The Power of One Person

kindness

When I was five I started kindergarten. I remember my first day of school, I sat at a table near the door and watched while all the other kids were dropped off and said good-bye to their parents. I watched as some cried, others just put their backpacks in the cubby and were walked to their table. It was a nonevent honestly. As far as I know I adjusted fine.

There was one thing though.

One day my class walked in a line to the lunchroom and we were all shown where to sit. My class was split up and I ended up at a table where I was the only girl and there was only one boy from my class sitting with me. I did not know the other boys and they were mean. I opened my My Little Pony lunchbox and pulled out my Ecto-Cooler juice box (Ghost Busters were all the rage in the 80’s), the boys from the other class began to call me Slimer (the ghost on the front of the juice box). I didn’t know what to do. I had never been bullied before. I was also out numbered. I did not have a friend, I knew no one. I just sat there and took it and it got worse. The taunting got louder, all the boys at the table except the one from my class were joining in and laughing. I began to cry. They laughed harder.

I will never forget the little boy from my class who was sitting next to me as all this was taking place. He looked over at me and asked if I was okay. I said no. He got a teacher. I don’t think he knew what to do either but I will never forget his kindness. He was the very first person in my short little life that showed me that kind of kindness. He could have easily joined in with the teasing in order to keep himself safe but he didn’t. At five years old he showed me empathy.

I was thinking about him the other day, even after all this time. There have been so many times in my life where something has happened that impacts me in such a way and is etched into my memory, for better or worse. It makes me think about how important it is, the way we show up for life each day, because you never know the impact you can have and how long lasting that impact can be for a person.

I remember the man, a stranger, who sat with me in the grass, in the pouring rain, on the side of road, and held my hand and comforted me while I waited for the ambulance to come after the car accident I was in 19 years ago. Almost 20 years later I remember his kindness and how safe he made me feel even in the midst of the chaos when I was covered in blood and soaking wet.

I remember the hospice worker, a social worker I am sure, who helped me and worked with me after my Nana’s passing when I was 9. She brought me apples and encouraged me to journal. She is the reason I started writing at such a young age. This blog may have never come to be without that person’s very small role in my life.

Some people are only with us during certain seasons of our lives, some are with for the long haul, some come in for a mere moment – you may never even actually know them. Someone you do not even know has the power to make you feel safe in a moment of crisis. We all have that kind of power.

Sometimes I think about the ever expanding universe and stars and galaxies I will never even see and I feel so small. But then I think of the moments in my life like those I have shared and realize our lives are not so small after all. We carry within us such power to do great things every single day when we walk out of our homes and I think that is one of the most beautiful things about life.

Fight, Flight, Total Freak Out

All the bad energy I have been talking about for weeks came to a head this afternoon as I was driving home from internship and it was terrifying.

There is a point on my drive home from internship where the road I am on merges with oncoming traffic. I am usually timid as I make this merge because typically there is a lot of oncoming traffic and the ptsd I have related to a previous car accident keeps me cautious when I drive. So I got to my merge today and there was a lot of oncoming traffic, it was a Friday a 4:45pm so this was not surprising.

I was slowly inching down the merge lane waiting for my opportunity to get in when the car behind me started blaring on their horn. This alone was really startling for me, I wasn’t sure what they were honking for. I looked in my rear view to see the lady behind me screaming (I am not exaggerating here, she was screaming) and waving her hands around in a motion that I interpreted as her wanting me to go. Go where? There was a solid line of at least 4 or 5 cars, there was no where to go until this clearedShe continued with his behavior and laying on her horn until finally there was break in traffic and I was able to finish merging. While I was waiting for traffic to clear I waved back at her trying to signal that Yes I hear you, I will go when I can. It was no use, she was unrelenting.

I was rattled. Her behavior was over the top. My nervous system kicked into over drive.

Once I was able to merge she let off her horn and I thought it was all over. I was wrong. She proceeded to tailgate me down the road, practically sitting on my bumper. All I could think was please don’t cause an accident. Please don’t hit my husband’s car.

My turn for home is not far from that merge area so soon enough I was in my turn lane, again thinking I would be done with this lady and the whole situation. Wrong again. She was turning left too. Then I thought Oh crap. She is one of my neighbors.

When I turned left there was a car coming but I had time to turn, the lady behind me turned left in front of the car cutting it off. I drove down a few blocks and she continued to tailgate me, staying dangerously close to the bumper of my car. I came to a four way stop sign, I needed to go straight but something told me not to go straight home. I turned right. Almost without stopping she turned right as well. I then turned left, she stayed with me. At this point I called my husband. I was not far from home and I did not know what to do. Should I go home? Should I call the police? Was she following me or was she a neighbor?

While explaining to my husband what was happening I decided to pull over to the side of the road to see if she would pass me. She didn’t. She pulled up behind my car. I immediately started driving again. That was all the confirmation I needed. I was around the corner from our home, I asked my husband to come outside, that I thought we would need to call the police but that I wanted to get her plate. I made my left turn at the last stop sign before home and instead of following me she hit the gas and went straight.

I was only partially relieved.

I got home, parked, and immediately went inside. I was shaking so hard my husband had to hold me. I laid on his chest and mimicked his deep breathing until I was breathing normally again. I did not stop shaking for 20 minutes.

After processing it with my husband what we think happened is she saw me on my phone and after the maneuver I did to confirm she was following me she assumed I was on the phone with the police. She made sure to drive off fast and in a direction where it would be very difficult for me to get her license plate information.

As my husband was walking back through the whole situation with from beginning to end I found myself trying to make sense of everything. Why did she do that? I just do not understand. My husband tried to explain that she probably had a bad day and was taking it out on me through her road rage. Ok, but I still do not understand what about me and the way I was driving set her off. There was literally no where for me to go. If I had gone forward like she wanted me to I would have caused a massive accident.What did she want? What was going on inside her head?

I have never been involved in road rage before. I am a very cautious driver, I always let people in, I do not speed.. I just do not see myself as an obvious target for someone’s aggression in this way, especially in this specific situation. I mean if it was what my husband said and she was projecting her anger on me that is scary. This woman allowed herself to get so wrapped up in it that she was following someone home. What did she think she was going to do once I stopped? Was she going to confront me? Was she planning to get out of her car? I mean to what end was she planning to take this situation? And again why?

This all just goes back to the really bad energy stewing our there right now. It does not matter how zen I try to be or how committed to keeping balance and perspective I am.. I cannot control the rest of the world.

Let this scary situation be a voice in the back of all of our heads the next time we feel ourselves feeding into negativity.. To what end? Why? What am I hoping to accomplish with this? 

We are all in this (surviving life) together folks. Lets not make it harder on ourselves or each other. Be kind. Show love. Forgive. Take a breath. Be patient.

It all may sound cliche and recycled but this woman forgot all of it today. We are capable of getting caught up in our own negativity or the negative energy swirling around out in the world. We all have the potential to forget. So be mindful, be kind, and be grateful whenever you can.

