Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Shake it Off

Yesterday I had a lesson on how mean people can be.  Now, I realize in the grand scheme of things, even in the grand scheme of my puny life, having someone make an unkind comment to me is essentially meaningless; however, it took me by surprise and thus elicited a very strong reaction from me. 

As some background – in anticipation of having a team-leader position (quasi or real) to apply for in my office (which position never materialized, long story), I signed up for a “Great Leaders” class offered by my employer through Franklin Covey.  I liked the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People class I took a number of years ago and so this seemed like a good bet too.  It is a fairly big commitment – three Tuesdays in a row – with reading and homework and projects to work on before and after.  One of the things I had to do in advance was request that people complete a “360 assessment” of my leadership skills.  I sent a request to 25 people and 13 of them responded (what does THAT say, I wonder?).

Yesterday I printed out the report to take to the first class – noting that the numbers were about what I expected, maybe a little better.  Until I got to the last written (anonymous) comment. 

It was not directed at my work, but at me personally and was…mean.

There’s really no other way to describe it.  It was mean.  And it took me by surprise.  And it made me cry. 

People I shared the comment with said it was the mark of a mean-spirited, probably jealous person and that I should disregard it and focus on the constructive comments.  I want to, believe me, I do.  BUT – here’s the problem: the people I asked to complete the assessment were people I respect and with whom I work relatively frequently and closely.  These are people who, though they may not be my besties and from whom I expected some tough constructive criticism, I thought respected me as well.  To find out that one of them – haven’t figured out who – not only thinks I suck as a leader, but as a human being too.  Wow.  That hurts.  And there’s absolutely NOTHING I can do to fix it.   Haters, gonna hate, hate, hate.

There are some of the responders or potential responders who I know for certain did NOT make the comment.  But I couldn’t figure out how I would interact with the others now?  I was embarrassed.  And so I sat there and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  I wasn’t sobbing or anything but I couldn’t’ stop my eyes from leaking for about 40 minutes.  And then for the rest of the day anytime I thought about it, my eyes would well up again.  I got a migraine for my troubles and I fell asleep last night without even saying goodnight to anyone at about 8pm.  Great day. 

I am given to self-pity and wallowing – I know that about myself.  I am, in general, not a shiny, happy person.  It doesn’t take much to derail my mood and send me into a dark place for longer than I care to stay.  It sometimes requires a great force of will and some real effort (and a lot of sleep) to get out of the mire.  So…today I am trying shake it off -  focus on work, focus on my homework, and take steps to just move on.  I asked someone to be my mentor through the homework process.  I sent a draft purpose statement to my teammates for comment.  I printed out everything I need to take to DC with me next week.  I haven’t mentioned it to anyone today.  But I still keep wondering which of my co-workers has that low opinion of me and why.  Which has made shaking it off difficult.
Until...I got an e-mail from someone at HQ asking me to teach the [my job] course as part of a new attorneys class in May.  It's only 2 hours and I could probably do it in my sleep, but it felt G.R.E.A.T. to be asked to do something that validates my talent, even if only in my own mind.  Take that hater.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How not to win customers

This past summer B made an appointment with a window installation company who was going door-to-door in our neighborhood trying to drum up business.  We need new windows (though have no plans to buy them in the near future), it was a free estimate, and B felt some sympathy for the guy who came to the door.  The day for the appointment came and went.  B couldn’t leave the house while he waited for them to show up.  They never did.  Nor did they call that night.  He got a call the next day asking him to reschedule and he politely declined. 

They have called B. 2 or 3 times a month ever since – to the point that he had to block the number on his cell phone.  Monday they decided to call our home number where they addressed me by my first name before identifying themselves.  When he asked if he could come out and do an estimate for us,  I realized who it was and politely said no thank you we aren’t interested.  He persisted, “did you decide that now isn’t the right time for new windows?” 

No.  You made an appointment and didn’t show up before.  We aren’t interested in rescheduling.

“I’d like to make that up to you, when can I come out?”

Never.  We aren’t interested in rescheduling.

“Well how many windows do you have out there?”

