Tag Archives: choices

Seeing the world through broken glass… waking up to 20/20 vision

10 May

Do you ever feel like you’ve wasted heartbeats living your life based on what others tell you is true (using guilt, conditional love, coercion, religion, shame, and downright lies) instead of creating the life you want?

I don’t know about your story, but I am slowly realizing that the “fill in the blank” projections of what others told me I need to be (you should be more – fill in the blank; you are way too – fill in the blank; what will other people think of you because of – fill in the blank) are so distorted as to be laughable.  And none of them are true!

My parochial, strict upbringing followed by a quarter century of “love” with a bonafide narcissist, can only be compared to practitioners testing your eyes, prescribing corrective glasses, smashing the lenses, and then forcing you to wear them (with physical and emotional threats) so that you can “see the world properly.”  (Translation: see the world as they do.) 

I must be a slow learner, but only recently did I wake up to see that people from my past would build themselves up by putting me down.   My psyche suffered years of anguish and guilt because I believed the distortions I saw through broken glass.  The perps got to feel superior, earned big financial wins, and were largely successful in squelching my spirit.

After a lifetime of words and insistence that I will never be good enough (for the world), I realize that this is simply not true.  Moreover, I am discovering that I never needed “glasses” to see the world properly in the first place – my perceptive vision is (and was) 20/20.

While my realizations are mostly an inside job, they were bolstered recently by several acquaintances whose words rang true.  Maybe they spoke out because they weren’t looking for personal gain, I don’t know, but I am grateful for what they told me (positive words.)

20/20 vision in comparison…

What makes these words different from the past? They resonate with what my soul knows to be true:  I am a loveable, kind, generous (to a fault), attractive, intelligent, passionate, sensitive, empathetic, and exciting person who has much to give.  (If you already know this about yourself, I congratulate you for discovering it earlier than I!)

My heart sees (and feels) that the positive words are true, but hearing positive words (with insistence) is so rare that I had to have them repeat them.  Even now, it takes an effort to overcome the negative reflections from the past and accept that the love I’ve known was conditional to me being someone I am not.

I now know that my eyesight about the world (and myself) started out fine, but got derailed through emotional attachment to people whose love hinged on me being someone else.  Wearing the broken glasses to please them ended up distorting my vision of the world, of myself, of where I fit in the world.  At times when I glimpsed an uncorrected vision (and liked it!) – chiding would remind me that they knew me better than I knew myself. I believed that love was conditional on me seeing the world as they did. (I still believe that is true, but now I no longer care!)

Today, I love myself (I know that I am loveable) and that is all that matters. I see the world as I see it and the Royal We (me, myself and I) are happy.

Burying the past…except for the Zombies

What distortions came about with the corrected vision?  I heard over and over (by more than one person) that I was too sensitive, too abrasive, took things personally, was not talented enough, unattractive (and reminded that vanity is the work of the devil!), boring, assertive, unlikeable, a bad communicator, a poor mother, had broken intuition and I was downright unlovable.  (The latter point made it easy to convince me that I would never find anyone who could ever truly love me and I was lucky to have found said person!  No wonder I’ve been a people pleaser!)

One would think that it should be easy to bury the broken glasses today.  Unfortunately, people from my past try to prevent me from doing so.  Family members insist that I am doomed to eternal damnation because I don’t adhere to their religious edicts (not my truth).  The narcissist continues to contacts my friends to be his friend (and they call me to say “WTF is his problem!”)  Others continue to try to get me back (to benefit them) years after I stopped the relationships.  I guess that’s the nature of controlling, broken glass relationships – a controller needs someone to control.

20/20 vision is incredible!

Living in integrity (treating myself the way that I treat my best friends) is my truth.  My intuition celebrates that I trust that my perceptions are true (undistorted) and believe that I deserve love.   I am at peace with who I am (and who my friends know).  This makes for a satisfying life of self-love, mutual friendship, and trust in oneself.  It’s finally nice to know that my vision was 20/20 all along.

Have a great week!

Carol

Are Women the Worst (Workplace) Bullies?

3 May

Last week, Forbes published an interesting article titled: Why Women are the Worst Kind of Bullies:

What do YOU think?  My first reaction was:

Charlie Brown’s Lucy (or worse)… in the workplace

If you grew up in North America, you are probably familiar with the cartoon character “Lucy” from the Charlie Brown series.  Lucy would run roughshod over her “frenemies” and friends,  coddle up to her crush Shroeder, and generally disregard the feelings of anyone in her path (especially Charlie Brown, who she would ridicule and torment with endless promises to hold the football!)  Lucy was so ignorant of her own hostility that she even appoints herself the go-to problem solver with her “The Doctor is In” lemonade stand. (No matter, Lucy was still a bully.)