Although this lady sent me into a full on ptsd episode I still trying to find compassion. I know it is hard, I am sorry you are struggling with whatever it is you are struggling with, I am sending you light.

“Don’t Try to be Someone Else’s Beautiful”.

feminism

 

I read the quote from the title of this post on HONY today and I thought it was so appropriate being that it is International Women’s Day. As women (not that this applies singularly to women but for the sake of this post they are my focus) we are constantly receiving messages that portray a very skewed, narrow definition of beauty and worth. We are marketed to by being told we are ugly and broken in some way in an effort to get us to buy make-up and hair products, or the latest designer thing. The messages we receive tell us we are less-than because we are women but that consumerism will fill that hole society has created.

In honor of the day I would like to share a few things that make me feel inspired and empowered.

Everyday Feminism is my go to online magazine. It has the best articles that I would recommend to anyone.

Advanced Style Because real beauty does not know age. I love that this movement challenges stereotypes and shows that we do not have to conform to society’s expectations of us.

One of my favorite Ted Talks to help kick those “not good enoughs” we all feel in the ass.

I think it is really important as women that as often as possible we try to be each other’s allies. I think this important across the board but again, for the purpose of this post I am focusing on women. What I mean by this is not giving into the urge to tear each other down but instead choosing to be a source of empowerment.

Here is what this looks like for me:

Not giving into the impulse to lash out when a woman at work was condescending with me and instead meeting her condescension with compassion.

Being genuine and kind and choosing to engage with my ex’s girlfriend when we ran into each other on an elevator because I believe it is wrong to allow a man to pit two women, who would otherwise have no problem with each other, against each other.

Listening and validating a colleague as she explained how difficult it can be at times to wake up in the morning and be the person you want to be everyday when the messages we receive from the outside world make it so easy to give into our insecurities.

Not giving into the urge to actively or passively engage in gossip, especially about other women.

Not allowing myself to be a bystander in situations of any kind of discrimination, to include discrimination based on gender and/or sex.

Showing my love for friends/family by encouraging them to love and belong to themselves.

I think that is the take away message here, to always behave in a way towards each other that encourages women to love and accept their authentic self. We don’t have to all love each other, everyone is entitled to the way they feel. However, if we, as women, engage in any activity that hurts other women we are giving into a bigger system of oppression. That is not something I want to do.

Happy International Women’s Day. Be kind to each other and to yourself.

 

 

A New Year of Growth

better

 

I do not do new years resolutions per se, however, I do take time at the end of the year/beginning of the year to think about what I want the new year to look like. For example, last year I wanted to start volunteering with Hospice, I wanted to start the Social Work program and I wanted to work on improving some of my relationships. There are a few things that carry over from year to year as well. Each year I challenge myself to live healthier than the year prior, emotionally, mentally and physically. I also strive to be kinder and more patient each year (this falls in with living a more emotionally healthy life each year).

To call any of these goals new years resolutions though just doesn’t work for me. I recognize that is essentially what they are but I find that when I label things so the likelihood of any progress continuing past January decreases greatly. Instead I choose to see them in a different light and find the follow through easier.

Along with my big goals for each year come little aspirations for the year as well, here are a few from this years list..

The first I can already check off. For years I have wanted to cut my hair short, like Rosemary’s baby short, but I did not have the courage. I would see girls with pixie haircuts and always think they looked so bold and feminine. I finally made up my mind I was going to do it a few years ago but no sooner than I decided, Todd and I got engaged. At the time I had recently cut my hair into an angled bob and decided not to go shorter as I knew I wanted to wear my hair up for our wedding.With this I started growing my hair out but I told Todd that as soon as we were married I was going to carry out my wish to cut my hair short. That is exactly what I did.

As soon as we returned from our honeymoon I went to the stylist and chopped it all off. The poor stylist was very apprehensive about my request. My hair was past my shoulders when I walked in and I think she was concerned I was going to regret making such a drastic change, at one point she even asked, your not very attached to your hair are you?. I laughed and explained that my beauty and self-worth are not at all wrapped up in my hair. I am happy to share that I did not regret the change in the least! This is unquestionably my favorite hair cut and style to date. The cut is delicate and edgy all at the same time, I love it. Todd was a bit shocked when he came home the first night as I did not tell him what I was doing that day. After the shock wore off he admitted that it suits me well, to which I wholly agree.

new hair

Another idea I have been mulling over for quite a while is learning how to sew. Up to this point I have never made time to learn. I think this will be the year I get around to it. I already have my first project in mind. I have wanted a basic mid-length circle skirt for sometime and have never seemed to find just the right one. I think a circle skirt would be the perfect first attempt. When I was younger from time to time my mother would sew me dresses and tops. I always enjoyed going to the fabric store with her to pick out the pattern and materials. I would like to have this skill set in case I ever have a daughter. If our cards do not play out that way it is still a skill I would like to posses for myself. Not to mention I think this will be a fun mother/daughter activity for my mother and myself.

Another small self improvement I have decided to take on was inspired by something Todd and I read recently. We were in a store searching for the perfect gift for his mother over the holiday break and stumbled upon a book that was loaded with advice intended to be passed down from father to son. We agreed, after leafing through a few pages together, that for the most part the book was filled with solid advice. One piece that stuck with me was “Figure out what your most used word or expression is and eliminate it”. What good advice. A lot of people have expressions they use with such frequency they no longer recognize it but others surely do. For me it is You know what I mean. When I am telling a story or explaining something I might use this expression at the end of almost every sentence. No one has ever complained about my over use of this phrase, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone but when I started thinking about it I realized it is equivalent to a person that says like or um and inordinate amount of times while speaking. Maybe everyone is just being polite and not showing their annoyance, either way I do not want to be someone that uses filler words and phrases. I want to speak concisely and with purpose. So that is a goal for this year, eliminate thoughtless language from my everyday vernacular.

The last possible plan for self improvement this year has not materialized into an ambition quite yet. I am still working out how I feel about it and where I stand. Some of the smaller things I worked on last year had to do with maintaining better boundaries in relationships (social, professional – which in my case means school, and with family and close loved ones), being honest with myself and others about what I want and with that I also worked on having difficult conversations in a loving, supportive, constructive manner. At years end I looked back at my progress and felt good, like warm and tingly proud-of-myself good. I definitely had some difficult conversations last year that resulted in better communication, understanding and respect in those relationships. I was honest with my feelings and did not hold back when I felt that doing so would hurt me. The area of boundaries is where I felt the most pride. I was balanced and stood up for myself, kindly and with respect, when my boundaries were tested.