He continued to talk and I finally just talked over him, thanked him for calling, and hung up on him.


Are we going to have to block the number to our home phone too?

Theoretically spring is coming soon; however, there is very little evidence of that around us.  For the last 5 or 6 weeks the world has been white – covered in varying depths of snow and ice.  It has been very, very cold much of the time so any melting has been minimal.  I think it is beautiful, with the bright sunshine that we’ve had on occasion, the snow is glittery and pristine and so pretty and February has been SO much better than January in that regard.  But…enough is enough.  My ankles and feet hurt from having to walk the dogs in my boots for the last month.  I’ve fallen on my a$$ or other sundry body parts 7 times, going down hard only once, and causing only minor bumps and bruises so far, and a fair bit of embarrassment on the others.  The dogs think it is great fun when I slip, but scary as heck when I trip and go flying.  Most of the neighborhood is walkable, but there are plenty of places where people did a crap job of clearing two or three or ten storms ago.  The melting, thawing, refreezing, more snow on top, cycle makes things kind of treacherous.   Another reason to dislike people.

I think by now the bulbs are normally coming up but there’s not even a hint of grass catching sunshine right now.  I hope that the cold weather has kept them hibernating (or whatever bulbs do) and that they aren’t trying to come up under the snow and rotting.  If it doesn’t warm up soon and melt the snow, it will be after Easter before we see any flowers in the ground or on the trees! 

Although fall is my favorite season, I am most eagerly waiting for Spring.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Daily Musings, 2/18/15

Outside my window: A mirrored covered building in which I can see the reflection of my building’s other floors.  I can also see the reflection of what looks to be something masquerading as sunshine and what could be blue sky.   

I am hearing: a Glenn Beck podcast from last week. 

I am wearing: Gray pants, an white long sleeve shirt and a navy blue corduroy blazer. 

In the kitchen: My kitchen consists of my lunch cooler which has some soup, crackers, and some fruit for later.

I am thinking: I wish I knew what was happening with my grandmother who fell and hit her head and broke her hip last night.  My parents went up to State College last night but left for New York this morning to see her and find out what is going on.  She is 95 so it can’t be good. 

I also need to do something during lent (which starts today) to kick start my faith again.

I am thankful for: My warm house, car, and office.   My running shoes that I got for half off this week.  They are top of the line Asics, regularly $160.  They were last year’s model so were marked down to $130 and then were 50% off of that.  So, I got really expensive, really good, hot pink running shoes that make me want to run in the sunshine for half of what I usually pay for the less-good model.

I am reading:  The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans.  Great book.  Toby gnawed the corner off yesterday so I now own it and can read it at my leisure. 

I am hoping: it warms up at some point.  I also REALLY hope that my sweet niece’s PCS improves a little more quickly.
A few plans for the rest of the week:  Work, early night, work, swim practice, work, swim practice, swim practice, clean my house, visit my grandmother (?), Korean new year, swim practice.   

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Daily Musings, 1/28/15

Outside my window: A mirrored covered building in which I can see the reflection of what looks to be sunshine? 

I am hearing: a Pat and Stu podcast from last week.  I was caught up, but now I’m a week behind again!

I am wearing: Brown pants, an off-white long sleeve shirt and a burgundy cardigan.  I am freezing.

In the kitchen: My kitchen consists of my lunch cooler which has some soup, a roll, and some fruit for later.

I am thinking: not a whole lot.

I am thankful for: My warm house, car, and office.

I am reading:  My Miracle by Debbie Macomber.  I am listening to Unbroken which is SO good.  The narrator is great and the story is compelling. 

I am hoping: the supplements I started this week work.  I am REALLY struggling with being beyond tired this month.  Is it SAD?  Lack of sleep?  The weirdly elevated liver enzyme?  Even when I get 8 hours of sleep for several days in a row I am exhausted.   

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Work, early night, work, swim practice, work, swim practice, swim practice, sewing class, clean my house, champs, swim practice.  I think I have lunch duty on Friday too. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rhythm of My Days, Part 2

(Continued from yesterday) 

If I had $500 that I had to spend on fun, how would I spend it?

$500!?!  On fun?!?  If it was for the family - K really loves amusement parks so maybe we would go to Hershey or go down to Busch Gardens for a day and maybe stay overnight in a hotel?  For B and me, a weekend away with a nice dinner and some fun activities.  If it was $500 to spend just on me?  Gosh I don’t know.  A mani/pedi definitely.  A massage?  I’ve never had one and I’m not sure I’d like it.  A Fitbit and TRX trainer.  Does buying exercise equipment for fun make me weird(er)?

Who are the five most important people in my life? Do I wish I could see more of them?

K, B, my mom and dad, my sister.  Yes to all.

Do I like to listen to experts, or do I prefer to figure things out for myself?

Listening and then figuring out for myself.

Does paying with cash make spending money seem more “real” to me than using a credit card?

Yes.  Credit cards are evil.

Am I motivated by the thought of winning or losing a bet?

Not really.

Do I embrace the rules or flout them?

Usually embrace.

Would I be happy to see my children have the life I’ve had, more or less?

Tough one.  There are many things about my life I would be happy to see in K’s  - happy memories with my family from childhood, the opportunity to travel a little, a man who loves her unconditionally, the joy of becoming a mother and raising a child, etc.  There are many, many things that I do not wish on her - decades of depression, struggle with an ED, anxiety so bad that I was afraid to try or do anything until I was in my 30s, regrets for the things I didn’t do because I was too scared.  I don’t wish any of that on her.   But the rest of it?  Even with the struggles and hard-to-me times, life is worth living. 
To Be Continued....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Rhythm of My Days, Part 1

A few months ago I came across an interesting series of questions to help one take stock of one's life, etc.  I am a sucker for those sorts of things, so of course I started working on it and never got to finish it.  I will endeavor to complete the entire long list in stages over the coming weeks.  Feel free to do your own and share it with me (all two of you).

Would I rather be ten minutes late or ten minutes early?

Definitely 10 minutes early.  I hate being late.  I think it is rude when other people are late and it seems to show a disregard for other people and a disrespect for their time.

What errands do I regularly do? How many times each week?

Very few, actually.  Usually grocery shopping once a week, although B has been doing it lately b/c of work/swim schedules.  Occasionally I’ll make a trip to Target or Walmart once a week and usually a trip to the library to get and return books.

How much control do I have over my time: what time I get up, go to work, go home, go to the gym, leisure time?

I guess the short answer is “complete.”  I like to complain about and curse my schedule, but it really is my choice, isn’t it?  I choose to get up early to work out before work rather than give up family time to do it at another time or skip it altogether.  I choose to start and end work early to avoid the traffic on 422 as much as possible.  I choose to work 8 hour days instead of 9 or 10 hour days so that I can coach swimming and have an extra hour with my family.  I choose to coach swimming.  All of the things I hate about my schedule are my choice.  And yet…there are times when I feel trapped by my obligations and the unrelenting nature of the schedule.  But I am truly blessed.  I only have 1 kid who is only involved in 2 non-school activities (piano and swim).  I have a job that lets me be super flexible with my schedule – working at home when I need to, approving time off when I ask for it.  I am making a conscious effort this year to workout primarily on work at home days and weekends so that I can sleep an extra 45 minutes on days I work in the office (3:45am, woohoo!) and hopefully end up slightly less exhausted at the end of the week.  We shall see how that works as the year progresses.

How much time do I spend commuting or taking other people to activities?

Commute – 7 hours over 3 days.

Taking K to swim – 3 hours, plus time on deck.

Would I like to spend more time with friends, or by myself?

In general, I really prefer my alone time.  I am an introvert.  After periods of time where I am around people – especially large quantities of people – and interacting on a high level (example – coaching or giving training or having a ton of meetings in one day), I kind of crash, beat myself up for every interaction that I don’t think went as well as it needed to, and need to regroup. I don’t have many close relationships, and it is a chicken-egg thing as to whether I don’t have them because I am just not good at them or I am not good at them because I don’t have them.  People don’t seek me out for companionship and friendship.  I don’t know why that is but I do wonder if it is because I am a terrible person, a bad friend, or just not likable?  Or is it because I am so introverted that I just don’t throw myself out there all that much.  I am also fiercely protective of the little down time I have and pretty choosy about what will make me give up time with my family (or a good book or some sleep). 

