What is Our Perceived Value?


You get up and go to work every day. You do the best job you know how with the direction and parameters established. You are abused by your coworkers regularly, and to top it off, you haven’t been paid in two months. Would I put up with it? No way. I do however know someone who does. Why? The dilemma is this person works with family. The mother asks her child not to leave, Dad hires a business coach to help, one brother is passive/aggressive, the other a tyrant. How do you get out from under this predicament?

After graduating college with a degree that will never translate in the real world, you go to work with family to learn the family business. Your older brother treats you like you’re 12 and incapable of making an adult decision, doesn’t mentor you in any area, doesn’t even show you a financial statement and keeps everything close to his vest. The other brother never says a word, not a peep, and the father is trying his best to keep the peace and get everyone working together. Out of college for 7 years, you have learned nothing from your involvement with the family business and may be a wee bit trapped because the family business has taught you nothing about the business, and everything about dysfunction. It’s your family that is keeping you down. What do you put on your resume when seeking work elsewhere?

It’s easy to cut ties with a company that doesn’t value your contributions, and seriously a company that doesn’t pay you should be gone the first time you don’t get paid, but how do you cut ties to a business where the lines between family and work are blurred? It’s the stuff movies are made of.

The real issue here is what does this do to your personal perception of your value? You are aware enough to know you haven’t really learned any skills that are portable. You probably start to feel worthless wondering around looking for a way to make contributions.

It’s hard when you are young and you interview and the potential employer says they are looking for experience. How do you get experience if no one will hire you? The scenario above is a double whammy; you have worked for the family business for seven years and still have no real experience.

I would imagine the complex dynamics would drain your self-confidence and weigh on you daily. You know you have to do something but how do you do it without ruining the family dynamic? I am old enough to know the family dynamic comes after my own mental, physical, and workplace health. I don’t define myself by my job, although I like it and make many contributions, it simply pays the bills…and the wonderful things outside my job, my volunteerism, my friends, my art, my contributions to my fellow man, these things define who I am. Without my job I would worry about how to pay the bills, but I would not view myself as any less.

If you feel worthless at work, are trapped by family and know you have to make a change but are paralyzed by it all, what’s the toll this takes on how you view yourself overall? The skills you know you had when you left college are languishing in the dark, your perception of yourself devolves as each day passes, and the end is never in sight.

Self-confidence and self-worth are bolstered daily as we have small and large successes in our lives. Where these successes happen, work, home, or socially matters not as long as they happen in all these settings at some point. It’s these moments that bring a small inner smile to our souls knowing we had a moment. If you don’t have these flashes during the eight or more hours you spend at work, when you leave there is nothing to look forward to when you go back the next day, and you have to go back because you can’t find another job.
By allowing ourselves to be defined by our workplace, we may suffer in a setting that eats away at our inner selves. No one would deny it is important when we go to work we feel we can make a contribution, have a pleasant experience, and know we are earning our pay. It is equally important that we view our value in broader terms or we may never be able to climb out of that dark endless tunnel of self-doubt…which in the end may be the only thing that keeps us one step from the edge.

Cut and Paste Lives


If you follow politics at all you know Virginia is one of those red states that is sometimes blue, and looking to be purple.  Today, I added purple to my hair. I live in Virginia where the election rhetoric and hyperbole has exceeded even my low expectations. My eye twitches every time there is a commercial for a politician. I swore I wasn’t going to write about it or comment on it, but I can’t seem to help myself. The lies and truths have become interchangeable, or indistinguishable, and the voters are the ones who are punished. The same political ads using the same arguments are running daily here, and thank goodness I have a dvr and can fast forward through them all. Sometimes I listen to politicians and wonder where they learned how to sway people to their side?  Or, maybe that’s not a skill they have?

A lot of people are usually too busy, or too lazy, to drill down and determine the truth of a political statement. I can tell because rather than do their own homework, people plagiarize and post identical words about the same issue. It seems it must be easier to cut and paste then get to the truth. Aren’t they just repeating someone else’s words when they do that vs. forming their own opinions?

I am a person who tries very hard to respect the opinion of others. I recognize we all come with unique life experiences, and that’s what shapes our ideals. I can’t tell someone they are wrong for believing in things that are anathema to me; they came to their beliefs on a different path. But if someone can’t determine if the facts are real, why bother to hold an “opinion”?

My father and I had wildly opposite political views. He was conservative, I was liberal. As a child I would be grounded for wearing a peace sign anywhere. Now I proudly wear one every day, without fail. It’s a daily conscious decision to put one on and know I am ardently opposed to war. When I entered my teen years, he realized he couldn’t sway me. It was a tie. Through the many arguments my dad and I had, some quite powerful, the end was always the same, we agreed to disagree. Was this because we were related? Not bloody likely, that’s never held much sway with me. It’s because my essential self recognized he would never be swayed based on anything I said so why destroy the fragile peace? And if I was relentless, was that disrespecting his experiences?