My mother mentioned on numerous occasions last year how proud she feels to have raised such a strong independent woman. Those are deeply meaningful words to me and make me feel that much more resolute about the direction I am taking towards self-awareness and growth. Still there is this nagging feeling inside that causes me concern. For example, in one case of a difficult conversation last year about boundaries and where I stand on something the conversation was not successful. It was unsuccessful in that when I began to explain my position on a request that was made the other party completely shut down and shut me out. All they heard was me saying No, they had no interest in my reason for doing so. I know that my No was hurtful to that person, even though they shut down and did not want to talk about it further, and their reaction was hurtful to me.

The most regrettable part of the whole ordeal is what this did to the relationship. The thing is my boundaries had always been there, they were just invisible because they were never tested. I do not regret my decision, I just wish this person was open to a dialogue. I know they were hurt by my decision and I can handle them telling me so, I believe they probably feel let down and although I hate to think I would ever cause someone else disappointment I can still handle being told so. Our relationship is still sound but it is not thriving the way it had been years prior.

So what I am struggling with after having more success than not last year in this area is how to continue to improve. For starters I would like to get this relationship back on track. I realize this relationship might look different going forward than it did before but I still feel we can do better than we are now and that is important to me, I do not like to ignore that kind of thing.

The next thought I have is about how to continue being honest about my feelings and maintaining boundaries without causing damage to any other relationships. A piece of me feels like if a relationship is so easily damaged in this way than maybe it was never that strong to begin with. Although, another piece of me thinks maybe some people are just more fragile than others and it is my responsibility to be true to myself and my way of life while taking others feelings into account.

Poise and Grace

grace

 

Truth be told in terms of physical movement and motor control I do not possess either of the competencies listed above. That being said, in the realm of interpersonal relationships and human emotion/self-control these are two areas I am known to excel in. Now I am only able to say that last statement earnestly because I had, in the past, fallen short in those areas and made the conscious decision to work mindfully on my inner self  in order to grow in the area of dignity and grace.

I have been up front about my lack of inspiration of late in terms of the philosophical musings that are often found dancing along the pages of this blog. I have found myself once again struck, it is like an awakening of sorts and as per usual it has presented itself repeatedly in different forms as if almost begging to be expressed.

I have been re-reading Tuesdays with Morrie recently. I have had little time for leisure reading of late but when time allows I have been picking it up and putting it down. I have not had time for a few weeks but this morning I arrived to campus early. I managed to stow myself away in a quiet corner of an upper floor of the building where my classes are held and it was in this corner where my inspiration first hit. I am towards the end of the book and I do not remember exactly which chapter I was on. Somewhere between marriage, forgiveness and culture Morrie said something that ruminated with me, as so many of his insights do. He was talking about how people behave when they feel threatened and how this behavior when in this kind of crisis can tell you so much about a person’s character. I completely agree, as usual. I have certainly noticed this over the years, specifically in professional settings. Sometimes I have been surprised and disappointed, fortunately for me the few people I have looked up to as mentor’s in my life hold themselves to a high standard which I learned and adapted much like a child modeling their parent’s behavior.

I stopped reading after that chapter this morning, I still had about 45 minutes before class but I just wanted to sit and let Morrie’s words sink in. Ironically later in the day my advice was called upon by a friend and we had a long conversation about how to conduct oneself with class and recover from heart-break with grace and dignity. We talked about the negative feelings that were bubbling up inside of her and her impulse to lash out at those who caused them. I have mentioned on here before how I have always believed that no one can get the better of you unless you allow it so we explored that idea in terms of the way she was currently feeling. The resentment, the anger, the frustration and rejection. They were all valid feelings for what she was dealing with. Ultimately by the end of our conversation she had made the decision to take the high road, wish the person who had wronged her well and let go of the negativity in an effort to take back some control over the situation. She didn’t want to allow the person or situation to affect her in this way and chose to focus on the positive and move in that direction. We ended our conversation with some heart-felt admirations for one another and knowing how lucky we are to learn and grow together through each others vulnerability.

Much later in the evening I was watching my all time favorite TV show, the one show that time stands still for in my life, Project Runway. Tim Gunn is my idol, he is the epitome of style, intellect and absolute class. He is a teacher and a mentor by trade and an absolute inspiration as a human being. So like all seasons of this show there is a clear antagonist, the one aspect of this show I have never liked much. I watch this show primarily for my weekly Tim Gunn fix and secondary to that for the amazing art in the form of clothing. The artist inside of me feels alive and stimulated when I watch this show. The antagonist this season was particularly nasty, I speak in past tense because to my delight she was sent home on this evenings episode. Now although this is just a TV show I am talking about I still feel the need to say that my delight was not in this artist’s misfortune but just in not having to sit through future episodes of her negativity. The aspect of the show that applies to my current brain-work was her disgusting behavior once she knew the inevitable, that she was to be eliminated. She was cruel and spiteful and lashed out at artist’s that had never wronged her. It was the embodiment of everything Morrie illustrated in the book. He was essentially saying when threatened, some people react this way and if as a society we could foster a culture where we all work together we would be better for it.

It is a nice idea, something to work towards, in the interim I would find myself satisfied with little changes that can be made in daily life as a way to better ourselves and each other. Things like letting an extra car in when stuck in traffic, even if their driving is inconsiderate, or being kind more often than giving into the immediate gratification impulse of being nasty. Little every day events like this matter. This is a way to foster the culture Morrie spoke of.

So on  more personal note also related in a way to this topic of dignity and grace.. When I was working the front desk at Hospice this week a man came in carrying an exquisite stack of old leather-bound books. He was there visting a patient, I recognized him from the day before. On his prior visit he noticed that we have a small library of sorts in the shared living room and brought these lovely books to donate. They were so stunning even with clearly being aged that I asked him if he was sure, I would have trouble parting with such beauties. When he said yes I thanked him explaining how touching the donation was and made the appropriate person aware so they could process the donation and put the out to be displayed. While I waited for the employee to come down and collect the books I leafed through some of the pages. He donated a Sherlock Holmes, two poetry collections and then another book I was unfamiliar with but that was equally striking. While flipping through one of the poetry books I stumbled across a few poems that spoke to me, one of which was If by Rudyard Kipling. And in what I am sure is no coincidence it is quite appropriate for what I have touched on in this post so I wanted to share it as well. I have highlighted the lines that I really appreciate and identify with.

 

IF

By Rudyard Kipling

(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;  
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same; 
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

The Comforter

be kind2

As I close out the semester the last few weeks have found me furiously writing paper after paper to be submitted for end of semester grading. I am nearly finished with my final paper, a reflection paper on the volunteer hours I worked this semester. In total I completed 42 hours between Ronald McDonald House, Heart of Florida United Way and Hospice of the Comforter. It made for a busy summer but a memorable one as well.

40+ hours over the course of a two month period really isn’t much if you think about it, no more than 5 hours a week usually. This very fact is encouraging in my opinion. It just shows how doable volunteer work can be. I don’t mean to sound like a Sarah McLachlan infomercial, “for only 1 dollar a day you can make a difference in an animal’s life”, but for anyone who has an interest in the betterment of their community but feels hesitation to make the commitment I just want to show that it is a relatively small commitment of one’s time.

I really enjoyed all the different opportunities I have had to be involved this summer. It was fun to see all the classic titles as well as books from my childhood while involved with United Way’s book sorting event.  Cooking at the Ronald McDonald house was a fun and encouraging experience. What woman doesn’t appreciate a little validation that her cooking is not only edible but actually good? Hospice has been my favorite though of any organization I have had the fortune enough to be involved with.

My biggest take away thus far is just how comforting a listening an ear can be for someone in crisis. Surprisingly through all of the training and working my first few shifts solo I have not been that nervous. Usually, with any new experience, there is a degree of nervousness. I think that is be expected for anyone. My nervousness normally stems from me feeling ill prepared, as the experience is new and you are not familiar with all of the ins and outs yet, and my eagerness in wanting to catch on quickly and do my best. Because I received 3 weeks of orientation and training before ever entering the IPU there really was no feeling of being ill prepared thus eliminating any anxiety that would have otherwise been present. As far as concerns about catching on and doing my best, for once in my life I knew I was good enough just as I was. I knew/know this is something  I can handle and will do well at. If my job is to offer comfort there is no doubt in my mind I will succeed and so far I have. In a short span of time I have made some very meaningful connections with both patients and family members. This is encouraging as in most cases I will have limited time to make these connections. With Hospice being what it is the turn over rate is rather high and there is no guarantee that I will see the same faces from shift to shift. The time to help and make a connection is in the present, with Hospice you don’t often get second chances. That is not to say it never happens though.

Another nice aspect of being involved with Hospice is forming relationships with the social workers. Over the weekend when I was there I met a social work intern from UCF as well. She is in the Master’s program. It was great to have a chance to talk to her about school and the programs. She did Psychology as her undergrad and found that she was unable to do the kind of work she wanted to without a Master’s so she decided to study social work. I loved being able to pick her brain a bit and hear her stories and experiences in the program and in life.

I really wish I knew more people who were in the program or graduated from it. I really enjoy just hearing stories from the few people I have met along the way that were in UCF’s social work program. The social worker at Cherokee School, where I previously volunteered, was a great resource for information on the program but it had been so many years since she graduated that we both knew much had changed since then. I ran into a fellow school mate from high school a few years ago right when I was leaving the Hospital to go back to school full-time and discovered that she was just finishing up her Master’s in social work from UCF. I would have loved to have met her for coffee one day and gotten her take on everything, especially since she was interning at the Hospital in an area that I am interested in as a future career path. The whole encounter was very serendipitous. One problem though, she was currently dating my ex. In most cases this would be no problem at all but in the case of this ex it was. Which is unfortunate because I have always known her to be a nice girl, the few interactions I had with her over the years were always pleasant. In other circumstances I would have loved to have been able to follow-up with her and hear her stories and experiences.  I am sure that as time passes I will meet plenty of people from the program and have plenty of chances to share stories.

Next week is the park restoration project. I am very excited to see what is in store for us when we get there. I am quite sure this will be the most hands, down and dirty volunteer work I have ever tackled. There is something to be said for working with your hands in the earth though. Plus I am excited that in this case we will be able to physically see the difference we have made. In most cases you go in and offer help and just hope you made a difference without ever knowing for sure. This will be a fun change of pace.

 

Hospice Interview

ghandi

This evening my parents came over for dinner. After dinner we (Todd, my parents and myself) all played cards when suddenly I heard my phone ringing. Normally I would ignore it, as I was involved in something and to me that takes priority, whoever it is can leave a message and I will return the call. However, something told me this could be the call I was waiting for. I was right. It was a hospice employee calling to conduct my phone interview. It went very well, I really enjoyed the conversation I had with the worker. Now I am bursting with excitement to start training.

When explaining the possible career paths I am interested in after finishing school the hospice worker explained that the path I am interested in is very similar to her personal path. I immediately told her I would love the opportunity to talk more about her experiences if time allows in the future and she agreed.

I am very excited about this opportunity. This feels right to me and I am eager to learn and gain new experience.

Will you be there when I die?

My Uncle is a nurse in long-term in-patient facility. Every time I see him I ask him about work and his patients. I love listening to his stories, whether they are good or bad, because he is a man of strong character and he cares. He is in the profession for the right reasons and I admire him so much.

One thing I have learned about my Uncle through one of our conversations is, he is a “fixer”. He is there to help his patient’s heal, he wants to get them well and help them get back to their lives. He is not as.. I don’t know what word to use here.. comfortable, interested.. I am not sure how he would put it but I am going to say he is tepid about the idea of working with terminal patients because he is unable to make them better. I am sure if he were explaining his feelings on the matter he would better express his point than I am but that is the broad stroke picture.

Over the weekend I asked again about work and his patients. He explained that he had been moved to a new department where he now works with patients who are there for long-term care and are, more often than not, close to being at the end of their lives. He said he has loses more than he sends home (speaking about the patients he serves and cares for).

I asked him how that makes him feel being in this new role and dealing with the loss of these patients he has become close to. He talked about that for a little while and I listened. He told me a story about his patient Jean, she mentioned to him that she noticed he was always there when a patient passed on. At first he didn’t understand where she was going with this statement, I joked with him making an angel of death reference. He agreed saying that at first he thought Jean was trying to imply he was bad luck. She continued to explain that it was just an observation and it made her feel comfortable knowing he was always there because she knew things were taken care of when he was around. She then asked him, Will you be there when I die? He again wasn’t sure how to take her question. She explained to him it wasn’t a question it was a request and an invitation.

She wanted him to be present when she passed on because for her my uncle had become a comforting presence and she knew after she was gone he would take care of everything. I had to stop myself from tearing up. What an incredibly special request. Of all the things in our lives we will be requested to do what is more significant than that? Being present at the beginning of life and at the end is so special and meaningful. I was touched that she had asked for him.

I didn’t say this to him at the risk of sounding condescending but I hope he was able to see how much of an impact he can have on even those he can’t save. He certainly meant something to Jean.

hospice4-300x289

 

Not in the business of politics

spce

Is a little perspective too much to ask for? How about a level of courtesy or appropriateness? Politics became a hot button issue at work this week which to me seems utterly ridiculous because my job has nothing to do with politics!

Our owner has strong political convictions, this is immediately apparent when you walk into our office and hear all three TVs playing Fox News. We, the staff, are not allowed to touch the TVs other than to turn them on in the morning and off in evening after the last patient has left. If anyone asks for the channel to be changed, the volume to be turned down or the TV to be turned off we have to tell them no (this does not come up often luckily).  The bottom line is, the owner believes what he believes and stands up for his beliefs, I have never been able to fault him for that.