The topic of bullies is front and center these days thanks to the philanthropic efforts of Lady Gaga and Oprah at Harvard, the recent release of the documentary “Bully“, and a rise of suicides linked to cyber-bullying.  But bullying is not confined to schools – in fact, workplace bullying traditionally has been categorized and addressed as sexual harassment, if at all.  Adult bullying can take many forms such as narcissistic bosses (see my post: Walking on Eggshells – Source of Back Pain?), harassment, group think (pressure to conform to the wishes of the group), and biases against minorities/gender/age, etc.  The article in Forbes cites a much more insidious, everyday situation of workplace bullying where women don’t just usurp other women, but can even create hazards and obstacles for others.

It’s not a “Catfight”…

As a female, mechanical engineer by training, and an IT consultant and international speaker by experience, my career has not been traditional.  While it is common knowledge that men are intimidated by strong, confident women when it comes to relationships (I am seldom asked out by professional, single men), it is less frequent in the workplace.  When it is, I have found that in a male-dominated, professional workplace there is a direct and honest response – either the team embraces professional women or they do not.  Seldom when men are involved do I have to “guess” whether I can fit in and be productive.  At this point in my career, I have a name and a solid reputation in my industry, so I find that men will typically accept (and sometimes even celebrate) me on a team and see the positive contribution (there are exceptions of course!)

Stereotypically, it has not been the same situation with women who are on par or above my level – and that has been a source of confusion and at times, “shock and awe”.  In some professional (and more often in personal) situations, same aged women, on the surface, have welcomed me with open arms offering their friendship and help, then reached behind to stab me in the back, and in the process they never stopped smiling.  Sometimes it’s no wonder that men do not understand – I do not understand and I’m a woman!

It is a strange thing… granted, men and women everywhere will step on and use others to get ahead (is it human nature or nurture?) – but the behavior is different.  Men will more often attack head on, directly and consistently; there is no question about their intentions or offensive behavior.  Predictable, consistent, stab you in the chest.  I can accept that and take action to avoid the pain.

What is more difficult to deal with is the in-your-face-nice girl accompanied by the reach-behind-your-back to stab you behavior that women (again stereotypically) use on other women.  While we women are confounded to make sense of female-on-female treatment by our own gender, men often trivialize the behavior as a “Catfight” (thereby marginalizing it as hormones raging out of control.)  There is far more to the behavior than meets the eye, and it is an area undergoing frequent research (with few answers!)

When I look ahead to my daughter in the workplace, I realize that technology advances have not changed the human interactions (in fact they create less face to face communication).  Our workplace and human relations are really not much different today than 30 years ago.  Given my experiences, I posted several articles which may be of interest:

And I found several other interesting posts from others:

And of course, the recent maelstrom of frenzied activity stemming from the UK Mail post:

The question: “Why are females mean to other females?” is today either avoided or hotly debated, but the fact remains that the situation won’t simply go away by marginalizing it as “Catty behavior” or ignoring it all together.

As women, we have enough to deal with in life being parents, co-workers, survivors of the economy, caregivers, neighbors, significant others, and just plain noble citizens without having to watch out for other women gunning to get us!

In the words of Rodney King (the focus of the LA Riots 20 years ago) – Can’t we just get along?

Finding a good team of like-minded people!

I am fortunate to now be a part of a wonderful team at QSM, Inc. with confident, powerful, assertive women who are not intimidated or jealous of other professional women.  Our multi-disciplinary, gender balanced team is forward thinking and definitely supportive of each other.  I am blessed to say I’m on the same team with several high-powered, direct, accomplished, and supportive women – it is a dream come true!

The Way Forward…

I believe that women need to learn to start supporting other women, and we need to stop stereotyping men as the culprits to the bullying phenomenon.

It reminds me of the situation regarding minority cultures who point to other cultures and races as the source of their problems (that they cannot solve), when the answers realistically lie with working within their own community to create solutions.

