in my choice of clothing but I hate buying things just to buy them, I feel like I need to have enough time and money (and to lose a few pounds) to buy good clothing that fits well. I dislike doing things when I can't do them well. I put off a lot of things for this reason. So it's simple clothing that I've chosen to go to, one less emotional decision to make.

I do what I have to do because I want to escape the expectations of others. I want to be free to set my own schedule, to do what I want to do and learn what I want to learn. I feel like I will only be able to do this when I am no longer trapped in the necessity of providing for shelter, food and warmth. In other words when I own a home outright and don't have to work too hard to have enough money to pay for everything. My world is thus reduced to the bare minimum that I need to get through life until I am free. Like a slave buying their freedom by carefully saving all that they make until they've paid off their slave debt.

I've had too many years of fearing for my family's financial security that it has become an obsession for me. I panic sometimes that I cannot be competent enough at my job to stay employed, and sometimes I am so tired of what I am doing that I cast about trying to find some new interest that I can develop and earn money from. Though at this point I fear that I cause myself to lose focus by trying to learn so much and do so much. So I am trying to narrow down the scope of what I want to learn so that I can relax with what little time I have left after work.

Therefore I am the barest version of myself most days. When I have time by myself I am therefore very determined to try to fit all of the rest of what I want to do into it. Thus I ignore people and social obligations because I feel like I have so little time to exist. I have so many things I want to do, I become paralyzed by all of the options and this is something I have struggled with all of my life. I have piles of little unfinished things because I am always feeling pulled this way and that, obligation or desire to appease someone else. That is the most uncomfortable feeling for me, I would rather not feel obligated to appease someone, rather I want all of my attention or affection to come from a place of authenticity, if it is dragged out of me it doesn't feel right. I do care about other people, I do want to do things for my family and my friends but if it doesn't come from my decision to be selfless and caring it really makes me feel upset and resentful.

That's about all I feel like writing tonight on this subject. :)


Friday, December 29, 2017

Do I fit in?

I've been more aware recently of my feelings of... being an outsider, a fraud I guess you could say. This is something that I've read of as a sentiment often shared by women who reach a measure of success, we never feel good enough.

I struggle with the feeling that I am still battling my own naivete, that I need to be more shrewd, more competent. I know I have passed through the trials of school lectures and tests and yet I feel as though there is no way for me to put what I have learned (if I have learned it) to good use.

I walk a line between the world of business men and woman and feel I lack the competence and even the right sense of style to succeed in that world.

Then I question whether or not that is the right world for me, if I would be better off in a comfortable place doing what I feel like doing.

Yes I feel like an outsider. Not a housewife, to encumbered by the concerns of supporting my family to worry about decorating much, or discussing my children (much). I don't have the energy to worry over everything my kids are up to, I wish I could be around and take them places. I wish I could go to their class and help out. I wish I could deep clean my home, keep it really tidy (never been the best at that), fix things that are broken and paint where the walls need paint. I am an outsider to the housewives.

To the business world I am an outsider, the men I know sit around and discuss football and go golfing together, the women dress well and go out to lunch.

I wish I had the time to exercise enough that I was trim and had the time to shop so that I could be stylish. I suppose some day in the future I will have the time for this...

I'm not sure how to push past these perceived boundaries and be more of who I am, feeling secure in myself rather than in the perception that I must be some other way in order to fit into the social order.

I enjoyed watching "The Greatest Showman" because of the message that was conveyed. Stay true to who you are, be proud of what you are, fit in by being who you are. Plus the music was incredibly powerful!

I probably shall continue feeling different and questioning if I am doing the right things in life. That can't be helped, I suppose it is part of the human condition.


Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Reflections

I am in a reflective mood today, it has been a beautiful Christmas day. It snowed last night bringing a touch of snow to make it a white Christmas. I slept in, hallelujah! My children were all here, enthusiastic, and quite happy with all of their presents, thus Christmas has been a success for me. I have spent most of the day reading and relaxing at my parents house. Any time I am presented with the opportunity to do nothing but just be with my loved ones, with no expectation of things that need to be done is a good time to me.

Different thoughts have been floating past my consciousness throughout the day and I wish I had captured them, I think there were some real gems of wisdom and insight among them, but alas I did not take the time to write them down.

I fear that  a lot of times I have needed to make a quick decision in matters that really counted but the decision I made was the one I wish I hadn't made. It seems like later on I was forced into making harder choices because of small decisions that were less than ideal. So I've always feared quick decisions, yet sometimes they've turned out well.

I find that there are many pieces of wisdom that serve as a counterpoint to my thoughts. I will think something uncharitable and low and then recriminate myself for it because I am striving to do better. I am striving to accept my limitations as well as those of others. I try to stop the recriminations of my conscience against my own actions. For I am a harsh critic of my own thoughts and actions. Deserving or not.

I've always been a harsh critic of myself, for some reason it is difficult for me to just allow myself to just accept who and what I am. I suppose in a way it is what prompts me towards improvement, but in another way I am never true to myself. I feel like there is this better version of me that I should be... like it is just out of my reach and that there must be something that I can do that will let me reach it.

