In my last entry, I made the comment that it's impossible to know what the modern workplace is like because of the tremendous power of change. I'd like to expand on this comment in this entry, and muse over how this trend has the potential to leak out of the workplace and into other areas of life now.
It started with technology. Computers revolutionized the workplace, and there's no denying that it made drastic improvements. Frankly, I can't imagine how people of previous generations ran an effective office with things as archaic as file cabinets and typewriters. They managed, but now we're moving at the speed of light, at least in offices. I remember a colleague once saying "remember when we sent out notification letters? It would take a week or more for people to reply to them now. Now it's notification emails and thanks to smartphones, our own phones blow up within seconds of hitting "send." It's true. Things move faster now, and they have more ways in than ever. Is it a good thing? All in all, probably so. Things get done faster and have the potential to get done more efficiently. But notice the adjective that's more active than the actual verb in that sentence: potential. Because efficiency depends largely on effective and (most importantly) wise implementation. And this requires having people that make sound decisions and are willing to learn and grow with the changes this improvement brings.
Yes, technology is ever changing, and it requires people in the workforce to keep changing with it. Nothing stays the same, and now we're morphing with the speed of development. You always have to be willing to grow and learn, to embrace new things and let go of old things that might be comforting, but are no longer effective. The good new is that this change, when done with pure motives and right intentions, is the path to progress. You learn, you grow, and hopefully you take those lessons into your personal life and see what you gained continue to bless your life.
Ah, but there's another side to this, and here's the catch. This is where the shapeshifter comes into play, because the constant change in the workplace started with technology, but it oozed it's hand into other aspects of the workplace as well. Changes in how things are done require changes in management, changes in staff, changes in operations. It doesn't stop with the machines. Integrating the machines changes the people, and the way people operate. It means that we must not only adapt to how the machines help us to do our work better, but we also must embrace how the machines change the human element of the workplace. And this, folks, is where we run into issues, because machines don't have a mind and will of their own, but people do, and they aren't afraid to use it. For better or for worse, and sadly, the tendency to react rather than reflect and act in faith means that this element is subject to lots of rash decisions and acts that aren't always conductive to progress.
I've come to realize that there are two kinds of change. The first kind is the progressive kind that I discussed above. An opportunity opens and it's given thoughtful deliberation and consideration. People take advantage of that opportunity and more opportunities arise from it. Yes, it's hard and it requires change, learning new things, and forging into new areas, but the hard work is worth it and beyond the growning pains come progress that lead to a "golden age" of productivity and success. This is the kind of change we should always embrace, and that we shouldn't fear. Yes, it takes hard work to do new things, but the work of laying that solid foundation pays off when you build something that's stronger and better for a new day. Often, the things you learn from these "hard seasons of growth" can be implemented into other areas of life which spurs more growth and more blessing. It can have a chain reaction. One example of this: My office move 3 years ago gave me the courage and strength to start the process of becoming an independent author. The trials I went through getting those programs moved opened my eyes to every area of life, and I realized that I had spent a lot of years submitting my writing to traditional publishers in a sinking economy that had bolted their doors closed to new authors and weren't listening. "If they stop listening, stop talking," someone advised me around that time (of a different situation, but ...) and one day I stumbled upon a CNN article about how ebooks were outselling hardbacks and the light went off. I dug in to edit and revamp my approach, submitted to epublishers and mixed in some self publishing, and now 3 years and 7 books later, I finally have the foundation laid that I was waiting for someone else to do for far too long. I lost my fear of taking chances, I found the courage to make bold moves of faith on my own, and I finally got the ball rolling on the progress I had prayed for. That success gave me the courage to stand firm, to learn what I needed to learn, and to work with others to make the move successful, and it was. Progressive change at work had a 2 for 1 special in my life: the work move was successful despite setbacks and challenges along the way, and I got established as an independent author.