I’ve always liked this characteristic of mine, agreeing to disagree, knowing it allows me to have a varied group of friends with divergent opinions and outlooks. And diverse my friends are. I have one friend who has been called evil by another set of friends; I have one friend that used the word stupid to describe another friend who is both an attorney, and a senator; I have friends who call another set of friends bleeding hearts that are tearing the country apart. It is never dull.

These disparaging remarks about my friends demand a response and always includes words of defense…in a nice way. The senator who is an attorney is in no way stupid, and as I told my friend who said she was, “She is a friend of mine, I disagree with her all the time so please disagree if you want, but do so based on facts or opinion, name-calling doesn’t further your argument, especially when it simply isn’t true. And since you haven’t met her, why would you use that word? Simply because your politics are different?” She called me the next day to thank me for calling her out and said I was right, name-calling was beneath her and she apologized for doing so when talking about my friend. It was a splendid moment for both of us. And, the person who was called evil would drop everything to come help me, all I need to do is ask. Where is the evil in that?

What we fail to recognize when we discount the opinions of others is they have different life experiences. When we cut and paste our opinions, we do a disservice to everyone. As a young man I know said today, he wants to be friends with Republicans, and he should. Imagine how dull life would be if everyone came down on the same side of every issue? That is not my idea of Utopia.

What we need to do is stop being a cut and paste society and develop our own opinions.  We can then compromise on the most important things in life. Our politicians would like us to follow like sheep but where’s the fun in that?

Peace.

NaBloPoMo November-I’m In…in a tiny way


I haven’t written in this blog in an age. Why? Well, I wondered who I was reaching with my writings. I am a tiny writer in a tiny town, writing about things that affect my tiny life. The urge to live large infects everyone at some point in their lives, but, I actually have no interest in living large…I like tiny. I like the fact that my actions and words reach a small group in meaningful ways.

Because there may or may not be worth in the words I generate (the jury is still out for me), I have spent the last year as a commentator at large papers, websites, issue oriented blogs. I have thousands of words saved that have been a reaction to others writings. I was in that mood where I felt reacting to what others are writing may give my words more impact vs. writing my tiny blog from my tiny town.

But, it is NaBloPoMo November, a challenge to bloggers to write a blog a day in November, and, YIKES, there is a word count involved! So I’m going to try to see if somewhere in this personal national commitment, I can turn out a few writings that have relevance to someone outside my realm. I may not make the word count commitment, I do after all, recognize my own limitations, but I will make the 30 days of posts, if it kills me. It is a grand exercise in structure and obligation. If you want, come along for the ride. The blogging world is full of amazingly talented writers and hopefully you will spend a wee bit of time getting to know them.

There are suggested topics as part of this community activity, but I’m probably going to ignore them. I never liked getting a topic and filling a page, a real shortcoming of mine. This is why for the last year I have been doing just that, picking a topic and responding. It has been a lesson for me, the writing to others vs. writing to me. Responding to a subject started by someone else has been a trial on most days. I search and search for themes that interest me on any given day. I stare at all sorts of random writing until the words blur searching for topics and feel let down when nothing strikes my fancy. My words to me resonate with me, words to others must resonate with them, oh the pressure.

While I have been roaming the internet looking for subjects to comment on, I have noticed something distressing. The landscape of comments has become a frightening place to stopover. Hate, vitriol, racism, misogyny, name-calling, insults, and a real lack of respect are the order of the day. The ability to create an anonymous nickname has let loose a torrent of unrepentant bullies. We no longer agree to disagree, we can’t accept that others views may differ without dropping in words that would curl your hair.

I once made a comment supporting women’s reproductive rights and a 30-something guy compared me to a slave owner, and I didn’t say anything other than I have no right to tell another woman what to do with her body. I was stunned, offended, angry and hurt. This young man knows nothing about me but was quick, within 30 seconds of my comment, to define me as a slave owner! Ouch.

We live in an inflexible environment where respecting the views of others is passé. We comment anonymously calling people stupid, liars, uneducated, low-information, baby killers, takers, evil, and the list goes on and on.

When did we become a society of bullies, name callers, of my way or no way? When did we lose that sense of community where you may not agree, but everyone is your neighbor?

We call attention to bullying in so many areas related to youth yet spend our anonymous time acting like what we preach against. What are we teaching our children with this behavior?