In the same way I suppose I have always had a high expectation for others, though at the same time I've always made provision for their shortcomings. I reason it out in my mind a circular thought leading from irritation to explanation to reconciliation hopefully without them ever being the wiser to my thoughts. It's tiring though sometimes...

I want to be the sincere, thoughtful, open-hearted heroine that others find so endearing. My actions and motives are put through a whirlwind of thought though before coming out the other end, I suspend my judgement, and act after careful consideration (most of the time). All of this is tiring, I wish I wasn't quite so analytical, but that is what I am.

I love people though, I love them a lot. I've always wanted the best for my siblings, for my children, for my parents, for my friends. I've always wanted to somehow find the magic key that unlocks and relieves the hurts they have suffered, somehow, help them improve their lives so that they will find greater happiness. Because somehow I've always been able to see beyond the barriers that people put up to hide behind and I've always seen that there was so much potential for them. Both thoughts are unnerving  and not necessarily helpful so I've stopped trying as hard as I used to. Which sometimes makes me feel disconnected from myself.

One other honesty before I stop writing tonight. I know that most days I am living but I am not alive. I turn myself into an automated robot that get's up, ready and to work so that I can come home and do it again and again and again... it is only on days of seemingly endless freedom and solitude like today that I find I am able to breath and think. I wish there was a way to always have that freedom, but I've not discovered it. I wish I could.


Friday, December 8, 2017

What would be said of me...

I've thought sometimes, what would people say of me if I died today? The things that I have accomplished in my life are things that I would never have dreamed for myself to have accomplished.

Would they say, she has traveled to different places, Australia, Ireland, Germany and Austria. She loved to travel! 

Is it enough to say that, to reduce those experiences down to a statement so simple. What did it mean to me that I have traveled? The answer is that it means more to me than I can express, I feel so lucky to have traveled so far and seen for myself the differences and similarities between people. Yet, these trips came about because of other desires. To meet a man in Australia who engaged my mind in deep conversation, to see one of my favorite cousins get married in Ireland and to seek out my cousin (her sister) who married a German man and lives in Frankfurt. All of these destinations were unexpected to me, I wish that I could have spent more time in realizing the grandeur and significance of the places I visited but each trip was short so all done in a whirlwind and only later after the trip was complete did I look back and think about the places themselves as much as my goal of connection with friends and family.

Perhaps those who know me might say that I was beautiful. They will look with their eyes on the person they know. 

Could they ever know the way my own eyes saw myself? The visions of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to be? My insecurities and those things that I liked about myself?

They might praise my scholarship, I pushed on through school even though it all looked daunting. I am proud of putting in the hours to get where I am but in some cases regret the time that I wished I had to do other things, to be another person.

Would they describe me as kind? A good mother? Wise? Probably. 

I feel as though there is more to me than can ever be reduced to words, there is more that I would have my children learn if I could. I wish I could pass on all that I know and have learned but I think that our lives, our experience and knowledge is not something easily transferable. We wear out our patterns of living as we go along and these patterns cannot so easily be picked up by the younger generation. We can no sooner step into their shoes as they in ours. Though I do look at my children sometimes and think of how much I wish I could just make things easier for them. A wise gardener knows that sometimes the strongest plants face the most adversity. 


Sunday, December 3, 2017

I and We

I, a word of self identity.

Our consciousness and conscience.

All I am, all I have, my sole possession.

I walk alone, playing the game, creating what I can.

Can I gain more I? Can I be more?

I am alone

Until I find you

I, linked with you, aware of each others awareness.

Briefly, WE exist.

WE are more! Spark and inspiration, WE create!

I value WE

Yet I defend I

I am the only one who can.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ah time, that thief of my life

I relate to the world through a rich inner thought life. Thoughts stir around in my head all day, some mundane, some poetic, all of them almost always lost in the shuffle of my everyday busy life. Sometimes that is quite discouraging because it feels as though I am a shell walking throughout my day doing my work and existing in each moment reduced to a robotic routine, the meaning of life distilled into droplets of interaction with other human beings and there is a deep hunger there. I am interested in people, I want to sit down and probe the depth of their thoughts and find out what makes them tick. I tried to do that with a friend as we took walks together but I found that she held a shallow pool of interesting thought and didn't seem to be driven like I am towards constant improvement and seeking after knowledge. This was discouraging to me and though I am still good friends with her, I still find myself lacking a thought partner, something that I am used to though so I've retreated to the familiar territory of books and TED talks, anything that gets me to think outside of the ordinary humdrum of life. I find that when I read I analyze the way that the author has set up the book, how they are developing their characters and plot. Though without the time to work on my own book I despair at ever creating my own work of fiction. I'm not uncaring towards people, however I find it hard to maintain relationships with the depth of friendship that I prefer because the demands of time on my life make that possibility low. I am selfish a lot of times, I know. I am also frustrated because of the many things I want to do with my time that I cannot because I am a responsible adult type person. Well, I've got more to write but I am being called away... goodnight.