I am not politically minded at all. I do not care. I do not mean to sound complacent or indifferent. It is not that I do not care about what is going on in our country, I do. Especially when it concerns our relationships with other countries and certain social issues nationally. I do not care about the agenda of the two political parties though. My views do not fit neatly into a some predetermined mold and therefore I do not like the idea of being labeled and attached to a particular party. I do not think politicians (as a rule) care much about the population. They care about their jobs (specifically, keeping their jobs) so they pander to their party. I care about the issues, the real issues not the propaganda they try to scare you with on the news. I do not care for politics or politicians I also do not care to ever have a conversation about this topic. It is one area where, admittedly, I am a bit of cynic and that is not my norm. Anyway, the truth is, I find the topic rather dull.

This week we had a chatty patient in the office who kept trying to engage my co-worker and myself in a political debate. She was admiring the doctor’s patriotism as she called it and wanted to lecture us about how President Obama is going to be our nation’s downfall. Um no, not interested. Sorry.

It is a person’s right to do so if he/she feels so inclined, but I have never been interested in President bashing.

This patient, Miss Chatty Cathy, would not let up though and she would not take a hint. I kept politely smiling and occasionally giving a noncommittal response. She finally tried to put me on the spot and force me to engage her by calling me out saying something similar to ” You keep smiling and nodding at me but you have no idea the severity of what I am talking about.” Her tone was condescending as if I am just a child that does not understand the “real world”. (She was talking gloom and doom about the President’s healthcare policy.) I was quiet for a moment and then replied, “The world is full of problems, so to keep a level head I try to focus my energy on problems I can directly impact such as helping patients like yourself feel better.” She suddenly had nothing more to say.

I don’t care what the patient’s opinion is. Again, this topic does not interest me in the least and I am not easily offended by a person’s opinion on the matter because I have no horse in this race BUT.. I am always offended by blow hard’s that feel the need to force their opinion down everyone else’s throat. It’s ear rape. Get some perspective lady, all of what she was saying was based on opinion, not fact and what’s worse it was not even original thought. She was just spouting back what she has heard some other blow hard say.

 

Losing the “Care” in Healthcare

blog inspiration- jaded healthcare

There is no room for not caring in the healthcare field. This is not my opinion, this is a fact. And Frankly my dear, it’s not OK to not give a damn. Caring is one of the biggest parts of the job yet more and more I find myself face to face with an alarming level of apathy. I understand why it happens, in healthcare you are dealing with a specific population, the sick. You’re rarely going to treat a patient who isn’t coming to you with an issue, maybe with the exception of annual check-ups in a PCP’s office. So day in and day out you are responsible for fixing someone’s elses problem. To me working with the public in this way requires the highest level of customer service. I believe that is what patient care is, customer service on super steroids. There is no such thing as going “above and beyond”, there should be no above or beyond just what needs to be done getting done. And even that is enough, getting the job done is not enough. Doing the job well while creating a level of trust with your patient is crucial.

Here are some examples of what I have run into that rub me wrong..

Not using your name. This covers a lot of area. I hate calling an office and when I get a receptionist the greeting is, “Dr. X’s office”. When you call our office I answer the phone, “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening Thank you for calling xxxxx My name is Jill how may I help you?” Now I understand that is long-winded so I will lower the expectation, just give me your name. In healthcare I believe we should be held accountable for what we are telling our patient’s, how is that possible? By putting our name on it. This also applies to nurses and technologists, anyone who comes in contact with a patient should be introducing themselves. If you are speaking to this patient you are now involved in their care, even if it is on a small level, own it. It is the polite thing to do and more importantly it is the right thing to do.

Negative Talk. What I mean by this is, when we are unable to do something for a patient I do not focus on what we CAN’T do, I focus on what we CAN do. I will call an office for something, like clinical notes let’s say, if they are not ready I get that but give me an ETA. Don’t just answer the phone without giving me your name, say they are not ready and hang up on me. Crap, I am not even your patient but now I know I wouldn’t want to be. Instead, how about this.. A patient calls and wants to schedule a dexa scan (this is not a test we do).. Some offices would say “Sorry we don’t do dexa scans” and be done with it, well that doesn’t really help this patient does it? Ok so maybe we can’t do the scan but I can at least educate them and lead them in the right direction. “At xxxxx we specialize in MRI and CT so unfortunately we do not have the equipment for the test you require. May I suggest you call your referring Doctor’s office to find out if there is a facility they like to use for this type of test.” That was not that much more work but here is what it does for that patient, it lets them know what we can do for them if they ever need us in the future and it keeps them from chasing their tell for the next hour. A patient could spend an hour or more calling around to different facilities trying to find out who does the test they need when quite often their doctor’s office knows which facility does what and is able to advise them cutting out all the work. If that is not the case, they are no worse off but at least you tried to make things easier for them.

Defensiveness and back talk when met with a difficult patient or circumstance. You cannot take things personal in this field!! I cannot stress that enough to people, and that rings true for any career that requires you to work directly with the public. Our patients are sick, they are in pain, they just got done with a round of chemo and now we are calling them wanting them to list all the surgeries they have ever had. They are worn out and worn down and entitled to a bad day, do not take it personal. And in some cases you get the patient who truly does just have a difficult personality to handle, I think some people enjoy arguing for sport. That’s fine, but don’t get pulled in. It still isn’t personal, it has nothing to do with you, none of it does, these patient’s don’t even know you. And no matter how difficult or rude they might be they still deserve your best. Every single patient deserves your best.

 

This is a topic I have felt strongly about since starting in this field 5 years ago. I think everyone has had to deal with a jaded healthcare worker at some point or another and to me there is no greater crime than complacency in this field. It is not fair to those we serve, if you’re done and you have had enough, then move on. Go on to the next thing, this is not the kind of work you do for a paycheck, at least it isn’t supposed to be.

 

Utterly Run Down

heart break

Today was a long day. I was up at 5:15, out the door by 6:30 and did not return again until after 5:30 in the evening. We were short-handed at work and had twice the call and fax volume as yesterday not to mention most of my day was spent putting out fires. It felt as though I was dealing with nothing but issues and complications today. None of this has anything to do with why I cannot get out of my own head tonight though.

We diagnosed a patient with cancer today. Moments like these are what stay with me over the years. Being a part of someone elses life changing moment gets burned into you. It leaves an imprint. I ache inside for this woman.

I am completely humbled by it all. Suddenly you are standing there in the midst of a person’s ground zero, suddenly the smallest thing can mean so much. I am ripped open emotionally by these moments but they are so significant and it’s when kindness and compassion are most important. Whether it is offering to help with whatever small thing needs to be done in that moment to providing a shoulder to cry on or a hand to hold.

I recorded Atonement off the TV a few days ago and watched it after work tonight in a feeble attempt to distract myself from the day. As I watched my mind kept wandering back to our patient though. Is she OK? Does she have family surrounding her tonight? Will she be able to sleep after getting such terrible news? I hope so, with my whole heart I do.