One of my anti-resolutions this year was to stop wasting time trying to get the attention of people who just can’t be bothered putting the same effort/energy into a relationship.  People who don’t answer texts or e-mails, people who don’t ever invite me to do anything, people who really couldn’t care-less.  Of course, recent and not-so-recent efforts to increase and encourage relationships with people have failed miserably leading me right back to that thought that a relationship with me is just not worth anyone’s time. 

So…the upshot of that is that I do treasure my alone time.  But, I get even less time with the very few friends than I do actually have so I would like to add some friend time as busy schedules allow. Or some dedicated Brian time since he is truly my very best friend. 

At what time of day do I feel energized? When do I drag?

Although I drag majorly when I get up in the morning, once I walk the dogs and get moving, I have the most energy in the AM.  I am dragging mid-afternoon and then evening. 

Do I like racing from one activity to another, or do I prefer unhurried transitions?

Unhurried although that is kind of rare. 

What activities take up my time but aren’t particularly useful or stimulating?

Facebook.  Game apps. 

Do I want to spend more time outside?

Yes!  I am sick of being indoors.  January sucks.  I have been making an effort to get outside when it is light out.  I also ordered a few supplements which I hope will help with the tiredness and general January slump.

To Be Continued…

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Scanning through the current top sellers on Amazon, there is a clear New Year trend – weight loss and diet books.  The same thing happens every year.  Not only are there a huge crop of new diets and new weight loss books that release right at the end of the year each year, but there is a resurgence of the favorites from the prior year.  In the top 20 new releases, there are 7 diet/exercise/health books.  Seven!  Another 4 in the next 20.  Plus another 6 or 7 rounding out the top 100.  That’s not including the “better your life” books that aren’t necessarily diet or health related.
So, I’ve decided to write my own diet and exercise book for the end of 2015 – the working title is, “Burn More Calories Then You Eat” or alternately, “Get Off Your Ass and Eat Less.”  The concept is pretty simple, as you might imagine.  I have the first chapter written already too if you care to read it:
“If you really want to lose weight, burn more calories than you eat.  The end.” 
What do you think?
I am all for people making positive changes and doing things to better their health.  I admit, it annoys me a teensy, tiny bit when a newbies come to the gym each January and February.  I don’t get annoyed because they are there, per se, quite the opposite, but do get annoyed because those short-timers are more inclined to be there just taking up space, looking pretty, and drinking their lattes or engaging in poor gym etiquette such as hogging lanes or machines, not wiping things down, talking on the phone, etc. (see also, zombie walkers).  Truthfully, I am always really glad to see people there – working towards a goal and trying to get healthy whether they have failed in the past or have just decided to try.  That is one of the reasons I want to become a personal trainer – not only to help my swimmers, but also because I think that everyone can and should enjoy exercise, can and should get stronger, and can and should get healthier.  But it involves a commitment and it isn’t going to happen by just showing up for a couple of weeks or making the change only about that hour you are in the gym each week. 
Speaking of changes at the gym – this morning there was no hot water.  None. Not even a drop of luke- warm.  It was C*O*L*D!  And of course, I was naked and running late by the time I realized my much needed shower wasn’t going to actually warm up enough for me to get in it.  So I washed my hair by leaning in as much as possible and trying to keep the water off my skin and then by soaping up and splashing water on to rinse off the soap rather than jumping under the spray.  I honestly didn’t want to die of a heart attack by standing under the spray so I probably smell a little off today.  Because I had washed my hair upside down and not rinsed it really well it was hard to get a comb through it at all and it is slightly gummy today as well.  It took me until about 30 minutes after I arrived in my office and was huddled in front of my space heater drinking coffee to warm up fully.