Living tiny in my tiny town, I worry about those trying to live large by name calling and bullying. I worry about those who feel there are no consequences to behavior because it’s all anonymous so who’s going to know. Please tell me I’m not the only one who worries?

erasing your life…or parts of it anyway


Sadly, today I learned of a young man’s death.  Inexplicable to all including his wife and young daughter.  Events such as these make us
re-evaluate our life.  For me there are two things wrong with this…

First, why do we always wait until some tragedy strikes for self-reflection?  I try at least annually to look where I have been and where I might be going.  I evaluate where my volunteer hours are going, what I might be contributing, but my overall life takes a back seat to living life.  So, do we spend our “current”
life assessing what we are doing?  Would that impede any forward progress?  Who knows, some days I may say yes “live in the now” other times I may be more reflective.  Looking at our life introspectively too much may make us forget what our now is.  Not looking enough may make us forget what our tomorrow may be.

Secondly, do we change things because we believe they hold no value?  I am a serial volunteerer.  If I change that about me, and I change as a reaction to a tragedy, are my changes real or just reactionary?  Who benefits from this change and who suffers?  Of course, I could change and decide I like doing my laundry and that change would benefit me, and I don’t really see a down side to others but, that particular change is too much of a commitment for me to contemplate.

Today I took a look at my life as if it was a big chalkboard with my life schematic drawn out.  I decided I need a really big eraser.

Bigotry or Free Press


My local newspaper has decided it is their mission to continuously post editorials and cartoons that portray Muslim Americans in a horrifically biased and hate-filled way.  I respect the right of anyone to support their political views be they liberal or conservative, but do they have the right to print ugly rhetoric that paints all people who are Muslims are extremists bent on jihad? 

Some might say that is their right; that this is America and we have freedom of the press and freedom of speech.  I would fight forever to protect free speech/press.  But, to shade all Muslims in such a dark and ugly way is not a political view, it’s religious bigotry or maybe even ethnic racism. 

To say every Christian follows the tenets of the Bible is untrue.  To say every Jew follows the tenets of Tanach would also be a lie.  To say every Buddhist, Bahá’í, Jehovah Witness, Krishna, Hindu follows every word of their holy doctrine would be a lie.  To paint all people of a faith with the same brush is pure rubbish and does harm to the human community.

So, does a public newspaper have the right to paint all Muslims as extremists or jihadists? 

I think not.  I think it shows them for the bigots they are.

Do we get to define failure for ourselves?


So, you change jobs because you feel it’s not the right job for you; you break up with your partner because it’s just not working; you move to a different crowd of friends because you feel the current group doesn’t really help you move forward. Are these actions as failure?

I recently quit a job because I felt it wasn’t the right job for me.  I like the owner so very much and I believe in the mission of the company but the job and its responsibilities just didn’t seem to fit.  Am I a failure because I took a job and didn’t stay? In this economy, should I have tried harder, stayed even though I wasn’t the right person for the job? I worried about that for a bit and then decided no. In the long run, I have to do what is best for me and it just so happened it was best for the company too.

I think as a society we determine and judge success and failure using such youthful standards. Did we get an A? Were you invited? Are you popular? Did you make a bunch of money? These all sound like the questions we asked in high school yet they are the same questions asked as adults we just use a different language.

Instead of “Did we get an A?” we may be asked, “Are you at the top of your game?” In lieu of “Did you get invited?” we may hear “Will I see you at Bill’s event?” Did you make a bunch of money can be asked in so many ways subtle and not so subtle….”What neighborhood do you live in? What car do you drive? Nice LV handbag…subtle and not so subtle.

We need, on a humanistic level, to change our questions to reflect how actions feed our souls. I personally don’t care how much money someone makes, I care if they are happy.  I don’t care where a person lives since I don’t define them by their house, I am happy for someone if they have a successful moment defined by them not by their boss or by society. I am in awe of the person who consistently starts a sentence with “I love that you…….”

I love that my friends don’t define me by any of the “normal” standards.

How do we get caught up?


I took a class on the basics of blogging.  I wrote a few entries and now it appears a year has gone by and while I was caught up in work, life and other stuff, words have flown by and I missed their very existence.  Who knew I would miss this so much and yet be unable to find my way back for so long?  I am saddened by my own indifference.

 I believe the written word is the lifeblood of humanity.  Whether the words mean something personal to us or not, someone wrote those words we read and expressed something of value.  We don’t have to agree, comment or even like the words we read but they are there.  We live in times where a simple sentence can bring a person to tears; can make someone laugh or be a pivotal moment of change.  Words are our history and the future.

 So I am back, reading and hopefully writing and even if my words hold no value for others, they are mine and have meaning.

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