Ah, but there's another kind of change, and sadly I see it in my life now. It's change born of fear, and this is almost always detrimental. Sadly, progressive change usually gives way to this. Things move along well and people are happy with how it's going, but then something happens that changes some element that everybody was comfortable with. Usually, it has to do with setbacks, challenges, changes in leadership, or an unexpected loss of some sort. People get scared and react. Instead of asking "okay, what can we do to stabilize the situation and are there any opportunities from this, no matter how small, that we can seize and use to rebuild?" they ask "how do we protect ourselves." The motives shift from purity (doing better) to selfish (save me!), and that's the road to destruction. Change is not about progress, but about re-establishing control, protecting the "status quo," and preventing more damage. This is where you run into trouble, because damage control is never productive and that's looking at the situation from the wrong end. I think we all remember Yoda's logic in Star Wars Episode 1 - "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side." That's not fiction; it's face. People get scared and they react. Then they get mad because things aren't working out. Then the anger replaces all semblance of reason, and it becomes a battle. As Loki so eloquently put it in The Avengers, freedom leads to a mad scramble of power. Yep, he had a grain of truth there too. It's scary.
Take it from one that's seeing it unfold. There are changes afoot in an area of my life now, and I find myself surrounded by a lot of fear. It's disturbing. I find myself pondering a lot of things, but foremost amongst them is protecting the progress I've worked so hard to achieve over the past few years. An emerging culture of fear could well do that, at least in this one area, and that means that a fight is on. It might already be on, because these spiritual things are a whole different battlefield. That's one song I do not want to sing another verse of in my life. I pray over it a lot, because I don't want to become another soldier of fear. I'm determined to stand firm and to protect the progress I've made. Fear is the devil's best tool, and by the power of Christ I will stand. I pray such courage will spread to others as well. That's a good infection that we desperately need.
Change will happen, and it can be tough to discern whether you're seeing the progressive or the destructive kind. All change is scary because it usually means challenges, hard work, sacrifice, and learning. Growth is hard because it stretches us to new places, but in the end it's good. And destruction also hurts because, well, it's supposed to hurt. There's nothing good about it and being torn down is a catalyst to find some courage and fight against whatever is trying to undo the progress you've done. In the end, you have to keep your head about you and discern the motives for the change. Pray, meditate, dig deep, ask questions, ponder the situation, and find out if the motive is pure. If it is, then you're being called upon to grow and it's a challenge and an opportunity to accept. If it's born of fear, sharpen your sword and get ready to fight because it's on like Donkey Kong, and you better be ready to stand firm or you'll get smashed by barrels of defeat.
And with that dated and somewhat lame analogy, I will call the point made and the entry done. I hope you have a great weekend and that all of you dad's out there have a Happy Father's Day tomorrow.
There are some phrases in widespread, common use that seem to be universal hot buttons to piss people off. Really, I don’t understand how it became commonplace for people to say things that erode the very respect that relationships are built on, and yet I hear people say it – and complain about having these things said to them – frequently.
Certainly, we should always be honest and authentic in our dealings with people, but discernment is an absolute necessity in our dealings with ALL people. Just because it flies through your brain doesn’t mean it needs to fly out of your mouth, and in fact there are many times when it’s best to keep that thought in your head and fake it till you make it with your words (or silence, depending on the situation). For example, here are some phrases you should eliminate (or at least, drastically reduce) in your vocabulary that will garner more respect, motivate people to cooperate and work well with you, and make you appear more intelligent and savvy:
1. “Whatever.” Nothing coveys the ignorant-inconsiderate-jerk trifecta like this one word phrase. You have the entire English language at your disposal and that’s all you’ve got? If it is, then it’s time to recognize the uncomfortable fact that sometimes, the best course of action is to gracefully back away and let silence be golden. And if you refuse to exercise the right to remain silent, then a simple “I hope that works out for you and wish you luck” is much more dignified than throwing out something that makes you look like a cross between an immature tween and a person that’s learning English as a second language - and isn’t quite getting it.