 

I carry my soap box with me

Todd is not an activist, it’s not that he doesn’t care about social issues, he just doesn’t get riled up enough to vent and take action. This is an area where we differ greatly. I get riled up. I see discrimination or something that isn’t right and I pull out my soap box and go off. He jokes that I carry my soap box with me everywhere I go just in case I need to jump on it. I guess I do. I am sure for those of you that have read certain posts I have put out there you have noticed this about me. I have opinions, opinions I will voice. At the same time though I believe in being respectful. My opinions are not everyone’s opinions, I am aware of this, and I am not arrogant enough to believe that just because I have a certain opinion that it is necessarily right. It is just my perspective on a certain situation, it is what I believe to be right or wrong and it is subjective. Which is why I voice my opinions here, or with Todd or anywhere else where the time and place are appropriate. I would never force my opinions on anyone just like I do not want other’s opinions forced upon me.

With all of this being said, I am mounting my soap box because I have something to say.

Yesterday afternoon while on break I was listening to a radio show I always listen to, they cover news topics. It is not exactly the news, just a talk show that covers certain stories and it is more for entertainment value. So yesterday they were talking about this new app that was created by a couple of women that allows other women to log-in through FB and rate/comment on the men they have been with. Whether it is ex-boyfriend’s, flings, or any other guy that they have come in contact with in their lives. As far as I can tell there is no regulation forcing these women to be honest, they can go in and say whatever they want about these guys and there is no recourse available to the men. It is done anonymously (we already know how I feel about that). There is apparently a picture of the guy posted with his name and God knows what written about him.

How is this not cyber bullying??? How in the hell is this app allowed to exist?! This is a colossal invasion of privacy and if I were one of these guys I would be looking into my legal rights.

I am ashamed of the women that are actually participating on this app.

OK, so maybe a guy broke your heart, I get that I have had my heart-broken, but this is not the way to deal with it.

Maybe it isn’t that the guy broke your heart, maybe he is just a prick and you feel an obligation to warn other women. I get that too, there are plenty of pricks out there, but again this is not the way.

I don’t care what your reason is for wanting to dog this guy out or exact some kind of revenge, THIS IS NOT THE WAY.

THIS IS WRONG.

I was so infuriated listening to them talk about what this app is about. I went online to learn more about exactly what we are talking about with this thing and it is every bit as bad as it sounds. I read some of the  comments about it which to my relief were mostly negative and were posted from both men and women. One was from a girl who said her Dad ended up on there and random people were just going in and saying nasty things about him. She couldn’t do anything to get him taken down. How awful!

I am completely disgusted but even more than that I am just sad.  Is this really what we are coming to? How cool would it have been if this app came out and everyone saw it for what it is was and completely rejected it? Once again this idealist is let down. This isn’t how we should be treating each other. I have been let down by men, I’ve been lied to, I have had my heart-broken but I do not wish anything but good things to each one of those men and I have gone out of my way to let them know that. Harboring ill-will is just allowing a cancer to fester in your soul. In trying to hurt them you are also hurting yourself.

The Eruptive feelings of an INFP

I have made mention before of how strong I score on the “F” part of my INFP personality. I have also mentioned through much work I have become better at controlling my emotions, negative especially. A few minutes ago I burst into tears at my desk because of something I saw online and while this is not uncommon for me anyone other than Todd that would have walked into the room at that moment would probably be completely befuddled by my current state.

At times I can become deeply effected by the sights, sounds, smells and other sensory details of my environment. For example, I can be driving along and everything is great. Maybe I got an A on an exam that day and was very successful by my standards at work and am on my way to meet Todd for date night. Then all of a sudden Let It Be comes on the radio and I am crying. Not sob crying but crying none the less. This song does this to me every time because of the association my brain makes with a memory that is sad. Anyone who sees this situation from the outside would be lost. “Wait, you had a great day? What’s wrong with you?” The answer is nothing. I just cannot help but be impacted. My emotions are strong and can come on without warning and there I am crying in the car.

The reason I bring this up is because today while on Pinterest looking for an  Ellen Degeneres quote about compassion that I like I came across something that led me immediately to tears.

What I was looking for was this, compassion

 

 

 

What I found first was this, lennox.

 

I just started crying. Poor Lennox. Even as I read this he is no longer here. Poor thing probably never even knew what was going on. I am sure some people think this is ridiculous but it is really that easy.

Yesterday when I was driving home from work I drove by a park near my house and braked as a man who looked to be in his early thirties crossed the street to the park. When he got to the side-walk I watched him put both arms in the air. I was puzzled. That was until I looked a little further down the sidewalk and saw the happiest toddler hobble-running towards his daddy, his little blue super hero cape blowing in the wind. The sheer look of jubilation on this little boys face from seeing his daddy just hit me. I just got to witness a private moment between this father and son and it meant something. As that little boy gets older I bet Daddy will never forget the special moments like that.

And this season on Project Runway (my favorite show) I cried during the finale when I Heidi announced my favorite designer had not won. I felt for him in the moment so much. He was the sweetest thing, so gentle and kind. He is the kind of person that you just want everything wonderful for. When he went back stage to see his family his mother told him how well he did and how proud she was of him and how just by being himself he made so many people fall in love with him and she was right. We, as a society, and moreover as a human race, are lucky for the gentle ones. The people who do not take, who never ask for anything and only want to give of themselves. It was impossible not to fall in love with the sweetness and the sincerity of his character.

In a previous post about my former battle with acute depression I made mention of how I have gotten a handle on my emotional outbursts but that I still cry pretty regularly but that I am OK with that because sometimes I just need to let things out. This is exactly what I am talking about. Small things like this, everyday things invoke such a strong emotional response from me I cannot control it. Furthermore it feels unnatural and wrong when I do. It is not a sad cry it is just me being effected by my environment and allowing myself to feel.

“True Compassion is about not bruising the other person’s self-respect”.

I am reading The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida right now and it is extraordinary. Naoki Higashida is a 13-year-old from Japan who has autism, this book is him explaining what it is like to live with autism. He answers questions that are quite direct like “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking to me?” with such honesty and so articulately that it allows the reader to see the world in a completely new perspective. I find myself completely consumed while reading, hanging on every word. It gives new insight to my relationship with my nephew and what it must be like to view the world from his perspective.

I am happy to report that I not only made it through my few days back at work in tact but I surpassed even my own expectations for myself. The first day back I helped by answering phones and either placing calls on hold for the girls or taking the call if the request was something I felt comfortable doing. I limited myself to film requests and things of this nature. I wanted to take notes and be more like a fly on the wall the first day back, just taking things in and letting the memory of these skills come back to me.

The second day back I began scheduling “easy” scans. What constitutes an “easy scan”?

a single MRI (versus multiple scans ordered for the same patient)

No CTs (certain CT scans have very detailed instructions for the patient and require a lot of follow-up by our office)

“Easy” Insurance (Which just means either insurance that does not require authorization for an MRI or insurance that gives authorization without a lot of extra work on the part of the facility, such as providing clinical notes etc)

And finally the diagnosis.. There are a lot of contraindications for MRI scans so we go through a long list of clinical questions to make sure it is safe for a patient to have an MRI. If I see a diagnosis like “S/P aneurysm SX x 3 mos” this tells me that this patient more than likely had aneurysm clips implanted in their brain in the last 3 months which means I am going to have to do some research about this surgery and the clips used to make sure it is safe for the patient to go on the machine. Where as a diagnosis of “HA” tells me the patient is being seen for headaches and hopefully when I call I am not going to find out that they have any medical issues that will be a contracindication.

Now, this is not to say that any patient, scan, diagnosis or insurance that does not fall in these guidelines is “difficult” per say, it just means that a little more work or attention to detail is required during and after scheduling and it is not something you give to the “new” girl. I need to brush up on some “easier” scans before I take on everything else just to ensure I do not make any errors. This is for the safety of the patients, the efficiency and liability of the facility and my own butt. Because ultimately “I didn’t know” or “Sorry I am new” is not an excuse if I forget an important detail and a patient ends up in harm’s way or the facility is put in a compromising position.

By the third day I was scheduling anything and everything that came across my desk, with acute accuracy I might add! The few mistakes I did make I caught on my own and corrected which felt great. It feels so good to get back into the swing of things. I love the scheduling process. I love being on the phone with the patients, building rapport, listening to their stories, and just helping. I love building this relationship with the patient during the scheduling process and then getting to meet and help them in person when they come for their scan. It is what makes this job for me. All the other nonsense that has ever come with it was worth it for this part of the job.

It was a great first week back. There is a lot of work to do and I am excited about digging in and getting it done.

School is going OK as well. We do not have class on Tuesday due to a conflict in the instructor’s schedule, however, she loaded us down with assignments for the weekend to make up for the loss of class time. My girlfriend from class and I decided to get together this morning to pound out the assignments. It took us no time to get through everything.

Tonight we are going out for Todd’s birthday, I am very excited. I love going out with him, we have so much fun just the two of us but it is nice when we have the chance to go out with friends as well. It will be a fun way to cap off a busy week.

Impenetrable

No matter how hard we work at life, no level of achievement (internal or external) will ever raise us so high as to be beyond judgement. I had an epiphany while reading this week. A former professor published a book about striving for authenticity, the subject matter suits me perfectly. I agreed to do a book review for him so I have been rereading certain chapters as a way of getting my thoughts together before I begin writing the review.

I have had my fair share of negative critiques in life. This is to be expected, navigating your teens and twenties is a dangerous business, few make it out without some scars. I know for a fact that I have been to blame for emotional scars on others and I acquired a few of mine own as well. I have regret about those I hurt and know that it was not done with intention or malice. I was not, am not and never will be perfect however so all I can do is own my mistakes, apologize for injuries I have caused, learn and grow. The first two I have covered, the second two will always be a work in progress.

The challenge is

– Knowing which critiques are worth processing and which are not worth the time.

– Not always feeling the need to defend ourselves or our actions.

– Understanding that while we may have good intentions in life that is not true for everyone. Some people are just being cruel or catty, do not dwell. Their words have less to do with us and more with them.

– Forgiving those who do mean us harm in their words. They need it.

In life we will always face a level of criticism whether it has foundation or not. The ultimate goal is to face judgement, whether it has constructive benefit or not, and not lose our self-confidence over it. Learn from it, grow from it, but do not allow someone’s harsh words shake you into self-doubt.

Our hands are collectively dirty

I had my first spanish test today and I am pretty sure I will be getting an A. I went crazy studying (as I always do with the first test in any class) and I don’t think half of the material I covered even appeared on the exam. Oh well, I would rather over compensate than come up short.

In spanish my professor helps us understand third person subject pronouns by saying they are used when you are gossiping, when you talking about someone. When I was driving home from class today this got me thinking…

A bit of truth, I am human therefore I gossip. But hey so are you, making us all guilty in this together. I bet you are thinking, “Wait pump the breaks, I am no gossip”. That’s cool, I do not consider myself a gossip either. I am not back-biting, I am not malicious or drama seeking, all these characteristics that come to mind when you throw the word gossip out there. My form of gossip consists of sharing information with my close friends.

Here is the thing, gossip and slander do not always go hand in hand, one does not necessarily equate to the other. Gossip is just talking about other people and their business. Sharing that someone is pregnant, that a friend got a new job, that your sister got engaged, that your friend’s father passed away, these are examples of gossip. Gossip can absolutely be catty, venomous and hurtful as well. Look at rumors or even information based on fact. So someone did something that others would look on negatively, it is their business no one elses.

I had never really considered any of this before. No girl wants to be labeled a gossip but we all are. The vast majority of us are regardless of gender, religion, sexuality, race. It is human nature making it universal. When I first started uncovering the layers of what I am really talking about here I had to stop in order to absorb it. I started thinking about the stuff that I talk about with my close girlfriends, water cooler talk at past jobs, idle talk with my family.. This recent cognition certainly makes me more aware of what comes out of my mouth. No one can get through life without using the words, he, she , they etc, which means we always talk about each other. I plan to be more cognizant of it though, especially when talking about the hes, shes and theys that I long ago decided were not worth my time, they are not worth my words either.

How to make a point

I had no intention on posting an entry today. My inspiration was not in writing. Instead it was taking me towards painting, which is exactly what I was doing when my blissful silence was broken by a knock at the door.

I heard “shave-and-a-haircut” and of course my first reaction was slight panic for reasons I have stated in previous posts but then I assumed it was my father as that is his knock. This would not be unusual, he has Mondays off and if he was in the area he would absolutely stop by. What was unusual is that he hadn’t called, he would normally call. I considered going to put on something more appropriate as I was bra-less (as I often am when I am home alone for the day without plans for visitors) but decided against it convinced it was just Daddy. I got to the door and looked out the peep-hole to discover I was wrong, much to my dismay. It was our persistent neighborhood religious salesman with a new friend. I would take me a few minutes to go to the back of the house, change into something appropriate and get back to the front door to speak with them so I decided against it. Instead I did something that absolutely infuriated me, I hid behind my front door until they left.

I am exasperated. I feel that I have no choice but to be the person I have not wanted to be during encounters with this man. I do not want to be rude or threatening, I do not want to be the kind of person that hides behind my front door from someone. I want to be able to be honest and respectful in order to relay my message and I want to be respected in return.  The woman who accompanied him on his visit last week understood and appreciated my honesty, however he said nothing during our last encounter after I made my feelings clear so I assume he has chosen to ignore my wishes. So what next?? How do I make my point without becoming this person I have tried so hard not to be? It was difficult enough for me to be as honest as I was the last time because I was concerned about offending them! This man clearly does not care that I feel offended and violated.

