Tag Archives: Leadership

Undeniable – our DNA tells the story of humanity and life…

31 Jan

No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the images of the grown American man crying at the airport because his brother who had finally received his LEGAL, BONA-FIDE, permanent resident green card (after years of vetting and background checks) was detained at the airport.  It was heart-breaking and moved me to tears.  Without bringing politics or partisanship into play, I feel for anyone who faces rejection for any reason.  That’s just who I am… (and I’ve personally been through the visa, green card and citizenship road – it takes years of poking, prodding, investigation, interviews, background checks, more investigation, more interviews, vetting, etc. – it is certainly not a slam dunk, passport stamp process!)

I am optimistically hopeful with the new USA administration, and I am also cautiously concerned about some of the sweeping rhetoric and views expressed by elected officials with “we, the people’s” best interests in mind.  I hope that calm heads prevail and that kindness and sanity become our moniker!  America is and was great… period.

As someone who is not a Native American Indian, I am among the 99% of Americans who immigrated to this country.  I am not ashamed to say that an IMMIGRANT and if you are American and reading this, so are YOU (most likely!)

I love the people, the ambition, the open-mindedness, and overall savoir faire attitude and freedom.

I am also learning that history repeats itself (and not always in a good way…)

Last year I visited the National Archives in Washington, DC where the historical documents dating back hundreds of years are preserved and displayed.  I took particular note of turn of the century (early 1900’s) manuscripts and documents authored by immigrants (who were now in power in the U.S.) who cast laws to prevent immigration of their own people  (at the time I think it was Italians, in particular) — just a handful of years later.

I was bewildered by the fact that these men felt justified to enter the country as foreigners through Ellis Island (and obviously, in their opinion, they were good, upstanding, worthy of entry, people) and just a few years later, judged their own countrymen as scoundrels with ill-intent.  I’m still perplexed how power and money changes people. (I still smile at lawmakers who judge the unemployed as “lazy” until they, themselves are unemployed…)

It is interesting how inclusion of ourselves is important, but exclusion of others (who are exactly us – just separated by time) prevail when it’s no longer us who are directly affected.

How easy it is to judge and make rules when they don’t affect us personally.  I agree that we need to keep the “bad people” out of our country (as should any country!) – it’s just common sense, and…

I am also disturbed and concerned that we continue to repeat our history, instead of learning from it (I am intimately familiar with this trend of “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” in software development!  But, that’s another story…)  There has to be a better way.

DNA doesn’t lie and we are all connected as humanity…

I’d like to share this video with you simply for your comments and consideration.  It brings me to tears every time I watch it, so I’m just leaving it here…

Comments?  Wishing you a peaceful, happy, optimistic and uplifting day, week, year!

Love, C

Living up to Expectations

10 Oct

I’ve been really disappointed lately, but I realize that the disappointment stems from my unrealistic expectation of others.

“Expectation” is an innocuous word according to dictionary.com:

1.the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation.
2.the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
3.an expectant  mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
4.something expected;  a thing looked forward to.
5.Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.
It’s all very subjective, yet cleanly defined.
In reality, expectations are far more elusive and laden with emotional impact.  When others “expect” something of us, it is based solely on their perspective, their longing, their wish for what or who they want you to be.  Yet, seldom are these expectations stated or expressed and the person who projects his/her expectations on others is often disappointed.  When you consider that it is utterly impossible to read another’s mind (where expectations reside) – it is no wonder that expectations go unmet!

I know someone…

who often is deeply disappointed in others because they expect a “basic level of behavior” (their words) based solely on their judgment of such.  This person is a thoughtful, considerate, put others first type of person for whom I have a great deal of respect.  It is difficult to watch this person continually lament over how others behave – all because the expectation of behavior is seldom met.  She just doesn’t realize that others work from a different set of basic rules of life.
Realizing just how impossible it is for others to live up to this person’s expectations (“common, basic respect” in her words) made me realize just how utterly failure prone we make ourselves when we project our expectations on others – and how disappointed we continue to be.
In the words of don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, “Agreement #2 – Never take anything personally…”  When we project OUR expectations on others, we normally do not tell them what these expectations include, nor do we give them a chance to defend whatever actions offend/disappoint us.
As a result, we end up thinking “How could that person be so rude to me? (They probably never realized that they were rude) or “How could they not ask me how I AM doing? All we talked about was them…” (The others probably didn’t notice their apparent self-centeredness.)
The key to feeling happy around others is to have few expectations (if any!) of others, and let life flow!  Instead of being disappointed that someone you were hoping would call didn’t – take matters into your own hands and call them when they don’t “deliver” to your expectations.  Often there is a good explanation for their “lapse” – most notably that they didn’t have any idea that you expected them to act a particular way.
Keep expectations for yourself – and then try to live up to those, instead of imposing them on others.

I used to expect a lot from other people…

– courtesy, respect, love, reciprocity, – all of the valors I grew up to think were part of the adult world.
Today, I’ve relaxed and redefined most of my former expectations – my new definition of respect is one where people don’t DISrespect me.  Love, I’ve learned is primarily conditional and never ever can be expected.  I used to expect unconditional love from loved ones (especially family) which is simply non-existent.  One cannot conjure up love from others – only for and  by oneself.
Reciprocity, I now know is a bonus – you can be nice and giving for your part, but that doesn’t mean that others will necessarily react in kind.  Others  follow their own path, not yours – which may not even consider reciprocity as an action.
Courtesy (especially “common courtesy” such as opening doors for people, giving up one’s metro seat for elderly, etc.) has been redefined for the 21st Century (at least based on behaviors in Florida!)  One person’s courtesy is another person’s great surprise – it is always a matter of subjectivity.

Expectations— only of yourself…

Today, I expect respect, courtesy, unconditional love, and reciprocity ONLY from myself.  Anticipating that anyone else would bestow these same behaviors on me is no longer part of my outlook.  Relying on my own resources to meet (and often exceed) my expectations has been wonderfully successful.

Maybe this would work for you too?

Have a great week!

Carol

Is anything “real” these days?

6 Sep

 

 

The internet has spawned an “International Attention Crisis” where people worldwide are addicted to constant (24×7) updates and instant gratification by social media, email, voice mail, and other “indirect” (i.e., non-face-to-face) contact with others.

 

Walk into any restaurant, bar, coffee shop, or even car, these days and you’ll seldom find anyone to talk to – in person that is – and you’ll find the same with everyone else.  It’s as if we’ve all become zombie slaves to our electronic connection tools.

 

Sometimes I wonder if there is really any communication happening in person today… except on reality TV shows where fantasy and reality blend seamlessly to convince us that non-communication in our homes and personal lives is okay.

 

Tell me what is real and what is fantasy in these situations:

 

– People sitting at the same table in a restaurant or bar (who are in-person friends) all texting others who are not there;

 

– Drivers in cars watching their smart phone screens instead of traffic all around them;

 

– Children who text their parents from their rooms instead of walking into the same room to talk;

 

– Facebook members who brag about having 5000+ “friends” when research proves that the human mind can accommodate a mere 150-or so friend relationships;

 

– People who call out or disrespect others using Facebook because they lack the guts to communicate directly;

 

– Unlimited texting is more popular than unlimited talk on cell phones;

 

– Twitter is replacing email systems as the preferred method for some corporate communications;

 

– When you meet someone they ask you if you are on Facebook or Twitter before they ask for your phone number or other contact information;

 

– People know you by your photo on social media and don’t recognize you in person;

 

– Interactive voice recognition (IVR) computer systems block access to real people when you need help desk support – sometimes there is no possible way to reach a live human being who can solve your problem;

 

– The only way to bypass circular menu systems and reach a live person at banks or cell phone providers is to say “Cancel service”;

 

– When people say “I’ll call you right back” it usually means they are bored of talking to you and will often text instead of calling back;

 

– “Events” from Facebook or social media fill out your social calendar where you mingle with mostly people you don’t care to meet again;

 

– Life becomes more isolated, more self-reliant, more independent, and less connected (even though it seems you are ultra-connected!)

 

Perhaps it is a sign that I am getting old, but I long for the days gone by when people went to restaurants and bars to meet and mingle rather than post photos and check-in on Facebook.  I’d like to go out “with” people who are not tethered, have a real date with a guy who isn’t constantly checking his email, and have good conversation with friends who are truly interested in my life and vice versa.

 

While it does happen from time to time, the reality is that nothing that was real yesterday (true communication, compassion, connection, and genuine interest) is real today.  Technology is supposed to be a communication “enabler” but I’m wondering just what kind of “enabling” it is really doing to our life today.

 

Is anything (or anyone) real these days or are we all living in the fantasy of virtual communication?

 

Wishing you genuine connections with real-life people!

 

Carol

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day – be a Mother to Yourself!

13 May
Mother's Day card

Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It might sound a bit circular to you to suggest that you be a mother to yourself – but I believe that most mothers (no matter how wonderful) fall short of being the nurturing, caring, unconditionally caring mother we all need to get us through life.

Through this blog and in everyday interactions, I hear stories that range from mothers who are exceptionally giving and accepting to downright bitches on steroids who poison every person they meet.  We cannot choose our mothers, but we can choose how they affect our adult life (or at least we can try!)

Just as I believe in the Type Y management theory (most people will do the best job they can given the knowledge and education at hand) versus the Type X (people innately need to be micro-managed or they will cheat and do the least) – I believe that most mothers (and fathers) do the best job they can given their knowledge and education about parenting. (Of course there are exceptions – we read about them in the daily press or see them on Reality TV!)

Because today is Mother’s Day in North America, I’d like to focus on mothers (and the same wisdom can apply to being a father to yourself!)

What We Need from Mothers

Childhood memories might not be as distant to you as they are to me, but no doubt the good, bad, and the ugly of childhood sticks with us all.  We all bear the wonders (and the baggage) of growing up and I venture to guess that no matter where or when you grew up, it was not all honey and roses (if it was, then I applaud you for an ideal childhood or a selective memory!)

What would the ideal mother give? Here is my “laundry list”:

  • safety (from the physical and emotional affronts we face in the outside world);
  • security (with basic food, shelter and clothing taken care of);
  • acceptance (to know that we are whole, complete and perfect just as we are);
  • love (unconditional if that is even possible);
  • truth (that life isn’t fair, that there are good and bad people, that we deserve love, and that no matter what we can make it.)

Moreover, the perfect mother would remind us that we are good enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, deserve love, and can make it no matter what or who life throws at us.  But, like a Barbie doll – such an ideal is only a fantasy.

My mother did her best to raise five children (only seven years apart) and offer a nurturing environment – given her knowledge and parenting skills, and I am truly grateful.  I always had a home where I knew someone would know my name and I could fall asleep without fear of violence or hunger – I am grateful, especially when I know that not everyone had this luxury.

Lifelong Mothering can only come from Within

Regardless of what your mother was like, I believe that EVERY mother falls short of being the ideal mother we need(ed).  The good news is that no matter who was/is your mother, we all have the opportunity, starting today, to be the ideal mother to ourselves.  We can give ourselves the inner pride, security, safety, unconditional love, acceptance, and truth to become the best we can be!

Many books attempt to teach us how to nurture ourselves and overcome our childhood – including  as the Inner Child, I’m Ok- You’re Ok, There is Nothing Wrong with You, Co-dependent No More, The Four Agreements,  etc.; but few teach how to be the mother you need(ed) for yourself.

Being able to rely on unconditional love and undying support of the ideal mother can only come from within. We owe it to our inner child to give him/her the nurturing in the way we need, from someone who knows us better than anyone possibly can.

Starting today – evict the Inner Critic

The first step to being a mother to yourself is to evict the harsh inner critic who takes up valuable real estate in your mind.  Replace this critical voice (you’re too xxx, you’ll never be yyy, don’t even try to do zzz!) with that of the ideal mother (you are perfect the way you are, you can become yyy, don’t just try but do zzz!, you can do it!)

Tell yourself what an ideal mother would say:

...you are extraodinary…you are beautiful…and you are loved.

In The Four Agreements, author don Miguel Ruiz says that Agreement #1 is Always live with integrity.  In other words, never tell yourself anything that you would not tell a best friend.  Be supportive, loving, accepting, proud, nurturing, and giving to yourself!

The second step is to write down the characteristics an ideal mother (or father) would have (or could have) provided in your life, and then start doing them for yourself!

Does this make Mother’s Day sense?

What do you think? Is this simply airy-fairy, psycho-babble?  I can tell you that the Royal We (me, myself and I) plus my inner Mother is a formidable team (newly formed!)

Does this ring true for you (or anyone you might know)… please comment!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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

Sticks and Stones are Secondary

30 Mar

Did you grow up in the era of  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

Childhood memories can be brutal – especially if you were ever accosted by a bully.  It didn’t happen more than a couple of times to me, but I remember yelling these words hoping the bullies chasing me would somehow get tripped up by some magical force that the words conjured up! They never threw punches, but the unkind words they flung could be far more damaging.

“Ugly duckling!”  “You look like a boy!”  “Pigeon toes!”  Words thrown in haste that decades later, for most of us, can still sting.

Names and words can be powerful weapons that can inflict pain, rejection or verbal “spanking” of others.  I believe that words can turn into W.O.M. – weapons of mass destruction, and cause widespread damage to whole societies.  (Hitler used words to effectively control a nation and alienate the world.)

I recall the story of a bully whose father caught him taunting the neighborhood kids. As punishment, he made his son put nails into a fence for each name he had yelled.  The fence was covered with nails by the time he was finished, and the father talked to his son about the damage he was causing.  The son recognized the bad behavior and promised to stop bullying.  When a day that passed without name calling, the father allowed the son to remove some nails from the fence, until it was finally clear of nails.  The lingering message came on the last day when the father showed the son the holes that remained in the fence.  The son then realized the lingering damage of careless words.

Today, many parents refrain from corporal punishment (physical spanking), but fail to recognize the harm they inflict by the verbal spankings they unleash with their words.  (It is oft quoted that children hear the word “no” around 67,000 times by the time they reach the age of two, and the word “yes” far less!)

What is worse – physical or verbal abuse? 

If you believe the opening line of this post (sticks and stones…), you may not agree that words and tone can cause damage.  But I would bet that unless you have the most confidence and the most wonderful parents in the world, you probably still cringe when you recall harsh words of grownups from your past.  Why do we convict those who use physical abuse as their weapon and not those who use words to the same effect?

This week, a new documentary called “Bully” opened in select theatres across the country.  The filmmakers chronicled the life of a teenage victim, in the hopes of raising awareness and curtailing bullying in schools. I agree that it is time we take action to stop school yard bullies so that all children can concentrate on learning (a good strategic move for our nation!)

Next steps…

Maybe the next step after that will be to face the less obvious, but sometimes worse, cyber bullying and verbal abuse.  But, first, we as adults, need to stop and recognize the power of words to cause harm.  Guilt, shame, rejection, and embarrassment… these are but a few of the emotions we can stir up with pointy words.  We would never poke someone’s eye out with a stick, but we don’t think twice about stabbing them with words.

(Sidenote:  sometimes parents even use these tactics on their grown children to coerce or manipulate them into submission.  I’ve seen plenty of examples of this from friends whose parents don’t realize they are no longer children.)   

Perhaps the first step towards healing our societies is to reword the childhood adage… to maybe “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will ever hurt me.”

Just food for thought…

Carol

Friday Folly

23 Mar

What if, just for today, everything was perfect in “your” world?

  • If all your thoughts were happy ones free of worry about yourself or anyone else?
  • If every cell and muscle in your body were pain-free and excited to be alive?
  • If every person you meet today is happy to see you?
  • If every sensation from your six senses (including intuition) was positive?
  • If you felt gratitude just for being alive?
  • If your soul felt optimistic about your future?

Author and sage, don Miguel Ruiz, says:

The dream of the planet is just a dream. It is not even real. If you go into the dream and start challenging your beliefs, you will find that most of the beliefs that guided you into the wounded mind are not even true.

Spend the next 24 hours Dreaming that all the above are already true – just as a Friday folly – and see if your Saturday doesn’t turn out to be just as awesome…

Have a great weekend!

Carol

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