2. “Do what you’ve got to do.” I don’t hear this one as much as I used to, but it’s still out there, and it’s a sin for the same reasons as “whatever.” More accurately, that’s redneck for “I don’t like what you’re doing and would move Heaven and Earth to stop you, but that would reveal me as a selfish jerk to the rest of the world and I don’t want to do that, so go on and get this over with so you can get back to doing things that make me happy.” It isn’t your job to like or even understand everything that other people do, so let go and accept that people have a right to lead their lives, do things, and make decisions that work best for them regardless of what you say, think, or need. Instead, say “I understand this is important to you.” Even if you don’t and you hope it blows up in their face, just fake it and at least acknowledge their right to live as they see fit. Because I guarantee you’ve done things that made them go “Hmmm” in the past . Plus, if you want people to stay interested in your life, then you have to at least act like you give a crap about them and their life, even if you don’t care about them any more than you care about the extra 40 minutes in a Martian day.
3. “That’s not my problem.” I stand back when people say this because it’s an open invitation for the universe to hit you with its best shot, and that’s a challenge it ALWAYS accepts. Sure, you aren’t responsible for every single thing that happens in the world, and there are some things that aren’t your business, but have some dignity in declining to accept responsibility that you feel isn’t yours. “I’m sorry I can’t help you with that” is much more gracious and doesn’t invite fate, the universe, the world, or whatever you wish to call it to deliver an entirely new batch of problems into your life. Fake sympathy for the other persons’ plight even if you don’t really feel it because you WILL be at the receiving end of this one day, and the measure you get will be the measure you’ve given. It happens to us all.
4. “You don’t really want that,” or “Stop wasting your time on that and do this instead.” Excuse me, when did God appoint you to His position, because that’s what it looks like you’re playing at with either variation of this. You have no way of knowing what’s in other peoples’ hearts or what plans are in store for them, and they aren’t required to get your approval for it, either. People have a right to make their own decisions. You never know what might happen and statements like this may very well make a fool of you one day. Don’t take a chance.
5. “I told you so.” Even if you preface it with the I-hate-to-say-it-but clause, it’s still ridiculous because they already know. Demonstrate some maturity and don’t gloat over somebody’s failings, even if they asked for it and everybody knew it was foolishness from the start. As I said in the last statement, people have a right to make their own decisions and that means having the grace to let them make their own mistakes. Pray they’ve learned from the experience, and don’t gloat lest you wander into folly someday. Because none of us are as smart as we think we are.
6. “ I did that too, and let me tell you how I did it better.” Nobody likes a know-it-all or a show off, and a constant need to one-up people blinks “I’m insecure!” brighter than a digital billboard. You don’t have to be in the spotlight every minute of every day. Back down and let others have their day in the sun every now and then. Because we all know that nobody’s done everything under the sun, and there will always be people out there that have done it bigger, better and more recently than you have. Let go of the competition to always be #1 and learn to be happy with the life the Lord gave you.
7. “If I were you, I’d …” Turn off anybody that prefaces a statement with this immediately, because it’s a clear sign that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Wisdom gives options. Experience shares insight. Ignorance says that if they were you, they’d go out and kick the world in the you-know-where, and that’s most often foolishness that would make a bigger mess of things if anybody were dumb enough to take this advice. Plus, they wouldn’t have the guts to actually do it, because some people are good at telling people to do things they wouldn’t dare do themselves.
8. “You should make them do it.” Guess what? Scientists have found the center of the universe and it’s not you. That’s the fastest way to run a person out of your life. You don’t make anybody do anything they don’t want to do, and if you try to then trust me – you’re ego can’t handle what they really think about you. If you have to control someone every minute to “keep them in line,” then you’re trying to force them into a place or relationship where they don’t belong. Don’t beg people to be your friend or try to force them to your will. Pray for what Joyce Meyer refers to as “divine connections.” Those are friends and acquaintances that you get along with so well that you don’t want to change them because you appreciate how their uniqueness enriches your life.
9. “I would NEVER do that/accept that/put up with that.” Never say never or the Lord will make you do it to show you who the boss really is. One never in your life that’s absolute: you never know what life has in store for you. Someday you could well be dining on crow while dealing with something that you thought you were too smart/special/good for. Life has a way of humbling us, and the “I would never” statements are a GPS on how to get that done.
10. Anything other than “I’m sorry for your loss” and “I’m praying for you and your family” at a visitation or funeral. Anything else sounds stupid and believe me, there’s nothing clever or inspirational you can say that will get through people in the depths of grief. The dumbest things I’ve ever heard have all been said at visitations and/or funerals because people try to justify death and offer comfort in religious platitudes. Folks, I’m Christian too, but this isn’t seminary or time to play preacher. I remember what C.S. Lewis wrote about death not being natural because human beings weren’t created to die and it’s the most painful consequence that we pay for sin. He’s absolutely right. There’s nothing right about death and there’s no way to wrap it up in pretty phrases or platitudes that makes it suck less. So give it up. Don’t engage in conversations with the bereaved if they try to start one, either. This isn’t the time or place to engage in theological discussions, discuss anything beyond condolences for the loss (no gossip or “what’s up with me” statements), and it certainly isn’t appropriate to leverage your personality or make a big impression. It’s a subdued occasion so dial it down, make an appearance, and for goodness sake, shut up.
Maybe you relate to some of this and are nodding, saying thank you for revealing it! Or maybe you see it as a calling out. I certainly don’t mean it that way, and I admit that I’m guilty of uttering some of these phrases. In fact, I had to work at cutting the “whatever” and “I told you so” out of my vocabulary, and I get along with people so much better now that it’s gone. My point is not to say “shame on you.” It’s to shed light on small things that chip away at trust and give guidance that I’ve learned in building bridges to cooperative relationships that last. It takes time and effort, but if modifying my vocabulary slightly will help with that, then it’s an effort worth making. I believe if you’ve read this far then you believe it’s a worthy effort, too.
That’s all today. Take care. I hope you have a Happy Friday tomorrow and a great weekend.
Okay folks, this is my blog and today, I feel compelled to share something that has been on my mind for about a month or so. I held back because I wanted to make sure I wasn't being overly-sensitive or taking things out of context, but in reflection and talking with some others, I realize that it's completely within the bounds or normal, how shall I put it - pondering. Yea, that's a diplomatic way to say it.
I've known a number of people that have recently faced trials and life changes similar to the ones I faced a few years ago. Of course, I can relate to their struggles quite well, having been through something similar not too long ago. But one thing that rubs me kind of wrong is that a few years ago, people were quite bold to tell me to get my crap together and move on. I heard a lot of "if I were you" and "you need to get things under control" and "that's just life, you have to be strong and work your way through." I realize this is all true, of course - life throws you curveballs and the only way around is through. I knew that at the time and the truth of that still rings loud and clear. It seems, though, that when the situation goes from "it sucks to be you" to being the one it sucks for, well, that's different.
I asked Rick recently if this realization seemed harsh or hypocritical and he said (exact words): "No. People weren't afraid to get in your face and tell you to get it together. They made it clear that you were to make it stop immediately."
Okay, so it's not just me. There is a level of hypocricy going on.
I could get angry. I could get very frustrated and call people on it. But the truth is, I haven't had to. While nobody's come to me and said "oops, well I guess you aren't the only one reality can kick in the a**" their contrite attitude has clearly indicated that they finally understand what I was trying to communicate before: That it's not so easy when you're in the middle of it. Oops, you can't make things go back to what they are because you aren't God. Oops, you can't force other people to change. Oops, you can't just say "stop" and the universe will heed your call. That big, bad boldness is fine when you're on the mountaintop, but not so practical when you're in the valley and a flood is threatening.
I see that they get it, and I don't think their circumstances are the result of a lack of sympathy at my plight, or anybody elses'. Rather, I think it's the universal truth that reality is an equal opportunity smacker. It will knock us all down and bring us to a humility that we never imagined we'd have to face. I know I've had to become a new person from my own experiences. I had to completely change the way I thought about EVERYTHING and that's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Sometimes, I still have to remind myself to case off those old thoughts and embrace the new. It isn't easy, but to refuse would have been to sentence myself to a life of misery and depression, something that I simply won't have or allow in my life. If it's change my thinking to stay happy or hold to my old thoughts in a life that doesn't fit any more and resign myself to depression and misery, I'll change.
We all have to make that decision at some point. It's going to happen. C.S. Lewis called it The Law of Undulation in The Screwtape Letters, and I believe this is one of the most often ignored truths of life in this world just because it makes us uncomfortable and we don't like it. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. We will have times when we're on top of the world, but eventually the pendulum swings and we find outselves with the world on top of us. Sure, sometimes it's the result of bad decision making, but just as often it's the result of things beyond our control: things change. People change. Circumstances change. As The Bible says, "time and chance happen to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11). And all you can do is deal with it, for however long it goes on, until you work your way through to the other side.
So no, I'm not mad at people. Rather, I hate to see them go through such times because I know the pain they fell. It's not fun and I pray it passes for them. That being said, I would like to share some things I noticed going through my own trials that I hope will give others facing hard times some comfort or guidance in navigating their way through the valley:
1. Be honest, first with yourself and then with others. The sooner you face that life is crap for you right now, the quicker you'll find your way through. But also realize the truth that this too shall pass and you won't be here forever. There's always hope. Likewise, don't be ashamed to admit that life isn't roses, unicorns and rainbows. Don't be afraid to tell people, when you must, that things are rough, but you're doing your best to work through. Now that being said;
2. Use discernment in who and what you share. You need to be honest with people, but they also don't need to know every single thing going on in your life. This is especially true when dealing with sensitive family matters. I'm sorry to say it, but there are some people that won't get it and others that will use it against you to embarass you later. I think we've all had those instances where you shared something personal with a friend because you needed to vent, and they brought it up VERY publically later to get a laugh or gain what I call "cool points" with others that they've decided they like better since you shared your woes with them. Keep your inner circle limited to a very few people and even then, use discernment. You don't have to tell everything, nor should you. It's fine to say "yea, I'm dealing with some issues with myself/ job/health/at home right now, but I'm working through and it will be okay. I just need an extra dose of grace and patience right now," and leave it at that. You aren't on reality tv, so you don't need to act like it.
3. Don't be afraid to seek outside advice. The problem with keeping it in your inner circle is that they are biased. They aren't going to be able to fully see the situation and sometimes their advice, although well meaning, will be off base because of the tendency to see what they want/like best (for whatever reasons). It's perfectly reasonable to go to a pastor, therapist, or vocational rehab service, even if just once, to get a clear perspective on the situation as a whole so you can understand how to best proceed. Just be forewarned that those closest to you may take a level of offence. I did this a few years ago and was told by a few "well, I'm sorry we all let you down so much that you had to go to a stranger for help." That's not the case at all. I was realistic enough to know I was too beat and broken to see it logically on my own and that those close to me couldn't see past my own pain (and their pain) to see it clearly either. I was that serious about dealing with things right the first time so we could all move on. A good barometer of knowing when to seek outside counsel is this: if you feel absolutely stuck and paralyzed with no way out, you need a third party intervention. It doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're strong enough to face all the ugliness of reality and have the determination to work it out correctly, no matter what.
4. Realize that some people "just won't get it" and decide right now if you are able to forgive them. General rule: if somebody prefaces a statement with "if I were you..." cut them off right away. They aren't you and that statement means "I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, but I want to say something so here it is." Likewise, and this isn't flattering but it's absolutely true: Sometimes people are more sympathetic to others because they like them and their situations better than they like you and your situations. Okay, maybe that's harsh, but people are biased based on their own experiences, and what this means is that they'll come down harder on you because there's something in your situation they really hate but they'll be more sympathetic to another facing something similar because they like or relate to something in their situation more. We're all hypocrites, folks,and we all judge. It's not right, but it's true. You have to make the decision to forgive it and move on or you'll stay stuck in the mire of your own problems a lot longer than necessary.
5. There is one, universal solution to all problems. This is the good news, but it isn't easy news. That universal solution is do the right thing. All the time. No matter how hard it is, how much it hurts, who gets angry, or how tired you get. No matter what. And don't stop doing the right thing ever. It might hurt like hell, piss people off, and seem to destroy your life but trust me, it's temporary. Because "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28). Doing right always leads to right in the end. Some battles may be lost, but the war will be won. But taking shortcuts, doing things the easy way, or ignoring things and hoping they will go away will prolong the war indefinitely. It literally took two and a half years for me to get my life settled into something that could be called "normal," but I'm convinced the struggled would still be ongoing if I didn't dig in my heels and determine that I would do things right, no matter how hard I had to work, how tired I got, who got mad at me, or how much it hurt. Let me tell you, it doesn't hurt anymore.
So take it from one that actually did all of these things - it works. You have to be stronger than you imagined possible, but it works.
Am I mad at my realizations? No. People aren't perfect and I made the decision long ago that I wasn't going to get angry or hold grudges. There's no point in it. My mission was to recreate my life and move on in the abundance and blessing I could find in it, and I am. Now I pray that others going through hard times will find the strength to move through and to find their own blessings and abundance on the other side of their trials.
And there is the other side, folks. God promises that there's always hope. I'm living proof. So keep fighting on to do what's right, and it will be fine. That's a promise you can count on.
That's all today. Take care and have a good weekend.
It happens every time I finish a major writing project - I crash. It's been so hard motivating myself to do anything this week, and the fact that my sinuses have been acting up isn't helping. I tell you, life just seems kind of dull when you don't have a writing project to work on. Everything is humdrum. Work. Chores, Errands. So some promotional work on the published books. Go to sleep. Repeat next day.
Well, it is still winter, but spring is coming. Soon, it will be time to get the roses going for another growing season. The days will get longer, especially when we go back on daylights saving time. It will warm up. My muse will return and I should be working on short stories again. The new person in the office will start soon and license renewals will end soon, so maybe this avalanche that's had me buried since November will let up enough to remind me that the sun is still shining out there and allow some fresh air to rush in. And maybe, one day, by the grace of God, we'll get a new pastor at church. Finally.
There is hope on the horizon. It's keeping up the momentum to get from here to there that's the challenge. Because if you want to see progress, you have to keep at it, right?
Well, the past few months have been a lot of work, so maybe slowing the pace is the right thing to do, at least for a little while. We only have so much energy, and I just spent a lot of it in an explosion to get these two works published. I'll keep doing promotional things, of course, but maybe it is time for me to back off for just a bit and take a writing break, at least. I think the short story endeavors can wait another week or two without causing the apocolypse to happen.
Yes, the crash has happened, but it's natural. Some people call it "writer's block" and get very frustrated with it, but I've been writing long enough to know that this too shall pass. I'll keep promoting. Keep blogging, of course. And I know that once my muse has an opportunity to get the rest it needs, it will start working again. And the momentum will continue.
That's all today. Take care and enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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.
Happy New Year everybody! I want to thank each and every one of you for supporting my writing, and for following me online. I hope that you have a joyful, successful and very happy 2012 and that you make your dreams come true.
Thanks to 2011 for being a great year full of progress. Here's to continuing a successful journey in 2012!