I am going to have to give this some thought because clearly I can expect a future visit from him. What I think upsets me most is the disruption to my creative process. I am agitated and now have to try to not only calm down, which I will be able to do easy enough, but also get back into a state of mind that has been shattered. Booger.

Follow up to “Being in the closet”

The religious salesman came knocking at my door again this morning. The same one from before. I was satisfied with how I handle his first visit because I was polite, listened to his message and accepted his material. Had I known that my quiet politeness was going to be misconstrued as willingness to accept future visits I would have still be polite but vocal about no future need for information.

Heres the thing, annoyance about this interruption in otherwise quiet, productive day does not just stem from not wanting to buy what he is trying to sell me. My annoyance exists on many levels,

1. When I know I have no reason to leave the house on any given day chances are I am not gonna bother with a bra. – It’s just me and the furniture, there is really no need to get gussied up.

2. Relating to number one, I may wait to take a shower until 3:00 if I feel so inclined.

3. We had a violent crime take place in our neighborhood a few months ago, unexpected knocks at my door rattle me a bit.

4. This is my “me time”, I don’t like to be bothered regardless of what it is.

The fact that he shoving religion in my face just intensifies my annoyance with the interruption, it isn’t the true cause of my annoyance.

So, there I was, sitting in my old scraggly Counting Crows t-shirt and worn out gym shorts, bra-less of course, hair in a knot on my head, coffee cup in hand, watching a Ted Talk on Introversion, when I hear “knock – knock” at the front door. My first reaction is a slight pang of fear followed by agitation. I get up, throw on a maxi dress (sans bra), and head for the door. I peek through my peep-hole to see the friendly neighborhood religion salesman and sigh, I realized it is time for me to come out of the closet to this man.

I opened the door to, “Hi Jill! Do you remember me I was here the other day” as he is handing me two new brochures on why everything I choose to believe in is wrong. I smile politely and say, “Yes of course, good morning.” He starts in on his spiel and I stop him, “I’m sorry I should have mentioned this the last time you were here as I certainly do not want to waste your time or gas money, we are not religious and your visits are actually a bit of an imposition. I appreciate and respect what you believe and what you do and hope that you will respect our position as well. I am happy to accept your pamphlets today but ask that you respect our privacy going forward and take our home off of your route.” He was accompanied by a lady today and she was surprisingly appreciative of my honesty, commenting on how she wished more people would just be honest as these visits do eat into their gas and time. I accepted his information again and wished them luck with their mission and thanked them for their understanding.

This encounter went incredibly well and to me is just a testament to what I have said before, there is no need for the harsh line that is drawn between believers and non-believers. We should all be respectful of each other’s beliefs regardless of what they are.

Emotional Intelligence

When I was in high school 10+ years ago a lot of emphasis was put on IQ, GPA, SAT Scores, etc. Never did I hear anything about EQ, however. EQ is a person’s emotional intelligence level. This is what we are looking at in terms of emotional intelligence:

Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:

  • Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
  • Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
  • Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.

At my core I have always considered myself kind, mature, moral, essentially filled with important attributes that can lead to emotional maturity and ultimately emotional intelligence but I was not there, nowhere near actually.

My break through came while I was in grief counseling 3 years ago. As good of a person as I have tried to be in my life and as good as my intentions had been yp to that point the truth is, I was walking around in the dark. My counseling began with my grief and not being able to cope with an important loss, but as I healed the counseling continued. The first ray of light came when my counselor pointed out that in everything that goes wrong in a person’s life there is always one common denominator, the person. I am the constant. There for I am the link to everything that is ever going to go right or wrong for me. I will always play a part in these things. This is why I believe with conviction I have never been a victim to anyone or any situation. I, for the first time in my 27 years, was able to see my part in everything that had ever happened in my life. It seemed like such a small thing, this sudden self-awareness, but it came down on me like a ton of bricks.

I am the common denominator to everything that will ever happen in my life, chew on that for a minute, really digest it. It is a statement that can change your entire outlook on life, it did for me. Thus began my journey towards self-actualization.

I went from blaming my ex-boyfriends for past relationships not working out to realizing, well I had an undiagnosed anxiety disorder so I am sure that didn’t make anything easier. I was, for the first time, able to see things from the point of view of the person who hurt me. That doesn’t take any guilt off of their hands per say, it just allowed me to see the guilt on mine as well.

The next step in counseling was to work on managing my feelings. As an INFP I am loaded with emotions and controlling them has not always been easy, especially in times of duress such as my bout with depression. So I learned tools to help. Ultimately my self-awareness is what has changed me the most. Since everything that took place in my life three years ago I have been on a mission to work on myself and improve my life. I have been self-correcting and eliminating bad habits in an effort to become the person I know I meant to be. I want to feel complete and I know that all the work I have been doing on myself, internally and externally will help me reach my life goal.

One thing I am incredibly thankful for is that Todd came into my life during this transition process. He saw me at the tail end of something bad and has been my biggest cheerleader as I work towards my something better. Everything I have learned about myself and others I have been able to apply to our relationship. This is why our communication is so good and we never fight. We understand each other at the core of who the other is and we accept and support each other. I have never had this level of understanding from any relationship in my life, that includes with my own family, although my brother does come close. That is a great feeling, just to be understood.

 

In spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart.

autistic hate letter

 

If you have not heard about this hate letter sent to the grandmother of an autistic child here is the link to the story.

Ontario family shocked after receiving letter from neighbour telling them to ‘euthanize’ autistic son

 

My sister-in-law showed me this story yesterday when my family came over for our weekly dinner. It is taking a while for me to sort out my feelings about it. After reading the actual letter my most fundamental reaction was shock and anger and that is not just because my nephew is autistic, I think most people would feel one of those two emotions after reading something steeped in that much hate.

I had a lot of questions, not necessarily for my sister-in-law just in general. After talking it out the initial conclusion I drew is that this woman lacks empathy. That in itself surprises me really. One of my first questions was “how, as a mother, is she able to harbor that much resentment towards a child? a disabled child at that?” I was working under the presumption that most mothers would be able to put themselves in the shoes of that child’s mother and consider how they would feel if it was their child in that position. Well without empathy you are unable to do that. The woman also seems to have a strong sense of entitlement. At the bottom of all of it though what we are really looking at it is ignorance. She is no different from any other bigot out there, she is just targeting an autistic child versus the gay community, those of different races or religions etc.

It is sad to follow yesterdays post about longing for a sense of community and brotherhood with a post that holds an example of such a stark contrast to that ideal. I was just saying how there are so many of us that have good in our hearts and want to take care of each other, this woman is out to prove me wrong. But fear not, this idealist is not easily dispirited. I would never dream of sharing such hateful news without providing a silver lining of hope. Ironically, it is the following news link that made me cry, not the previous.

Here is our silver lining.. “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.” – Anne Frank

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/moments-that-restored-our-faith-in-humanity-this-y