This brings to mind the saying popularized by the Pogo cartoon:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

As popular self-help gurus point out, when you point a finger at another, there are four fingers pointing straight back at you!  As women and mothers, I believe that we need to start a movement (even a movement of one!) that nurtures, boosts, and supports other women – at home, work, and everywhere.   Such a movement of women (and supportive men) would take our country and our workplaces into a brighter future!

Today, take the first step to say a kind word to another – you just never know what that might lead to (especially if that person met a bully only moments before!)

Have a great week,

Carol

Shortcuts and half-baked solutions

2 May

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wow!  Incredibly powerful words from decades ago – yet they have never been more true than today!  Whether in business or in personal affairs, no one seems to value hard work, persistence, or thinking these days.  Relationships are disposable, communication is impersonal (with text-message soundbites), governments look for the quick fix, corporations value capitalism over people, and shortcuts are the norm rather than the exception.

I don’t know about you, but my email inbox seems to attract an ever-increasing barrage of spam – most offering “get rich while you sleep” schemes – and it makes me wonder who is actually working while all of these salesmen are busy promoting.  At tax time (April 15), the Tampa Bay Times featured a front page article showing the latest scam where scammers submit fraudulent tax returns (using social security numbers of dead people) to “earning” an average of $9000. per return.  None of the offenders feared the IRS and they were proud of their endeavors.  Sheesh, what is our society coming to when someone’s 15 minutes of fame comes at a heavy expense to all of us?

Several months ago, the same paper profiled citizens among us vacationing on proceeds their insurance company paid out for sink hole claims for repairs never made.  Both stories highlighted the shortcuts that cost taxpayers millions.

Yet there are millions of other smaller shortcuts to fame and fortune and half-baked scams happening everyday all around us.

Why do we accept (and settle for) short cuts and half-baked solutions in life today? 

The first step to realization is to look at our behavior (before we look at others.)  Why do we take shortcuts or live with half-baked solutions to what ails us?  Probably because it is easier, less work, less stress, and comes with less risk of failure (and rework) to do the least possible.  This allows us to save our energy for things that “really matter” later.  As a result of not doing our best, we are dissatisfied with the results from ourselves or others.

Moreover, when we do do our best, people may not appreciate it, so why bother to spend extra effort?  When we look around, if everyone else takes shortcuts, why shouldn’t we?  The answer is that, in the process, we shortchange ourselves, our children (who learn by example), and our community.

We can see the results of our shortcuts and half-baked solutions everywhere: products don’t last like they used to; quality is down;  expectations are down; product failures are up; and morale goes awry. In the banking crisis, banking professionals bet against their own customers to pursue profits, got away with it, and even got a bonus bailout for their efforts.  No wonder our children seek shortcuts in everything they do.

The Buck has to stop somewhere…why not with us?

When we start to fully perform our work, invest in relationships (they take work), take time to do things right the first time (instead of half-baked), and insist on the same from others, our world (and morale) will improve. The America of yesteryear was filled with innovation, invention, progress, hope and dreams; hard work and integrity prevailed.

I envision a future where I can look back and be proud that I put the effort in to “fully bake” solutions – at least for my life.  How about you?

Wishing you a success-filled week.

Carol

Celebrities among us…

23 Apr

This past weekend I attended a “wrap party” for a local film festival where a smattering of celebrities graced the event and gained local entourage and special treatment.  It must be life as normal for the celebrities who hailed from Hollywood, New York and elsewhere, but for local Florida residents, it was a chance to rub shoulders with some more rich and famous.

I came to be at this event by assisting with coordination and on site logistics and I greeted guests as they arrived at the event.  I am not one to fawn over celebrities (or even recognize less famous ones) so it was interesting to watch others who did. I believe that everyone, no matter their rank or whether they are  peers, strangers, or celebrities, deserve the same level of respect and courtesy (unless they violate that right).  But, this is not a universal stance.

I found it interesting to watch as various actors arrived with large entourage (who walked dutifully behind them) and who expected (and received) special treatment.  It seemed a bit excessive to see “herds” of ten or more being led into the event. (Sheep came to mind…)

At one point, a group of four drunken baseball fans showed up without passes and expected to waltz off the street and be admitted  as if the party was theirs. Without credentials or passes, they grudgingly left.  Two returned later after befriending an actor smoking on the sidewalk, and felt justified in waltzing in as his new best friends.

Who (and what) makes a Celebrity?