Hi all; I'm back. I guess you noticed that I've changed the format of this blog somewhat. I wasn't being very diligent about keeping updated, so I decided to open things up a bit and offer the characters from my novels and short stories a chance to drop in every now and then to give you their stories. So now, there's no telling who will be doing the updates. Will it be me? My characters? Or even my birds? Yep, even Zack, Chloe and Ollie are interested in jumping into the fray.
So today it's me, and I'm here to report a little problem I'm having. It seems that a rut is developing in my life, and I'm not happy with it. No precious, not at all. Yes, I am frustrated and here’s why: Every bit of the progress that’s been made over the past 2 years has skidded to a halt. Things were good and heading in the right direction for a while but then, it seems people got tired. It was hard. It required changes they didn’t want to make. So they’ve dug in their heels, got out their shovels, and dug a comfortable little bunker to hide in, hoping it will all go away.
Aww, poor babies. Reality is hard. Well, I hope that hole is comfortable. As for me – no thanks, I’m not dead yet. I don’t belong in a hole. Or a box. Or a box in a hole. Whatever, the point is that I’m not staying in this place. Stay if you wish, but don't get mad as you watch my backside climbing out of this rut.
I didn’t come this far to quit.
I didn’t come this far to fail.
I didn’t come this far to give up.
I’d rather try and fail than not try at all. And frankly, I’ve seen enough progress to know that success is possible. I honestly don’t understand why some people are so eager to give up when the goal is in sight. Isn’t it worth it to work through the tough stuff to get to the goal? I mean, would you turn back from a trip to Disney World because you have to go through a town with a paper mill and you don’t want to deal with a bad smell for a few miles? I wouldn’t. But it seems that I know some people who would.
The bottom line is that I see a rut developing, and I don’t like it. There’s potential to see more progress and I want to see it through. Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I’m weary. But I’m not giving up. I know there’s no turning back and that people settling in this rut are deceiving themselves into believing that lie. There is no going back, nor do I have a desire to. The things that have passed have passed for a reason - they no longer have a place in the present. The purpose now is to move forward. I don’t have to stay in this rut, and I won’t. I’m going to gird myself up and keep going.
Halfway isn’t good enough for me and if that's “expecting too much out of life,” well, darn right I do! So you can be safe, but I won’t be sorry. I still see the goal, and I'm pressing on. You can come with me, or you can be left behind. And that’s the way it is.
So that’s where it is. I’m not wasting my time on people that don’t want my help. There’s still too much to do.
That’s all today. I hope you’re journey is well this day. Look for my weekly installment of "From Sidekicks to Superheroes" soon - that is, if I can claim my blog from my characters and birds!
I was offered another book contract this week.
Yes, that's right. Another publisher, Wings e-Press, offered me a contract for Blurry, my young adult novel. After checking to make sure it didn't conflict with my other ones, I signed it yesterday. So ladies and gentlemen, I'm publishing 2 books.
I can't believe this. I've had a 4 year dry spell of nothing but rejection after rejection and absolutely NOTHING in print, I get an offer to publish 2 of my books in a matter of less than 3 months.
It's absolutely unbelievable, and it's going to happen fast, as Wings wants to publish Blurry in August 2011.
I'm still haven't got work from Whiskey Creek Press on a publication date for Anywhere But Here, but I'll probably hear from them soon. I know publishing 2 books will be a lot of work but heck, I just uprooted and moved 2 professional licensure programs last year and dealt with my in-laws moving at the same time. In other words, I spent a year going to hell and back. I think I can do this.
I'm really excited. In fact, the only thing that's keeping me from bouncing off the walls is that I'm getting over a cold. It hit me last weekend and thankfully it seems to be passing, but the high ozone today hasn't helped.
So that's life in my corner of the world. I pray this is a turn for the better in my life. I've been working for this for 10 years and now that it's happening it's kind of shocking! But it's a good shock. Finally, it's change and progress in my life that I've worked for, and not something that other peoples' decisions are shoving down my throat. Finally, I'm steering this ship. Finally, my life is in a heading of my choosing.