Hi all, sorry for dropping off the face of the earth for a while. Actually, it wasn't that I dropped off - more like I went to a different part of it. Last week was my spring conference meeting in Arizona, and Rick and I decided to make a vacation out of it. It was a great idea. Arizona is amazing! We had a fantastic trip and I know we'll cherish the memories of it forever - in fact, I hope we make it back there sometime!
The trip started out with flying out last Tuesday. We flew from Columbia to Charlotte to Phoenix without any trouble (except I did get a bit of motion sickness). Then we picked up our rental car and drove 3 hours to Williams, Arizona to The Grand Canyon Railway
. It was a long day of traveling, but the hotel there was very nice and we got a good night's sleep before taking "The Train" to the southern rim of The Grand Canyon on Wednesday. The entire day was unbelievable. The train ride was fun. We had a great hostess, and there was a Navaho guitar player and a really good banjo player to entertain us on the ride. Once at The Grand Canyon, you have a few hours to explore the area as you wish. We got the 1 day package, so we decided we'd rather hike the trail along the rim to really take in the sites. It was an easy hike and the view was spectacular. We took a lot of pictures but honestly, pictures don't do The Grand Canyon justice. It's also impossible to have enough time there. There's so much to see and do. But our time was limited, so we made the most of the hike and shopping around the village and took The Train back to Williams. The Train arrived in Williams at 5:45 and it was time to drive back to Phoenix to turn in the car. We weren't really hungry because the hotel had a huge breakfast, and we ate lunch at the village and had snacks on the train. So we drove straight back to Williams. Sunset over the mountains in Arizona is beautiful! I wish there had been places for us to pull off and take pictures but as it is, there was only 1 spot and we passed it after dark both days. Oh well.
We got to Phoenix around 9:00 and turned our car in. We thought about keeping it but frankly, the rental had unlimited miles and was so expensive that we said heck with it - we heard you could walk in Scottsdale and that they had a free trolley. We got a cab from the airport to Hotel Valley Ho and checked in there around 10. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that's the nicest place we've ever stayed in. They have a mid-20th century theme, but don't let that fool you - the place is magnificant! My meetings were on Thursday from 1-5 (but I did get out early that day, around 4), on Friday from 8-3, and on Saturday there were meetings from 10-1, but I had to leave at the 10:45 break because we had a 1:15 flight back home. It's a good thing I got the earlier flight too - more on that in a minute.
After the meetings each day, we walked around the historic district of Scottsdale. Thursday night was Art Walk night and that was great. It was amazing to see the artist displaying their work and letting us see them painting current projects! There were also street musicians and tons of great art around the city, and more resturants than you could enjoy in 10 lifetimes. That was a lot of fun and, of course, there was souviner shopping along our walk. On Friday, we walked to the 5th Avenue Shops and the mall. More great stuff (and great art) to see there, including the canal running off The Salt Lake. We came by the canal around sunset and that was beautiful.
Saturday was time to come home. It was tough, because the weather was beautiful in Scottsdale - it was in the 70's, sunny and clear the whole time we were there. But we were homesick and ready for our birds, our home, and our own bed and bathroom. We took a limo from the hotel to the airport (which, ironically, was cheaper than a cab) and the flight from Phoenix to Charlotte went like clockwork. It was when we got to Charlotte that we found there had been problems there. There were flight delays in the morning due to weather, and that threw off flights all day - every flight was running behind. Our flight was delayed for three and a half hours (and the gate was moved twice - that I know of). It was a bit frustrating because we were supposed to land in Columbia at 9:15, but as it turns out, we didn't leave Charlotte until 11:10 and we were close to midnight arriving in Columbia. My poor parents were so patient with us. They didn't complain the first time about the excessive delays, or for being put out to pick up us much later than expected. And they really enjoyed keeping Zack, Chloe and Ollie too. It sounds like they had a lot of fun.
Despite the delayed final flight, it was a great trip. Arizona is so nice! It has to be the cleanest place on earth - I don't believe we saw as much as a crumpled up napkin anywhere the entire time we were there. The people were friendly too. If you even look like you need anything there, any number of people are willing to help. All you have to do is ask and they'll do whatever it takes to help you.
And yes, I did do some work while I was there. The conference went well and it was good to see the other executives and board members from the other states there. That's a great group of people and I always enjoy being around them. We learn a lot from one another.
On a scale of 1-10, this trip is a 20. It was amazing! Best business trip ever, no doubt. If you're interested in seeing my pictures from the trip, I have them posted on Flickr. Feel free to check them out, and to share them with others.
So it was a great trip - but it's also good to be home. It's exciting to see new places and different people, but it also makes you appreciate the comforts of home. And who knows? We might make our way back there someday.
That's all today.
As we head into a new year, I ponder my resolution to have better balance in my life on a number of levels. One of those (very important) levels is in the area of stress reduction and reducing worry in my life. I think these are things we all struggle with, and recently I've come to realize there's a great deal that we impose on ourselves, especially when it comes to our relationships.
This realization came after having several people tell me things that other people said and/or did over the past few weeks and asked what I thought of it. I remembered that when I was under a therapist while going through my life changes a few years ago, one of the things she told me was that the secret to finding balance was realizing what was and wasn't my business. "You concern yourself with your responsibilities and what you control and let go of the things in the hands of others," she said. That's certainly true, and in fact remembering this advice upon being asked my opinion on these various situations and issues made me realize that people, in general, bring on a lot of their own stress by worrying about or fretting over things that other people think, say or do - things they have absolutely no control over.
Why do we do this? My first reaction was that it's arrogance. Frankly, we all have a tendency to beleive that everything is all about us - and that's wrong. The truth is that everything people think, say and do is all about THEM. It's a reflection of how they see the world. Even if they say that "others made me do it," the truth is that they made the decision on how to perceive things and on how to proceed. Nobody "makes" anybody do anything. Plus, by nature, people are going to do what's best for them and the ones closest to them. Why should they do something that benefits you 100% and them none at all when you aren't the center of THEIR world?
So there's one reason, but I don't think that's all of it, nor the major portion. In fact, I think if that were the whole reason, then it would mean that people in general are extremely selfish and short sighted, and I don't believe that such a narrow view applies to most people most of the time. Some maybe, but absolutely not all. Maybe not most. And remember, I said there's some truth to this. Maybe it's a small part, but I don't think that's a "once size fits all" explanation for it. Most people learn, grow, and gain a wider perspective on the world and as such, they aren't so shallow.
I believe another reason is that we want everybody to like us. The problem is, I recently read that there was actually some scientific study that at least 10% of people aren't going to like you. Frankly, I was surprised the percentage was that low. I thought it would be closer to 30%, but the latest study I read said 10% so we'll run with that. Why is this? Plain and simple, personality differences. Some types just don't play well together. If you don't believe it, ask any extremely emotional person I've come in contact with and they'll tell you I'm mean and don't give a crap about their feelings. I am, by nature, a person that leans more toward logic and reason in making decisions than emotion. I usually don't get along well with extremely emotional types that "just want peace" and "want everybody happy right now" because I beleive happiness comes from investing the time and hard work to do things right no matter how you feel about it "right now." If you do what's right, then it will work out in the end, and that's a happiness that last; not a vapor of high emotion that wears off when the party is over and the consequences have to be paid. In fact, since I've been working in professional licensing, I'd say my tendency to make decisions based on logic and reason have become a stronger because by nature of my profession, I'm obligated to do what's right no matter how people feel about it. I don't think that's a bad thing (of course), but I've caught some flack about it because I'm female, and by stereotype I'm supposed to be all about feelings. While I'm ok to say "alright, forget the 10% and thank God for and enjoy the other 90%, well, some people get awfully fixated on that 10% and believe that if they work harder then they can get a 100% approval rating. It seems their effort would be better spent nurturing relationships with the other 90% but in fact, sometimes they turn on the ones on their side to gain approval they'll never have, counting on forgiveness from that 90% that might come, but not realizing that it will have a higher price than they bargained for because broken trust is a very hard thing to rebuild. But it happens, all the time. I've experienced it; I've seen it; I've written about it. Hey, I'm a writer. The ugly underside of humanity is a playground of inspiration. Expose it to me at your own risk.
Just kidding - maybe. And a sidenote on the emotion thing: I'm interested to see if the stereotype of "hysterical emotion" in women downplays as more generations of women have careers.Working women don't have time to fret over every little wayward comment, rolled eye, questionable social media post, tear or tirade that comes their way. Or at least, me and my colleagues don't. But we'll see as time tells this particular tale.
So there's that. But not all people are emotional and out for approval ratings that would make politicians jealous, so reason #2 can't apply to everybody. But it does apply to enough that I believe it should be considered.
There is one more reason, and I think it applies to most of us. I believe the reason people get tied up in what others think, say and do is because they don't want to be alone in how they think or feel. They want to know that others agree with them. They want others to have an opinion with them, or to get mad with them, or to be sad with them, or to take up the cause with them because they don't want to be the only freak swimming against the tide. They want to know they're like everybody else and what the other person is doing is wild/selfish/stupid/crazy/nonsense/whatever. They don't want to be alone in their opinion or feelings because they don't want to look in the mirror and ask "is it them, or is it me?" We all want to be right. We all want the world to understand that our opinion is just as important as everybody elses'. We all want respect. Nobody wants to be a nobody. They want people to know that they're here, that they have value, and that they are just as important as the other 7+ billion people in the world.
Here's the thing, though: Going about it by getting tangled up in other peoples' business is a sign of insecurity. If you truly walk in faith and you're confident in yourself as the authentic human being you were created to be, then you don't need to beg or scream for attention. You humbly go about your own business, believing that the life God set before and the purposes you serve speak for themselves.
That's the cure. That's how you break free from this stress. You get busy living your own life and tending to your own businss and have the grace to accept others and the decisions they make without intruding into their lives with your opinions.
Does this mean you ignore others and don't care what they do? Of course not. You should always do your best to help people in need and if there's something you can do to help others on their life path, you certainly should. The key is to use common sense and discernment. Yes, we all have opinions on things, but we don't need to share them all the time. Everything that flies through your head doesn't need to fly out of your mouth. If you aren't asked for your opinion or advice, assume it's not wanted or needed and keep it to yourself. I'd even go so far as to say that you should still use caution in giving advice even if you ARE asked for it. As one of the elves said in The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring, "elves don't give advice because all paths may run ill." Think before you speak. If in doubt, don't. And realize that advice is a take it or leave it thing - and in many cases, people leave it, so be prepared to have your advice or opinion rejected just in case and be prepared to not get offended. And please, for the love of God, if it won't make any difference and you have a thought - don't. Stop right there and go no further. If it's done and/or there's no way it's changing no matter what anybody says and you really need to get it out, set up a private blog or buy a journal to work it out, but don't go off on tirades and complain to everybody in the world about things you can't control involving people close to you. And don't ask or expect people to take sides with you unless you want to do the equivalent of renting a billboard that says I'M THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM. It makes you look bad and it makes other people run like hell from you when they see you coming. If it's something so big that you can't live with it, find a way to either deal with it or distance yourself from the situation. Just because a war's going on doesn't mean you have to be a soldier in it. Other people might want you to have their problems, but they can't draft you. You don't have to accept them and if you choose not to accept their problems, well then, it's over.
The point of this mile long blog is that I'm coming to understand that balance is something that we have to strive for in every area of life, and personal relationships are certainly a big element there. We do live in the world, with people, so having good, balanced relationships is an extremely important thing. And one way we can achieve balance in our relationships is by not being a busybody, minding our own business, and having the grace to let it be.
Thanks for hanging in there with me on this one. I hope you had a Happy Friday and that you have a great weekend.
I'm starting to wonder because it seems like everybody thinks it's ok to vent on me. I even have strangers stop me in public and tell me their problems! Just fuss and squawk about all your problems to Sherri, why don't you? Tell her everything and everybody that pisses you off and rage about the insanity and unfairness of the universe. Actually, this has been a thing going on with me for a couple of years now. It's ironic. I finally wised up and realized that people didn't need unsolicited advice so I quit giving advice - at all. And then all of a sudden, people thought I was a great person to unload their problems on. It went from "you just have a bachelor's degree in psychology and aren't qualified to help" and "mind your own business" to "please help me" and "can't you fix it?"
Um, no. Because here's the bottom line:
1. I didn't go for the advanced degree and make a career out of this because I realized that my skills and abilities lie in other areas;
2. If the problem involved me and I'm doing my best, then you're outta luck because it's not getting better. If I can help, I will. If I'm doing my best and that's still not good enough for you, you're S-O-L and you know where to find the door. Because I've learned that it's not my responsibility to make the entire world happy.
3. If the problem doesn't involve me, then it's not my business and I'm not touching it with a 10 foot pole. Because I've learned that the path to simplicity is to mind my own business, do what I can, and let the rest go to those that have a responsibility/right to deal with it.
That being said, I do understand that sometimes people need to vent and that's alright. I certainly do my fair share, and if you just want an ear then fine. It's when it's the same old stuff that can be fixed but isn't that crosses a line. I simply don't understand why some people will accept bad things in their life and would rather whine and complain than fix it. You know what? The secret to happiness is doing what you can and adjusting to the rest. If you can fix your problems, fix them. If you can't, do what you can to minimize them and adapt and move on. But please, realize that if you continue to complain about the same old things and we see you refute help or solutions because you don't like the way they come to you or the hard work to get it done, well, people are gonna get pissy and write snarky blog posts and smart-alec social media posts about it.
I'm not calling names or making accusations. This post isn't about any one person or thing but rather the fact that it seems that lately, I've been the repository of unloading frustrations and accusations over stress, workloads, and holiday prep and plans to. I'm just saying that we all have a chink in our armor, and people can see it. So please, for the sake of civility, let's please at least act like we're fixing it, can we? It's almost the holidays, for goodness sake. Because the problem isn't the world, or the situation, or the time of year, or even other people. It's peoples' attitudes. Plain and simple.
Nobody's perfect and we can all stand to so some self-improvement. I know I have problems. There's those sassy, blood red poinsettas mocking me everywhere I go and that's something that's gotta be dealt with REAL soon! But that's a blog for another time (and it will be an interesting one - stay tuned).
That's all today. Take care all. I hope the week is good for you. Hang in there for the short work week - relief is on the way with Thanksgiving!
I’m often asked if the things that happened to Jana Lanning in my recent novel, Anywhere But Here, actually happened to me. For those of you that haven’t read this novel, Jana Lanning, the protagonist, is denied admission to graduate school, finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, helps her best friend get married and move out of town, and has to settle for a job that she’s overqualified for – and all of this happens within two weeks of getting her undergraduate degree. Then to make things worse, the office where she works starts a merger with another firm and Jana finds herself on the wrong end of office politics that are the final straw in her battle with depression. The thing people seem the most interested in are the office politics. People want to know if the happenings at Dixon Financial are reflective of my job before it was transferred to a new agency a couple of years ago.
In response to that I’d say not entirely, but I can’t deny that some things that happened to me early in my career are reflected in people and events that take place in the book. I know that’s cryptic, but bear in mind two things: The people and events are fictionalized and that was accomplished through a mixture of my personal experiences, experiences I’ve seen and heard of from other people, and instances I’ve read about in books, magazines, news and other media. It came from a vast pool and I’ll admit that I had experience with being on the wrong end of office politics – heck, how could you write about it even from a fictionalized perspective unless you lived it in some way – but it’s also a universal issue that anybody working in an office environment is going to be on one end or the other of. And sorry folks, but there are probably going to be times when you find yourself on the wrong side, at least from the perspective of the majority.
My purpose in both writing Anywhere But Here and this entry isn’t to bash my former workplace. These things happened a decade ago, and I must admit that I said and did things that weren’t wise and didn’t lead to the best resolution in the situations I faced. I certainly learned from those experiences and in retrospect, I’m glad I learned those lessons early in life or I certainlywouldn’t be where I am now. The purpose is to share lessons learned, because this is something that I believe everybody in the workforce faces at some time. It makes you feel isolated and lonely when it happens, but the truth is that you aren’t alone. Lots of people face it but few talk about it because frankly, it’s embarrassing.
I used to think that people playing office politics were selfish jerks that like to hurt people, but experience has shown me that it actually grows from a root of fear. People that play with power are insecure and doubt their own ability, so they create an elaborate game of turning people and things to their advantage. I’ve found that there are 2 good ways to identify a person that is likely to use power to their advantage:
1.They cling tightly to cliques that are made up of people that are higher on the chain of command than they are; and
2.They don’t associate with anybody on the chain of command below them unless it’s absolutely necessary - and those people better give them what they want immediately or it’s insubordination.
It’s the people in category #2 that usually find themselves on the losing end of office politics because any wrong word or deed will be met with fierce retaliation. I won’t say that I never see office politics anymore, but I have found that I find myself in these situations a lot less since I’ve been reclassified to a mid-level position. I’d like to think this is because I’ve proven that my knowledge and abilities are valuable, but it’s more likely that I learned valuable lessons on how to deal with these types from previous experience – and people know it.
So what’s the secret to dealing when you’re the victim of office politics? If you’re right, stand by that. Don’t ever cave in and take the quick and easy way out because that’s a temporary end. If they’d turn on you once, they’ll turn on you again. Caving in only shows that you can be taken advantage of, and they will milk that dry, plus the consequences of doing wrong will follow you a lot longer than standing up for what’s right. They might not like you, but they’ll respect you and at least know not to let you catch them with their hand in the cookie jar again. If you aren’t right, correct yourself immediately and stick to your guns in walking down the right road. And whichever situation you’re in, it’s imperative that you have patience. Truth will show itself in time and it will be end game then. It might take months or even years for things to come around, but they will and you’ll be better off for it. The reward will come in patient endurance, and it will be something that nobody can deny. Sure, there are people that are so stubborn that they’ll refuse to change their mind no matter what happens, but don’t worry about them. Leave them in their ignorance and move on because it’s highly probably that they’ll be gone in time themselves.
I believe Jana Lanning in Anywhere But Here is a good personification of office politics gone wrong, because she’s the one in the weakest position. She didn’t do anything wrong and in fact suffered for doing right, but recent personal losses kept her from taking a stand in the right way and the right timing. The people that create these situations are masters at turning things against you even if you didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s exhausting to constantly defend your own character. Unfortunately, she found this out too late and suffered the consequences of crossing the wrong people simply by being who she was and not deferring to people doing things wrong. She was right and had proof of it, but she didn’t know how to present that truth in a combative work environment. That happens sometimes, and it’s awful. I think the worst offence in the world is to have to suffer for other peoples’ mistakes, and office politics are the ultimate example of that.
I think this is why eople tell me that they find Jana Lanning so likeable. She’s a good person that doesn’t deserve the hard knocks that come her way from people taking advantage of her shy nature, youth, and inexperience. She makes the same mistakes that all of us made in our early adulthood and we understand her confusion at why life is kicking her around. Reality is a hard teacher, and it’s the only one that can do the job once school leaves off. Remember the movie “St. Elmo’s Fire” from the 80’s? That strange, new world opening up is the exact thing that Jana faces, and we understand exactly where she’s coming from. She, like the rest of us, has to learn to find those gems of opportunity in the rubble of defeat to rebuild a new life from shattered dreams. In some ways, we may even relate to her right where we’re at, because life is always teaching us lessons.
So no, I didn’t start out in life exactly like Jana did. I actually did marry my college sweetheart, but I never made it to graduate school because I found other things that I believed were worth more in my life than higher education. I never struggled with depression, but I knew (and still know) many who do battle that demon, and I hope Jana’s struggle helps people with depression understand that this is a battle they can win if they stay in the fight. But yes, I did go through an office merger in my early years in the workforce, and I found myself prey to the power plays, albeit in much different circumstances. All I can say is that wisdom comes from experience, and I gained plenty in those few years.
And lest you think it’s impossible for poor Jana to face so much at one time, I call your bluff. Too much smashing my life to bits was the catalyst for my next novel, Splinter – but that’s one for a future blog entry. I’ll address it closer to the release date in mid 2013. Until then, enjoy Anywhere But Here and my other books - information on them and links to buy are on the other tabs of this website. I hope you find entertainment and inspiration in them.
That’s all today.
Hi everybody; I'm sorry I disappeared for a while. I was doing final edits on Anywhere But Here early last week and travelling on business to Coral Gables, FL late last week - needless to say, I fell a wee bit behind on some things!
Actually, this was my first experience on travelling for work. Until last Wednesday I had never flown or worked outside my home office. The flying seems to be the #1 question I'm asked and yes, I liked it fine. It was ok. Besides the fact that the landings seemed kind of rough and there was some turbulence, it was ok. I wouldn't hesitate to fly again, if need be. And it would have to be "if need be" due to the high cost of airplane tickets!
As for the rest of the experience, I'd rate it as a solid neutral. I rate it as such because frankly, I found an equal amount of pros and cons to the situation. For example:
Pro - I got to meet a lot of people that work in my field and it was good to share experiences, insights and knowledge.
Con - I was still working, the same as I do at home. The difference is that here I can go home after work. There, I went back to a hotel room, and every night I was checking e-mail for the office online to make sure I didn't get railroaded by an emergency or swamped with simple questions that I could answer "on the fly."
Pro - I didn't have to cook, as meals were either covered or will be reimbursed.
Con - The food in Miami is awful. Sorry folks, and I mean no offence, but they even managed to mess up mashed potatos with funky spices. Everything is either 5 alarm spicy (which is suicide with my acid reflux) or so bland you might as well chew on cardboard. I know now why the girls in south Florida are so skinny - the food isn't edible!
Pro - The weather was great! It was in the 80's and felt like April/May around here. That definitely agreed with me, especially when I found out that it rained here all day Friday while it was sunny and warm there (although I didn't get to enjoy it until 4:30 p.m. when my meetings broke for the day).
Con - The traffic was awful. Add to that the fact that President Obama was at the University of Miami Thursday (which happened to be my first day of meetings), which pretty much put things in gridlock during the late afternoon.
Pro - Lots of things within walking distance.
Con - Because you don't park for free in Coral Gables or Miami. I see why downtown is so opulant! It's $2 just to part for a few minutes, and an average of $10-$20 if you need to park for any length of time. They do not waste time, money or public resources on parking lots. It's meters everywhere. McDonalds and the hotel we stayed at were the only places that had free parking.
Pro - Flying really is the fastest way to get anywhere. Our trip home Saturday, including layovers, was roughly 4 hours. That's a fraction of the time it would have taken to drive.
Con - Miami International Airport must be about 20 miles long, and I walked every bit of it. I (unwisely) wore boots with a slight heel on the way in Wednesday, and had huge blisters. I wised up Saturday and wore socks and well padded shoes for the return trip Saturday.
Given all of this, I rate travelling on business as a "church camp experience." What does this mean? Well, when I went to church camp as a kid, I came home and told my parents "I had fun, but it's the kind of fun I only want to have once." I never asked to go back and never did. It was a perfect "once in a lifetime experience."
And that being said, it brings up a point that may be awkward for some - overall, travelling on business is the same as church camp. I'm glad I had the experience, but really don't care to see it again. And if this is going to be a requirement of my job from now on, well, I'm not aiming to become a high-power, globe trotting career woman. It might be time to pursue a mid-life career change. But that's a whole other issue to be discussed at another time.
So that's my impression and analysis on travelling on business. It's opened my eyes - some in good ways, some in bad ways, and some in ways yet to be determined, as I'm still processing a lot.
Take care all. More later.
There was an incident today that I feel needs to be addressed once and for all. It's time to clear the air. So here we go.
I had a House committee meeting today on regulations for one of my programs. As some of you know, my job moved from one department to another on July 1, 2010. Moving two registration programs is a massive effort - so massive that we've spent the past year and a half trying to get things settled. We have our last bit of work in the legislature in hopes of wrapping up this transition for once and for all and getting settled in a nice, peaceful routine.
I was sent to this meeting in order to observe and note what items the committee discussed so we could prepare for anything that needs to be addressed as it continues through the legislative process. Unfortunately, the plan I was sent to execute was disrupted when a former associate of our program (who is also a former colleague that worked closely with this program before my time here) showed up. Even though he is no longer on payroll or associated with the program or my department in any way, he felt it necessary to use his clout to intervene when the committee was discussing my program's item. The intervention resulted in the natural progression of the conversation to derail into areas that caused the committee members so much confusion that they referred it back to the subcommittee in hopes of getting the questions cleared up. Translation: we took a step back today, which means a delay, which means that my department and the representatives for my program are not happy.
I'm not either, and this mess forces me to attend to an unexpected situation. There are, obviously, some issues with my former colleagues and associates that need to be addressed. And so I have decided to use this blog entry to address them in an open letter to clear the air and set the record straight, for once and for all.
Dear Former Colleagues and Associates:
I understand that transition is tough. Lord knows, I've been through my share. I went to hell and back between my job move and my in-laws moving to town at the same time in the spring/summer of 2010. By the grace of God and the support of some great, stable people in my life (meaning my husband and immediate family), I was able to not only survive two concurrent life changes, but to thrive as well. I openly admit that my old life is dead. There's nothing of it left behind. I actually came to it recently in what I call a "Frodo Baggins Revelation." Just as Frodo realized that his adventure changed him too much to return to his old life, I also realize that I'm not the person I was. You see me out and about and you recognize my physical appearance, but if you talked for me even for a few minutes, you'd realize this isn't the Sherri you knew 18 months ago. Great change has that effect on a person. In fact, I'd say that if it didn't then there's probably something wrong because it should. While the fundamental basics of who you are remain stable, a major life transition (or two) SHOULD shift your paradiam so much that it changes how you see the world and apply those fundamentals to your life. I've moved on and learned so much more than I ever thought possible in a relatively short period of time. It's shocking, but I also see that it was necessary. I needed to change. I needed to grow up more. I needed to lose my fear and to live more boldly than I was in the past so I can fulfill my life purpose now and into the future.
What surprises me is to find that obviously, you are having some problems letting go. To intervene in the affairs of a program that you gave up 18 months ago, knowingly and willingly, is stark evidence that seems to say you still haven't severed your own ties to the past. Honestly, it was the last thing I expected. You played it so cool during and after my move that frankly, I thought you were relieved to be rid of the programs and to move on without them and me. Yet today I (and the full House committee) saw evidence that you are still following our progress and seem to feel some sense of obligation to "look after" us. I can assure you that this isn't necessary. Really it isn't appropriate and I won't lie - there are some folks on my end of this that are furious about what they deem as an unwelcome intervention. Their ways aren't your ways, and the fact that they didn't send an entorage to this meeting didn't speak of negligence - it was strategy for future planning. And you blew up that strategy because you inserted yourself into business that really isn't even yours to look in on because you believe in "making things happen" instead of letting them progress.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not here to cast blame. I understand that it can be hard to let go when something has been your responsibility for a long time. These programs are as old as I am, so it's natural to feel some attachment to something that was under your wing for over 35 years. I also understand that I was very young when you hired me to handle these programs. I was a 23 year old recent college graduate and newleywed in 1999 when you hired me - but that was 13 years ago. I grew up, folks. I don't know if you realized it, but in the years I spent there I did grow, I did learn, and I did outgrow many things. I won't deny that I still have much to learn, and I can be my own kind of fool from time to time. But please, grant me the grace to be the igit I am, not the igit you assume I am because you know the 23 year old me but not the 36 year old me. And believe it or not, there's a great difference between those two people. The girl I was is gone. I'm a new creation now. You may or may not like it. I don't know, and it doesn't matter because I'm gone so it's pointless to ponder.
Likewise, the programs have grown. As I said, the department where we are has a very different way of doing things, but different isn't bad or wrong. In fact, it's been very good for them and they've come a long way in a little time themselves. They're evolving by leaps and bounds but once again, by God's grace we're making it. We're working with great people that work in a very efficient team and have dedicated themselves to learning these programs inside and out. We have daily support. And frankly, it's refreshing for me and for the Board members to be in a place where everybody knows what we do and understand the issues we face, day in and day out. I have met so many good people. I moved to a smaller agency and learned that the world was so much bigger than I ever realized. It's a paradox I know, but an interesting one that I find delight in.
You said when the legislation was drafted to move me that it wasn't personal, it was just business. That's ok. Now please, maintain your professional demeanor. Today was awkward. Let's not do that again. If you wonder how I'm doing or how the programs are doing, please do it right. You know where to find us. Swallow your pride and call or e-mail. Please, let go of the past and entrust us and yourselves to the present. Believe, as we do, that everything happens for a reason. This move went through because the Lord willed it to go through. For whatever reason, He deemed this the time and place for our program to pass from one place to another and change isn't bad. It just provides the tools for moving forward. We do appreciate all that you did for us in the past, but we aren't your responsibility anymore. It's been 18 months and it's time for all of us to move on.
So please, let go. It's not personal OR business anymore. It's just reality. And I know from cold, hard experience that's something that always catches up with you. So make life easy - accept it sooner before it kicks your butt later.
I wish you well in your future endeavors. If we meet again I sincerely hope it will be under better, more friendly circumstances. What I said when I moved still stands: I wish you no ill will as our paths diverged - just respect for what was and the grace to allow us to grow in our respective directions.