Tag Archives: Canada

Overgiving and Disappointment – A Self-Induced Hell…

23 Dec

I could have called this post: Confessions of a Chronic Over-giver …because, unlike regular giving, I believe that over-giving is an affliction/disease/compulsion.

My definition of over-giving (it is not a dictionary term):

Over-giving (verb) – the act of giving too much at the expense of one’s own well-being or needed resources.  An over-giver compulsively gives even when it is not asked for, and sometimes even when it is not wanted, needed or useful.

For me, this is a life long affliction (I recall the Brownie motto: “a Brownie (girl scout) is cheerful and obedient, a Brownie always thinks of others before herself”.)

I first wrote about over-giving a year ago when I read an article by Elizabeth Gilbert (The author of Eat, Pray, Love) titled “How-to-Avoid-Giving-Too-Much-of-Yourself” in the December 2011 issue of Oprah.  (Here’s the link to the my original post “The more you Give, the more you… Give“)

I felt awakened then, yet now, one year later, I’m still doing the same things… and I end up in my own private (self-induced) hell.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote:

“Now, over-giving is not quite the same thing as generosity. Generosity is neither entangling nor aggressive, because the generous person doesn’t expect anything in return. The over-giver doesn’t expect anything in return either—except to be petted and feted and praised and loved unconditionally for the rest of time (and I was)—so that’s not emotionally loaded. Nothing toxic there!

For most of my life, my over-giving problem was relatively contained, limited by my own resources. But then a few years ago I wrote this book called Eat Pray Love, which sold about a bajillion copies, thus transforming me overnight into a wealthy woman, and presenting me with the amazing newfound opportunity to not merely over-give but to over-over-give. Oh, bliss! I was like an alcoholic locked in a distillery—what wonderful and terrible luck!”

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/How-to-Avoid-Giving-Too-Much-of-Yourself-Elizabeth-Gilbert#ixzz2FziA4bez

Gilbert goes on to say how her over-giving resulted in lost friendships, disdain and lack of appreciation – something I know only too well.  Like Gilbert, I realize that the disappointment that ensues (and the realization that I have to do without by not keeping my resources for me!) – is a self-induced hell.

My journey to unconditional self-love includes the awareness that I need to put ME FIRST and figure out “what’s in it for ME?” before I routinely over-give of my time, my money, and my energy.  (Note, I said “over-give” not give.)

The first step is to recognize my bad behavior

I realize that I over-give instinctively (and thinking it is “helpful”) by:

  • rescuing others when they say they are in pain (I make the mistake of NOT first asking what is needed and assuming I CAN help!  Sometimes I make things worse and it comes back to bite me!);
  • giving to people who haven’t asked or don’t need my help (I’ve given away over a million frequent flyer miles to friends and family in Canada, some of whom now do not visit unless I send them a “free” ticket);
  • offering to over-give of my time or money or energy before confirming I have the capacity or capability to help (and not considering if it could  be detrimental to my own well-being).

I fully realize today that I cannot save the world (or anyone!) and that over-giving hurts others as much as it hurts me.  Other people learn to take advantage of my over-giving (my own fault) and they often respond with disdain or rejection or downright hostility.

 

Recognizing that my behavior hurts both me and others…

I frequently over-give to my children (I should be apologizing to them for doing this – it has created a sense of entitlement!), family members, friends, and even strangers. I once gave a $600 Delta airlines voucher to an acquaintance to come to Florida for Christmas. When he got here he spent so much on himself he had to purchase and new suitcase for all the “loot” he could now afford from the $600 saving on airfare!  (When I asked him to assist me with a trip to Europe months later, he said he couldn’t afford to help me at all – airfare was my problem to afford!)

When I put others ahead of myself, I realize I over-give.  It always comes at my expense (there is no free lunch or free airline trips or free hotel rooms – there is always a cost!)

Examples of compulsive over-giving…

I routinely give away airline tickets (few points left), hotel nights (ditto), time (without being asked), expertise (that should be paid for by clients!), money, and other resources.  I thought that I gave these things freely and with little expectation of reciprocity, hoping to foster a good relationship of mutual giving and receiving, but I believe that is delusional thinking.

One of my siblings (whose family of 4 I’ve flown to FL on my “points”, visited for 2 weeks in Canada at my expense when they were despondent over a relationship, and flew down again on points so they could vacation), no longer talks to me.  When I had my own crisis and needed support, the sibling didn’t have the time or energy to reciprocate.  It was my own folly to have expected support as a mutual thing. My over-giving led to unrealistic expectations on my part – and I realize today that they could have afforded the trips on their own.

I am learning that people who take without giving, are nothing to do with  me, and my expectations of reciprocity are both narcissistic (on my part) and unrealistic.

Another family member (who I have flown around the world, often to save him/her money – even when not asked) told me that my gifts are conditional to them being my emotional support. Perhaps that is true – the over-giving may be my way of “buying” my way.  Stark reality that my actions hurt me – I need to stop this over-giving.

 

Water Under the Bridge, time to move on…

Having seen the negative effects of my actions – you’d think I’d have learned to stop them (Recall the Einstein quote:  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.)  And seeing the positive effects when people give so much less and are held in high-esteem, should be my wake up call.

My personal history includes  thousands more instances where I gave and was met with disdain, rejection, and even dislike. Like Elizabeth Gilbert, I need to allow people to help themselves when they can. I need to step back and figure out my own life instead of being an unhelpful ENABLER. I need to become a hopeful, generous, good-hearted, giving person – with no expectation of anything from others.  I need to practice TOUGH SELF-LOVE instead of trying to help others through over-giving!

If I had a nickel for every trip I’ve given away, every hotel room I’ve paid for, every trip I’ve taken to support others, every hour I’ve donated more than was necessary – I’d be rich beyond my wildest dreams. Instead, I am flat out of airline miles, hotel rooms, and money – and it’s my own damned fault as an over-giver. Ultimately I’m a disappointment to myself!  (Don Miguel RuizThe Four Agreements cites the first agreement as “Always live with integrity” (i.e., never treat  yourself worse than you would treat a best friend – and I need to learn to live more selfishly with integrity!)

The Solution to Over-giving

Overcoming this compulsion to over-give is not going to be a quick fix where one can pop a couple of aspirin and go to sleep, and I need help.

As part of this journey, friends promise to help me identify and recover from this addiction to “saving the world.”   I will still be a “giving person” but when I am tempted to over-give of my time, energy or money to someone, they promise to pull me back, slap me silly, and confront me… at least until I can realize and recognize the self-abuse that comes with over-giving.

In this season of over-giving, over-consumption, and capitalism, isn’t it about time we all have more gratitude and less disappointment?  If you are like me, I confess that I am an over-giver and it has cost me friends, family, and respect. I can see the level of respect earned by the givers and takers in my family (none of them over-givers!) – I’d like some of that!

Wishing you a happy holiday season no matter how you celebrate – and a happy new year 2013!

p.s. One of the most beneficial sites I’ve found lately is “The Receiving Project” an endeavor that fills you up with life gets you down – it allows you to be open to receive from the universe – especially helpful when you are feeling depleted!

Carol ❤

 

Put on your own mask first…before assisting others

19 Sep

I am fortunate this week to have the company of my daughter who is down from NYC for a bit of time before she moves overseas to teach English in Asia.  She is one of the most caring and generous people I know and often espouses wisdom beyond her years.

Either yesterday or the day before (my memory is just not as sharp as it used to be), we were talking about the support she constantly provides to others, and how, at critical times of stress, one cannot lend support to others when it is most needed within.  I hope that she won’t mind me paraphrasing her words – but they were along the lines of

“Put on your own mask first… before assisting others.”

As women, I believe that most of us were raised to help others before thinking of ourselves — and, as a result, we support everyone around us, before tending to our own needs.  Often, when we need support, we find that we stand alone.  And, I might add, it is our own fault – we have a flawed belief system!  What gives us the right to expect support from others just because we give it?

Life is not fair (we know this by now) and there is no guarantee of reciprocity!  (I’ve said it before that The Golden Rule is a good theory for teaching children to share, but it seldom works in adult life!)

I’ve talked to several confident and successful women friends who were raised similarly (gosh, one of the Girl Guide sayings when I grew up in Canada was:  “A Brownie is cheerful and obedient – a Brownie always thinks of others before herself” – sheesh !!!!) — and share a diminished sense of self-worth!  When one gives away something that which is still needed (support), it is folly to expect survival.  After years of giving to others, we end up feeling resentful that no one is nurturing us.  The answer is that we need to nurture our own needs first!  This means giving ourselves ample support –be it financial, emotional, cheerleading, physical rest, happy thoughts, encouragement, empathy, unconditional love, etc. — BEFORE supporting others.   (A novel thought indeed!)

I believe that this “oxygen mask philosophy” should be taught to children (and adults who never learned it) everywhere:  Take care to support and love yourself (put on your own mask first); then – and only then – can we effectively help others.

To my lovely daughter – I wish for you all the wonders and love that the world can possibly give you – you deserve it.  I love you and I hope that somehow, someday, you’ll see my love as support and wisdom back to you.  Thank you for YOUR wisdom…

Have a great week!

Carol

How Green can One Become?

15 Mar

I have been an advocate of recycling for most of my life – having grown up in Canada where it is simply a way of life.  There was never a question of throwing out a beer bottle in the trash because we had paid a deposit on its use (10 cents a bottle) which you got back when you returned it to a recycling depot.  Homeless people collected cans and bottles because they could be turned in for cash.

When I first moved to Florida 16 years ago, I remember calling the Garbage utilities and asking why the county did not have a solid recycling program – especially for glass.  “Why we dispose of our garbage in a much cleaner way than recycling, ma’am” she started, “we incinerate it!”  I was surprised by the response but took slight solace in the fact that it seemed that at least recycling had been considered.

Today, every business wants to appear earth-friendly and conservation conscious.

The “Green” movement has done much to encourage recycling, but I am still amazed at the wild consumerism we enjoy – even in times of conservative spending.  All one needs to do is to visit a thrift shop and a Wal-Mart on the same day to see just how much “stuff” feeds our consumer society.  Instead of reusing, we buy. Instead of recycling we toss. Instead of buying used, we buy new.  Second hand stores nationwide feature working used items, yet we often prefer to buy new and unused.  I wonder where all this stuff will end up.

I was reminded of the disposable mindset many of us have when I my printer broke down last week – it would scan fine, but just wouldn’t print.  When I mentioned this to a friend and noted that the printer was about 7 years old, she told me to toss the printer as it had outlasted its useful life.  “In fact, I’m lucky if I get two years out of my printers” she added.  Instead of prematurely retiring the errant printer, I called my brother who stepped me through clearing out the software print spooler.  The printer responded and I saved at least 10 pounds of trash going to the landfill.

Here’s a few ideas to become a “greener” person – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Use both sides of a sheet of paper – and create a recycle bin of one-side used paper;
  • Collect paper waste (newspaper, bulk paper, envelopes, cardboard, etc.) and take to a recycling center
  • Save clean glass jars and take to your local elementary school art class (to use while painting)
  • Use old towels to wash your car or in the garage as shop towels
  • Use the cardboard inserts from toilet paper rolls (cut in thirds) to keep soil intact for growing seedlings
  • Compost vegetable waste in a backyard container for later spreading on plants
  • Use discarded coffee grounds to enrich garden soil
  • Ask for paper bags instead of plastic at your grocery, then use them to store waste headed for the compost. (Toss the bag and waste daily onto the compost heap)

What other ideas have you found to become more “Green”? I find a bit of hope for the future when I can conserve and reuse the resources we consume. How about you?

Wishing you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Carol

Share
//

Dear Daughter, lessons from a female engineer (part 1)

21 Jan

It is amazing how life turns out… who would have guessed that growing up as the oldest of five children in Alberta, Canada that I would find myself today as a middle-aged, divorced mother of two adult children, in Florida and reinventing my career to set up the financial independence I dream of.  Even though I have spent my career in male-dominated industries, I am most proud of my children, who are living happy, healthy, and independent lives as 20’somethings in Brooklyn NY and St. Petersburg, FL.

worldMy life so far has been nothing short of extraordinary – I have enjoyed a great career as a professional speaker, author, engineer, and IT expert with two passports (US and Canadian) bulging with international stamps.  I love to travel and it has been a joy to share international and domestic business trips with my children. Over the years, they have been to Brazil, Australia, Holland, Germany, South Africa, Ireland, and India in their travels. There are so many places I still want to visit – and I hope to share future travel with family and friends. I have co-authored books with experts in Finland, Germany, the US and Australia, none of which has given me financial freedom (a 2% royalty from one book and none from the others), but provided me with great experiences.  I married too young, and moved directly from my parents’ home at 22 (it was expected in my family to live at home during college) and into a marriage.  Twenty three years and three degrees (his) later, I find myself happily divorced, but with encumbrances of a hefty refinanced mortgage, real estate downturns, medical bills, unemployment and disillusionment.  Nonetheless, today I am much more fortunate and grateful than many others around me – I have optimism, good health, and a vision of the future that includes a fully booked keynote presentation calendar for years to come. I am learning that there are many things more important than money (even though money pays bills!)

I grew up in an era when women did not go into Engineering, let alone Mechanical Engineering, and in my class of 65 ME’s at the University of Calgary, I was one of five female graduates.  I keep early lessons from growing up in Canada, relocating to the US, competing in a male-dominated field, and figuring out what life and love really is all about.  I am grateful to learn something new every day…

I read a blog yesterday by Jean Hsu on the Experience of Being a Female Software Engineer, and I realized that the more things change (technology and advances), the more they stay the same.  It made me realize that maybe you and other young women could learn from what I went through, and maybe avoid some of the missteps I made.  Hindsight is 20/20 and even though my daughter’s passion is English and Poetry, and not technology, I hold out hope that she will gain a nugget of insight somewhere in my words.

So, here goes, Dear Daughter (part 1)

Dear Daughter,

I remember growing up and wanting a daughter like you and a son like your brother, with a fairytale nuclear family, but life just does not turn out exactly as we plan.  While your father and I were not the right life partners for each other, we were together for your formative years and I hope you know that there was love – at least from my side.

I admire your strength and I envy your youth – you have an entire wonderful career and love life road out in front of you as it should be.  I remember the altruism and zest that I had at your age and I wish you all the excitement and great experiences that life can hold.

Here are a few things I have learned along the way that I hope may help you:

  • Take care of yourself first – you are the only you that will ever be. Nurture your feelings and respect your intuition because they are keys to the real you.  I taught you to take care of others first as I was taught, but if you do this, you will end up losing yourself in the process. After taking care of everyone for so many years, I found out late that no matter how much I gave to others, I was empty inside because I was not taking care of me.  It is not selfish it is good self-care.  As they say in the airlines, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others. In this way, you will survive so that you can then help others.  You deserve a great, long life.
  • Never allow anyone to impede your dreams. Safeguard your dreams from negligent, but well-meaning others who do not share your journey or passion in life.  Your dreams are yours not theirs, and no matter how much they might purport to know what is best for your life (including me) – follow your heart and your dreams.
  • Life is not fair, but you still can achieve greatness. It is still an inequitable world out there. Growing up in a male preferential family (Boys have to run out and play, girls do dishes and cook), I faced many obstacles based on gender. However, it is only a barrier if you let it be. You will face many men and women alike who will tell you that you cannot do this or that, but as long as what you are doing is not illegal or immoral, you have every right to take your place in any profession  regardless of your gender (construction, engineering, etc) – go for it!  Do not waste even one precious heartbeat on anyone who does not make a difference in your life – even if they get in your face!
  • Never make anyone a priority for who you are only an option. This was a quote on Facebook from a self-professed dating expert and while it pertains specifically to dating, it applies to all relationships.  You can avoid toxic friendships, work relationships, and heartbreak when you keep this point in focus.  If you are not good enough to be a priority in someone’s life, they should not be occupying a place of preference in yours.
  • Opportunity may come disguised as hard work or a gift horse. When I graduated from engineering school in the 1980’s, I had a few job offers extended solely because I was a female engineer.  The big oil companies needed to hire women and fast track us into management, so they made outrageously generous offers to us.  At the time, my ethics (and the influence of peers) were too high – so high in fact, that the mere suggestion that I would be perceived as getting the job immorally (people would invent rumors involving indiscretions for any female given perceived “unfair” advantage) prevented me from taking such jobs.  What a mistake! Those jobs might have given me a gender preference and put me ahead for the first few months, but I have faced far more discrimination from being female throughout my career since then.  I should have taken the opportunities at the time with a genuine thank you for the leg up.
  • Fall in love with yourself first. Self-love and self-esteem are two things you can never have too much of.  When you are healthy and happy with the person you are, you can give love freely and unconditionally to another.  With the amount of negative influence and reinforcement in western society, it takes at least a couple of independent living years to discover and accept who you really are.  Only now am I discovering and unconditionally accepting the true me, and it is a pleasant surprise. It was naïve of me to think that anyone else could love me as unconditionally as I deserve to love myself.
  • You are always worth it! You are unique, complete and perfect just the way you are. You do not have to change for someone else.  If you want to change, do it for you because it is you who must live with the changed you no matter what.   If someone wants you to be someone else (to please them) they do not deserve you.
  • You deserve to be loved unconditionally. You will find that if you wait for the right person it is worth more than if you settle for the first person you fall in love with. Red flags include having to couch your words (in fear of another’s response), unwillingness to do things alone, having to give up your friends in favor of theirs.  Life is too short to be with someone who does not love you for you.
  • Smile – a lot. A smile is the most inexpensive and powerful thing you can give to a stranger or friend.  You never know who will be affected positively by this simple random act of kindness.
  • Always be yourself. If you spend your life being someone else, you are depriving the world of the wonderful you.
  • Keep your girlfriends for life. Life can be lonely when things are tough.  There is no substitute for empathetic girlfriends who accept you just the way you are.  Your friends will outlast boyfriends and husbands. Never take them for granted or ditch them for a “boy” — they deserve your respect and will always be there when the boy is long gone.
  • Pursue your passion. A coach told me just this week to keep two things in mind for your career:

1. Choose a profession where you like the people in it (if you don’t trust lawyers, don’t become one); and

2. Choose an industry that has money to pay you.

He recommended that I get out of the business now, because only #1 is true.  The IT field has great people, but with rare exceptions they do not pay their conference speakers.  I have a choice to leave the business (I am not making enough money) or stay and go broke.  I love to speak to large audiences and would happily represent a company on a speaking or conference circuit, but my current business model is not working.  It is never too late to reinvent yourself.

Pursue your dreams, be yourself, and never be afraid to feel what you feel.  The present is the best gift you can ever give yourself, and is only rivaled by the joy that you have brought to my life.

I love you,

Mom

Share
//

Will work for…

12 Jan

I know that it takes fortitude to ask for support.

I don’t know about you, but the new millennium is strange:  everything I grew up to expect in life is upside down; jobs are not guaranteed, home ownership is no longer an investment, the middle class is shrinking, and homelessness is no longer the domain of a few downtrodden souls.  Here in Florida, the number of unemployed continues to rise monthly (Florida leads the nation in both unemployment statistics and real estate devaluation) and I am thankful to have a roof over my head.

While there are buskers who pretend along with others who may not deserve a handout, the benefit of the doubt has graced people I’ve seen with signs or an open hand.  Maybe it’s my upbringing, but I find it difficult to pass by without giving them something.  I often think “There but for the grace of God, go I,” were it not for good luck and education.

Have you seen how creative some of the signs have become?  It seems that today even the homeless compete for dollars (did you see the story about the New York person whose sign “Need money to buy weed” brings in close to $500 per shift?)  This was not the society I was raised to inherit – yet I find that there is little security today.  Here at the crossroads of mid-life, neither friends nor I wasted away savings or quit jobs; we are challenged because of downsizing and business cuts.  Do you see the same things occurring where you live?

As a young engineer who graduated in the 1980’s,

I was fortunate to have job choices and options – there were more jobs than applicants!  For years, I could move freely between jobs progressively up the ladder.  It was also easy to start my business in 1994 and to make a profitable living.  I had no idea how lucky I was then or over the next six years when I was able to support a freelance team of 5 people.  I kept my team gainfully employed with generous salaries for several years and life was good.  During this time, I could have advised other young women on how to build a profitable business easily and quickly — even though my secret was that I was in a niche and high demand market.

Since then, life has changed – business changed and contracts slowed, and today my clients want short-term (less than a week at a time)  project management and software metrics training.  I deliver high energy knowledge transfer in my speaking and consulting engagements, but the work “pipeline” remains low.  It is frustrating to have good health, an excellent reputation and skills, yet have open blocks in my calendar.  When I look at who I was with a highly successful business and who I am today, I am the same person of high integrity, but with more experience, credentials, and compassion.

Finding contracts online or via job boards is no longer a reality as anyone with a computer and a mouse can click their way to applying for technical jobs.  The key to finding work today is through connections – successful job seeking is based on who you know not what you know.

So, it is with humility that I say “will work for…”

I definitely need more speaking engagements and contract work!  Will you help me by referring me to your superiors, colleagues, and friends when you hear that they need a speaker or an instructor for their upcoming event?   I speak on topics ranging from project management to making technology a success to software measurement. In addition, I can be a spokesperson for your company at conferences to bring traffic back to the trade show floor.  My fees are reasonable and I am willing to travel internationally.

Recently my keynote speeches included the International Project Management Association Global Congress (Nov 2010 in Istanbul Turkey) and the International Function Point Users Group annual conference (Sept 2010 in Sao Paulo Brazil).  I deliver workshops on software measurement and quality topics throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Over the past 10 years, I have spoken in  25 countries including Asia, Australia, and South Africa.

Thank you in advance for your leads and kind help. My passion is speaking and consulting — I work best with companies who want to improve their business with technology. Please me email (dekkers@qualityplustech.com) or visit my other blog at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com for more information.

Thank you, I am grateful for readers like you.
Carol

websites: http://www.caroldekkers.com and http://www.qualityplustech.com


Share
//

Science and positive thinking… proof or poof?

4 Jan

For years I’ve read about the Power of Positive Thinking (along the lines of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale) and The Secret (the Law of Attraction), and I’ve seen how envisioning the future can become reality – it worked when I moved to the U.S. from Canada in the mid-1990’s and my business soared.

Lately, however, I have found that no matter how much I put into positive thinking and visioning, the results just do not seem to manifest in the same way as they once did. I can envision my future state with financial prosperity, abundant love, health, and the level of career success I want.  I can feel this future state with every sense of my being — and yet what worked to create reality does not seem to work today (or maybe I am more impatient as I get older).

While I understand that the subconscious and the universe manifests creation at its own pace (and not mine), I find it frustrating when I do not see any discernible change or progress towards my vision.  Given my engineering background, you may not be surprised that I would like some scientific proof that this positive thinking and energy is working.

In hindsight, 2010 was a mediocre year and I am grateful for my speaking engagements and new opportunities, but also frustrated that my consulting schedule was not chock full or that I made more progress towards financial freedom.  It can be tough to stay positive in a down economy and a dog-eat-dog world — you may have felt the same way in 2010.

Feeling frustrated with a lack of solid signs of progress, I was elated to come across the following video excerpt (from the documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?” whereby a Japanese scientist Dr. Masuru Emoto has established a direct relationship between positive thinking energy and the formation of complex and elaborate water crystals exposed to it.  (I don’t know for certain if this is fact or fiction.)

The narrative explains that because our bodies are composed of over 60% water, positive thoughts will result in positive changes in our overall water-based physiology.  What do you think?

Is this scientific proof that positive thinking can immediately and positively affect our well-being – or is it an airy-fairy fictionalized stretch of someone’s imagination?

Watch the video (it’s less than 3 minutes long) and let me know what YOU think…

For me, this is immediate and positive proof that staying upbeat and optimistic (even when times are tough) can deliver immediate and positive results.  Even if it is Hollywood hocus-pocus it gives credence and power to my ongoing visioning and gives me hope that my tomorrows will be fruitful in the ways that my visions depict.

Have a great week!

p.s., I am seeking speaking opportunities worldwide for 2011 so if you hear of anyone needing a great speaker, please refer me and ask them to email me (dekkers@qualityplustech.com).

p.p.s., in 2011, I am clearing off my bookshelves and taking at least one book a week off the shelf to share with you. This week it is Zig Ziglar’s “See you at the Top”.  I will report on its high points and give you a short review later this week.

Regards,

Carol


Share

%d bloggers like this: