Archive | December, 2010

Post-a-week for 2011

31 Dec

WordPress has launched a challenge to keep all of us “bloggers” posting more often and as one of my end-of-year 2010 resolutions I’m committed to joining the Post-a-Week for 2011.  (At least one new posting every week!)

One of the most challenging aspects of blogging for me is to decide what topics to write about, and how to express my thoughts in a coherent way that will keep readers interested.  One of my goals for 2011 is to simplify my life by getting rid of things I no longer need, streamlining my bookshelves, and setting a new direction of optimism with positive thoughts and surrounding myself with positive people and relationships.

Sunset in Istanbul

Sunset in Istanbul

2010 was a tough year

filled with financial challenges, ghosts from past relationships, negative influences, family stresses (with a few scary moments), friendships that dissolved (or were not good for me), work that disappeared (more than 10 weeks) , and promises by various parties that never materialized (both work and personal).  And somehow I survived through it all…

2010 was also a good  year

in many other ways with new friendships (hurrah for positive people who grace my life!), self-growth (and increased self-love), expanding career opportunities (not yet profitable), increased respect from project management experts (and peers!), an international award (Thank you BFPUG), foreign travel (US Virgin Islands, Montreal, Japan, Brazil, Turkey, Denmark, and throughout the US), love from my children (they are my grounding), and new keynote speaking experiences (International Function Point Users Group, International Project Management Association, Danish Technology, and others).

2011 will be stellar

2011 will be Stellar!

2011 will be a stellar year (along the lines of a self-fulfilling prophecy)

and I hope you’ll be along for the journey with me.  I know that I’ll still face challenges (doesn’t everyone?) and I am optimistic that they will fade into the background with the light of an increase in positive relationships, new friendships, love, career success, health and happiness with my children and friends.

Thank you for reading in 2010 – and PLEASE comment (otherwise it feels like a sea of empty chairs I’m talking to) — it’s important to know what you think, even if you don’t agree!

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy, love-filled, positive, and prosperous 2011… and a safe New Years Eve!

Carol

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Survival trumps friendship during a recession…

20 Dec

How many of your friends are struggling in this economy?  Have you noticed that these same friends do more cocooning and are less receptive?  How about you – do you find yourself withdrawing from social occasions when your own finances head south?  Of course if one does not have money to go out, it is obvious that spending will decrease.

Do you think this recession (and its continuation) affects our overall society and friendliness?  Has the sociological effect of the downturn been a consideration by our U.S. congress?  Could our global outlook and our friendship to the world be affected by this economy?

I wondered about many of these questions both professionally (as work has decreased and my own financial situation has worsened) and personally (where friendships seem harder to keep up) – and I finally think I have discovered a link between the economy and friendships in the world.  Read on…

One of the most famous models used to explain human behavior is called

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

In short, how humans behave is influenced first by our physiological needs (food, shelter, clothing and other basics of survival), then by our safety needs (personal safety, job security, medical needs), both of which must be satisfied before the social or other higher-level needs enters the picture. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization or the ideal “nirvana” situation for people whose lower level needs (including social and self-esteem needs) are satisfied.  According to Maslow, the highest achievement any person can do is to reach the top of the pyramid.  (Of course, there is a full school of knowledge and sociology that accompanies this model and ample internet materials about each level – I simply wanted to present the basic premise of the model here.)

Have you noticed a lessening of overall friendliness and friendships during the recession?

I’ve been puzzled by some of the personal interactions with friends and how more and more people seem to be cocooning these days, then it hit me that it may be due to Maslow’s hierarchy.  Here is my theory:

When people are without sustainable income, have lost their jobs/livelihood, or are scrambling to make their mortgage payments (shelter), pay for food or give the essentials to their families – their entire world and survival is affected. Moreover, as a result, wherever they may have been prior to their current situation (i.e., self-actualized or social) – they end up being at the base level of the pyramid.  The same situation happens when the economy forces people to revisit their spending habits when their own job or medical security is affected (level 2).

As such, friendships are the domain of level 3 – social needs – and when people are challenged to succeed in level 1 or to reach level 2, their social needs fall by the wayside.  This recession no doubt will count among its casualties the demise of many, many friendships and relationships.  Not only will these relationships be those that are personal neighbor-to-neighbor type relationships, but rather also global political relationships between nations.  When a country’s people are foraging for work and barely surviving, it is no wonder that their outlook on the world is degraded.

So, consider this – perhaps instead of equally withdrawing from people who withdraw from us due to their own survival needs being first, we should be friendlier and extend our hand with more patience and consideration of their plight.  After all, if they are in basic survival mode, they cannot possibly see their way into putting friends or relationships as a priority.

A few suggestions…

Here are a few ideas of how you (and I) can make a difference in today’s “survival trumps friendship” state of society:

  • Smile and be patient with sales clerks and restaurant service people who seem to be frustrated;
  • Open a door for someone or help someone carry a package that they seem to be struggling to carry;
  • Let someone else have the closer parking spot;
  • Let someone go ahead of you in the grocery line even if they have more than the express line number of items;
  • Pay for a friend’s cup of coffee instead of going Dutch;
  • Give someone a compliment (sincerely);
  • Show understanding when someone is slow at a checkout line or in traffic;
  • Give a homeless person at an intersection a few dollars;
  • Forget that someone cut you off in traffic.

Remember that those who cross your path may not be as fortunate as we might be at the current moment.  For me, when I see someone less off than I am, I consider the phrase “for the grace of God, go I” – because our roles could be reversed if not for good fortune and opportunities I have had.

What do you think?

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and safe weekend ahead!

Carol

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Year-end resolutions… a fresh start

16 Dec

So many people talk about New Year’s resolutions that it makes for good commentary by mid-January (or by Jan 31 if it involves a month-long fitness program!) as most people break them.

I got to thinking about this and came up with:  Why not do something different this year?  (Along the lines of the Einstein quote:  Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.)  Why not set up healthy, end-of-year resolutions by December 15 and use them to propel your year forward?

By starting with a year-end resolution today – on January 1 either my resolutions will be ½ way to becoming a new habit (it takes a minimum of 31 days for something to become a habit!) or if I strike out, then I can still start the new year on a positive note.  Either way, my end-of-year resolutions will set me up for new year success!

And instead of an unreasonable number of resolutions – I’m going to go with numbers used in baseball:  3 resolutions (like 3 possible chances to hit a home run) and 4 possible restarts (for when life throws me curve balls I don’t expect!) And, I’m going to keep score and go public (I’m confident in my own ideas these days that I don’t care if anyone disagrees with me).

So here are my end-of-year resolutions:

1.      Prioritize the Royal We (me, myself and I) before anyone else.

I’ll be the first to admit that I used to share my energy, my time, and my talents freely with others – often to my detriment.  Whenever someone called me with their problems (often in the middle of the night), emailed me (for free advice) or asked me for help (usually impacting my schedule), I was there for them without as much as a second thought (and that’s the problem).  Typically, I ended up with the short end of the stick when it came to money, energy, or time for me, and I didn’t realize that I did it to myself.

Not that I will change the amount or the energy that I give to  others – but, I will take a moment (BEFORE responding) to  consider my Royal We priorities and how my response could affect them.  If there is no detrimental result on the Royal We to being there for the other person, I will continue to be my giving, cheerful, responsive self.  But if there is a downside (i.e., I will be short of time, money or energy by giving it away, or I will deprive myself of sleep without good reason), then I will respond with a gentle but firm – NO, and have confidence that the other person WILL survive.  (I will admit that this rule will never apply when it comes to a plea from my children.)

If you were raised to believe that you have to love yourself first before you can share anything valuable with others, I applaud your knowledge and understand that you are probably aghast when you hear me declare this.  Many of the rest of us were taught as children to put a higher priority on the needs of others (above our own).  While this works well for youngsters (share your toys, don’t be greedy, be generous with the other kids), it doesn’t bode well for adults. As a result, we end up with a sense of self-regret or self-loathing because we make promises to serve others before taking care of ourselves. And we cannot expect or anticipate that anyone else should take care of our needs – it simply isn’t the way of the world and it never was.

Therefore, my commitment going forward is to the Royal We (me, myself, and I) BEFORE giving my time, talents, or energy to others.  I deserve this me first treatment from myself!

2.      Listen to my intuition and ignore the noise outside.

If you’ve read my blog posts over the past 2 years, you’ll know that for many years I abandoned my intuition in favor of listening and cooperating with others who told me they knew (better than I could) what was best for me.  I now realize that controlling people (and almost everyone) behaves solely to help themselves (including trying to control others).  In so doing, I ignored and overrode my intuition to avoid conflict, and I tolerated toxic relationships for far too long.  No more!

This resolution is an ongoing process and not an easy one because it means severing and ending toxic relationships, setting up healthy boundaries to keep my esteem intact, and saying “Stop right there” when someone spews verbal diarrhea (or abuse) in my direction.  (You are right if you say that I should never have tolerated this, but live and learn.)

Since I’ve stopped tolerating abusive behavior from others, I’ve realized that I’ve always been whole, complete, and perfect in the universe after all.  My intuition and sense of self has rebounded, and I know that it’s the right thing to do!

3.      Create expectations only of myself.

Another realization is that I can only ever influence or control my behavior and not that of anyone else in the world.  This is major for me because in the past (and sometimes in the present), I unfairly expected that the Golden Rule also applied to others (not true!)  If I choose to treat others well there is no connection with how others will behave or treat me – there is no correlation!

Again, I was raised in the belief that everyone followed the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would like to be treated yourself) but the world is not holistic.   It WAS disappointing to discover that we cannot take anything personally (ignorant people are ignorant to many people, kind people are kind to many people, etc.)

While it is my choice to follow any given philosophy (the golden rule, give and take, be kind to others) – I can only ever affect my behavior.  To have expectations of anyone else sets me up for disappointment and failure.  People act in their own best interests and follow their own set of rules for life, and now that I know it’s got nothing to do with me, how can I take anything personally? (Thank you to don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements for this illumination).

This resolution won’t be easy because it means overcoming a lifetime of training and reinforcement that set up the false belief that I have something to do with what others do or say.  It is simply not true – people will say and do what they want regardless (and in spite of) what I do. (This can be a big relief!)

I’ve already started to live these resolutions today and the results are promising!  Assumptions about w I’d like others to respond withered before my very eyes in several conversations, and I don’t feel any disappointment (or happiness) in what they said or did.  People simply are who they are – I’ve got nothing to do with that, nor should I.

What do you think?  Are year-end resolutions a possibility for you? Do you share my outlook or resolutions?

Wishing you success, prosperity and many happy memories today and as we approach the new year.

Regards,
Carol

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A celebration of emotional sobriety…

14 Dec

Celebration
Five years ago today, a Clearwater judge disconnected the life support from my dying marriage and granted me a new life as a single person.  The day was quite different from the beginning (my wedding day) — there was no fanfare, no celebration, no friends around to bid me well on my new direction in life.  Looking back, it was one of the most pivotal days of my life and marked the beginning of the life intended for me… one filled with emotional sobriety!

Now, do not get me wrong – I was in love with the person I thought I married and had hoped for a lifetime of wedded bliss, but things seldom turn out as we plan.   I do have two wonderful adult children who bring joy to my life and who are, in my humble opinion, a gift to the world around them.  I would never go back and make any decision that would invalidate their existence even for a minute.

Without delving into any details about what happened or led to this fateful (and wondrous) day, I would like to share with you some of the learning points from the past 5 years.  It’s been filled with a pile of firsts – the first time in my life I’ve lived alone (I was a mere youngster when I moved away from home to become a wife, and more than 25 years since); the first time I’ve had to deal with an inflated mortgage in a down turned market; the first time I had to make tough love decisions.  I am proud to say I’ve survived!

So, here’s some of what I’ve learned (with gratitude to those who said it better than I ever could in the quotes below!)

  • It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion. – African Proverb
  • The best gift you can give yourself is the present.
  • Language… has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. – Paul Johannes Tillich
  • There’s a reason that counselors are paid – no one really wants to know the truth when they ask, “How are you?”
  • The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. – W.M.Lewis
  • Being alone is a million times better than being with a narcissist.
  • To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in their closet. – Charles Caleb Colton
  • Mean does not go away. Amazingly, mean people are never alone because misery loves company.  Don’t waste even one heartbeat on a mean person when you can walk away and be with yourself.
  • Letting go has never been easy, but holding on can be as difficult. Yet strength is measured not by holding on, but by letting go.  – Len Santos
  • The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. – Mark Twain
  • We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell
  • Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward. – Unknown
  • No one can ever love you as much as you can.
  • There’s no need to miss someone from your past. There’s a reason they didn’t make it to your future. – Unknown
  • Wisdom is not the domain of the aged but of those who speak with compassion at any age.
  • Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person is like expecting an angry bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian. – Shari R. Barr
  • The measure of a friend is not if they are there during daytime hours, but that they are there for you when crisis strikes.
  • You cannot build happiness on the unhappiness of others. – Unknown
  • “The Royal We” (me, myself and I) make for great company!

While my life is not perfect, I know that I am on the right path headed in the right direction for my life.  I am grateful for life, and I love the solitude and security of being in love with myself. It is great to know that my intuition and my powers of perception work just fine.  I was never as the song says “Crazy after all these years.”

Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

p.s., To all of you who responded that you support my writing of this blog – thank you!  I appreciate that you read my posts and are a part of my virtual community.  While I enjoy my company, sometimes, it’s nicer to be alone with all of you.

HolidayRegards,
Carol

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Should I stay or should I go?

7 Dec

Today marks the 100th post

on this blog over the past 2 years… and as people typically do when there is a landmark, I feel like celebrating in some small way.

But, before I do, I’d like to ask you to venture back with me, about where The Dekkers Report started, where it’s going, and whether it is even worthwhile to continue.  I started writing to have a dialogue with you – readers known and unknown – about current affairs (things like Technology Barbie, Bullying, etc.), and to express my thoughts (and elicit comments) about  everyday life happenings.  From my writer perspective, the blog has done that – I know that I’ve meandered through a variety of topics and ideas and thoughts, but I don’t have a real sense on whether it really has connected with any of you.  (Is this the curtain call?)

Evanescence - The Open DoorI thank you for the various comments I’ve received over the 2 years, they have kept me writing when, at times, I’ve felt that I had nothing real or worthwhile to share.  Your responses and comments have been valuable and insightful – I appreciate them all.  So, having done 100 posts, I’m at a crossroads. Readership is small (that can be a good thing) and growing ever so slowly (a writer needs to increase readership!) I could continue to use creative energy to keep penning my thoughts a couple of times a week, or I could funnel it into something else and chalk it all up to an experiment in blogging.

So, I’m going to put it out to you:  what do you think – should I stay or should I go? Do you get anything out of my posts?  Can you think of any compelling reason that I should continue with The Dekkers Report?  Or should I pack it in and spend my energy elsewhere?  Are there any topics that are (or have been) worthwhile to you?

If no comments come back on this post, then the writing is on the wall and the masses will have spoken with resounding silence…

Here in Florida our temperatures are dipping down into the teens (F) tonight so it’s a chilly week here in the “Tropics”… stay warm and healthy wherever you are!  I’m going to celebrate with a spiced latte.

Carol

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Change is the natural state…

6 Dec

Has your life gone exactly as you would have predicted when you were younger?  I don’t know anyone who is in the exact place they had envisioned years ago.

I know that when my children were young, I used to think that Chaos was the natural state… there was always frenetic activity at our house between homework, activities, pets, friends, field trips, etc.   (Sometimes I miss those days!)

These days my house is much less active – I live in the same home that used to house 4 people, 2 dogs, 2 cats and always friends of my kids sleeping over, and now there are rooms in my house that are no longer used. Since the real estate market is so depressed in Florida and I have no equity since having to refinance (due to the divorce), it doesn’t make sense to try to sell and move.  Now, before you think that I’m not happy – I have to tell you that my life today is one that I only dreamed of a mere five years ago when I was in the midst of household disharmony and threats of violence.  I now know that Change – not Chaos – is the natural state!  And Change is a good thing.

Back then (5 years ago), I dreaded returning home from a trip because I knew that the household would erupt and fighting would greet me. I longed for a life filled with peace and happy, healthy grown children.  While change happens slowly, my vision of a peaceful, harmonious state did come into being.  Today my children are grown and healthy and finding sustainable work in an uncertain economic environment.  The main parts of my vision came into reality and today I cherish watching peaceful sunsets with my cat on my west-facing deck. I am grateful for peace and harmony in my life!

What I forgot in my vision of the future was to include specifics about what I wanted and needed for the Royal We (me, myself and I).

So, today I envision a future  that involves more about me and for me. I neglected myself in my quest when I envisioned peace and happiness for my children.  (Not that the last 5 years has been bad… I’ve co-authored two industry hardcover books, nurtured new, individual friendships, joined networks, traveled and spoken in new countries, and worked to reinvent my career – and yet my life is not how I’d like it to be.)

I envision continued good health (a priority), plus a training and speaking calendar filled with prosperous career bookings at rates that show respect for my knowledge and expertise, more international (paid) engagements, a social calendar filled with fun events and outings with friends, and a financial standing that puts me back in line with where I was headed before my divorce.  I can envision it, feel it, almost taste it – yet the universe (along the lines of the Secret) has not yet delivered on it.

Now that I have the confidence that Change is the natural state – I can be more patient than I might have been in the past.  I long for a more robust cadre of engaged and sincere friendships, more well-paid contracts, more travel adventures, and more social events where my presence makes a difference.  And for the first time, I can also envision that there could be room for someone in my future as a dear friend or partner – something that I never could even consider in the past.  As change evolves, revolves and intertwines its way into our lives, I envision once again becoming involved in a positive connectivity of a community again soon.

As the change in life over the past 5 years has shaped into my present, I find myself living in more isolation than ever before.  While this has been good for self-discovery and growth, it’s no longer productive for an extroverted person like me.  So, what can I do but envision a future with changed results.

I welcome Change as the natural state in my life. How about you?

Have a productive optimistic week!

Carol
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