In the field of acting or sports – normal human beings are raised to icon-status with outrageous salaries and fame.  From relative obscurity they are catapulted into fame and fortune – with often more luck than stellar ability, and their meteoric rise often falls equally fast. Yet, their claim to fame (for however long) lies with what our society values and holds in high esteem entertainment as a chosen career, over and above professions or occupations that make a difference to others.   We seldom see doctors, health care workers or teachers (whose impact can be far greater than entertainment value) elevated to any sort of “special” status.

Everyday celebrities…

If one stopped to view life as a series of adventures and survival experiences, more of us and the people in our lives would become celebrities, and that might be good.  In my books, everyone who succeeds through life (through the good, the bad, and the ugly) deserves the same respect, honorable treatment, courtesy, love, and decency that award to celebrity.  We ought to be celebrating (and “celebritizing”) everyone when they succeed in life.

Celebrities are all around us – take a look at all the parents, caregivers, workers, friends and colleagues who choose to make a difference, yet whose lives are normal, everyday, and without fanfare.  Would it not make sense to spread the celebrity status around (and maybe gratitude?)

What do you think?  Can you think of someone you know who might deserve a bit of celebrity status today?

Have a good week.

Carol

No man is an island or is s/he?

9 Apr
A weekly newsletter I receive opened with the following quote today:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the mainJohn Donne 1572-1631.
The writer, John Chappelear, continued “To me, Donne’s well-remembered phrase means I am but a part of the greater whole. It reminds me, I do not live alone, I do not work alone and I do not succeed alone.”
I thought about this analogy in the context of how life literally ebbs and flows, is constantly changing, and moves us between states (physically, emotionally, and mentally) all the time.
So much of life is an “inside job” based on what we feel, think, perceive, and see through our six senses (intuition being the sixth).  If we are fortunate enough to have built up a teflon exterior we can pretty much sail through life unscathed regardless of any storms or obstacles that land in our way, or how others treat us.
Island Living can be a Luxury…
The concept of “no man is an island” being a negative construct is an interesting one.  I meet more and more people who may not be literal islands, but their life is one of remoteness – and most of them, like me, are in mid-life.
If we take the analogy one step further, earth is made up of seven continents (is that right?, my geography classes were long ago so I could be wrong) and thousands of islands.  While most people live on the main continents and many move freely between them, there are thousands (maybe even millions) who live on islands – some in very secluded areas, who survive, thrive, and are valuable contributors to the world.
Sometimes I feel like I am one of them, partly by choice, partly by circumstance.  Read on…
Just as life relocates us across continents (states of being – successful, in transition, moving forward or back, happy/sad/grieving/excited/etc.), I believe it sometimes also can move us to a remote island where we are the sole occupant, just to see if we can handle being alone.
The Treadmill can be Temporary
After a lifetime spent figuratively living on a crowded continent where alone time was rare (growing up with four siblings, then raising a young family, supporting a husband who was constantly in school, supporting siblings and parents who needed emotional support, working full-time, and meeting the needs of friends), I find that I am now living on a remote island – and I am getting used to it.
I am not sure if I want to be on this island forever, but I am finding that “island living” is not as bad as city dwellers might think.
Even though I work alone and spend a lot of time alone (my children are now grown, I am divorced, and I will no longer tolerate energy vampires as friends), it is high quality time in the company of the Royal We (me, myself and I).  While it can be isolating, and even lonely at times, it is also refreshing.  I never had the luxury of time in the past to really get to know the Royal We, and I have to tell you, I really am learning to love their company!
Contact with the “mainland”
Through the internet, I stay in contact with a global community of friends (who have never lived in the same country as me), and do most of my client work remotely.  Sometimes I even miss the energy vampires and toxic friends who treated me poorly in the past (and yes, I tolerated it), but it is getting easier and easier when I can look out my window (literally) and see dolphins frolicking in the bay outside.
Life is never fair, never perfect, never exactly as we would plan for ourselves, but” man” can be an island in and of himself at times, for a duration.  That does not have to be “bad”.
I believe if we changed our collective attitude about independence and self-reliance, we might become a more tolerant society.  If
more people took time to disconnect, withdraw, take a retreat from life to get to know the real, wonderful s/he, we would collectively discover that the “Royal We” are pretty darn good just the way we are.
What do you think?
Have a great week!
Carol

Fear is a four letter (F) word…

27 Mar

Fear plays a huge part in society today, and our public media knows that creating a frenzy based on fear sells newspapers, increases advertising and makes millions!  Globally, fear is a part of almost every society – and it motivates governments, countries, groups and people to take often irrational actions.  Fear is a scary thing!

Pick up any newspaper or listen in on conversations and you’ll find an increasing (and sometimes irrational) list of fears around us.  It is amazing that we get anything done when this mountain of fears are waiting to block our way:

  • Fear of terrorism (globally – and “we” are not necessarily on the friendly side worldwide);
  • Fear of God and eternal damnation (the religious right think they “know” the future);
  • Fear of differences (the Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and Bisexuals know this more than others);
  • Fear of the unknown (what if the world ends on December 2);
  • Fear of what we think we know (we believe too much of what we read on the internet);
  • Fear of the past repeating itself (which can paralyze us from taking a change on new things);
  • Fear of new experiences (what if I don’t like it);
  • Fear for our children (what will the world be like in 30 years);
  • Fear of change (this one is wide open!);
  • Fear of turning into our parents;
  • Fear of being alone (how can I live without him/her even though it is bad);
  • Fear of being lonely (will I ever finding true “love”);
  • Fear of not being alone (or being stuck in a bad relationship);
  • Fear of losing our house or job or security;
  • Fear of the future (what if’s);
  • Fear of other religions (we do not understand);
  • Fear of other cultures (how can they live like that);
  • Fear of losing face (what will the neighbors/family/friends think);
  • Fear of loss/gains/failure/success;
  • What fears could you add to this list?

I could go on and on with the phobias and fears in daily life, but there is one item missing on this list:

  • Fear of the four letter “F” word: FEAR !

I believe that so many people feel they live a life that is out of control (and dominated by factors they have nothing to do with), that fear moves in.   By seeking and needing to control aspects of our life that we do not, we sometimes allow (or even create) fear to paralyze us and become the excuse that we don’t take action. Sometimes we even use fear to rationalize our irrational behavior!

Moving forward from our past…

Certainly, our experience plays a big part in our present fear – we want to avoid repeating behaviors that caused us pain in the past – but that is like driving forward by looking in the rear view mirror.  When we are soaring over the cliff (we were not watching for the “bridge out sign” ahead of us), we reassure ourselves that at least we were not rear-ended.

I believe that Fear is a Four Letter “F” Word that has no place in an optimistic vocabulary or our psyche.  Maybe we ought to start to ‘wash out our mouths’ for using this four letter F word?  It simply does us little good, and furthermore it clouds our judgment.

If I allowed my past together with fear to decide my future, I would never go out with another man, I would never trust another friend, I would never move to a foreign land, I would stop trying and dreaming and hoping… and that would be, frankly, irrational!

For me, the only way forward in life is to face my fears like the same way I would confront a bully – with strength, determination, and sheer guts.  My hopes, dreams, thoughts and life is too important (to me) to allow a little four letter F word to run amok.

Have a good week!

Carol

Childlike is not Childish…

26 Mar

What a joy it is to watch confident children under the age of 10 at playgrounds or at social events!  They make new friends quickly, are color-blind (to race and gender), approach adults with sincerity, are uninhibited, and look at the future with wonder.

When I take my 8-year-old granddaughter out to a playground or the beach, it amazes me how quickly she makes new friends with other children.  There is no judgment, no hesitation, no sizing up of the other -a simple sharing of time, energy and fun for the duration.  It is nice to see children who are color-blind (not sensitive to racial differences) and gender neutral playing together as fast friends.

Somehow, between childhood and the teen years, we lose this trait of accepting others at face value, replacing it with judgment, scorn, racism, sexism and “society” rules that keep us from easily mixing with people we don’t already know.

It also amazes me to see how freely children will dance to music – they seldom care whether anyone is watching or judging their moves.  Somehow we gain so many inhibitions when we grow into adulthood. Inhibitions stick with us for a lifetime – at least until we are so old we no longer care.

Any newspaper I pick up (globally) is filled with stories about disagreement and hate in today’s world, and I long for and wonder what happened to the children we were yesterday.  Can you remember what it was like to be uninhibited and free of judgment? Can you imagine what our world would be like if adults were more childlike and could accept each other at face value?  Racism, sexism, ageism, and other biases are learned behaviors – can you imagine how incredible life could be if we fostered acceptance instead of discrimination?

We need more childlike behaviors in our world today (not the childish ones we so often see).  What do you think?

Just food for thought on the first Monday of spring.

Have a good week,

Carol

%d bloggers like this: