Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Choice is Yours

There are days when I'd rather poke my eyeballs out than hear the rhetoric and pontificating that folks deliver on a daily basis. Days when I want to give the "you gotta be kidding me face" to everyone with a seemingly frivolous opinion or an unreasonable request. On occasion, it shows. Yes, I give the "Gas Face" to people like they have a bad case of "The Vapors". (ode to my old school Hip Hop lovers). I digress.

I would be lying if I said I've handled every situation in my life with love and dignity. I have this gift if you will...some of you may posses it as well. I have the ability to turn someones gray sky blue and frown upside down with my demeanor. I can give comfort with the tone of my voice or a few kind words. Unfortunately, I also have equal ability to harm an environment; to make folks uncomfortable, sad, and angry by my disposition.

Have you ever woken up to Monday Blues, so strong, you were of no use to anyone and vice versa? Sometimes I just do not want to be bothered. But how does that affect other people? Suppose your smile is like sunshine for the little girl in the grocery store. What if your laugh brightens the humdrum morning routine of your family? What if your friends look fwd to that phone call or social media message to spruce up their day?

I work in an environment where most people do not return my "good morning" or "hello" greeting. The sound of silence is heard walking from the parking garage, getting on the elevator, grabbing a cup of tea, walking to the restroom, kitchen/lunchroom, etc. There are people who literally work in an adjacent office or have asked me for assistance on an issue, who look me "square in the face" and do not return pleasantries. I began to see it happening to others and I winced at the defeated body posture that followed.

The other day I noticed I had a tight-lipped facial expression and made zero eye-contact with people. It was almost as if I was in "female subway commuter mode." Had I become as guilty as those accused guilty parties? Maybe organizational culture had gotten to them too. I became determined that I would not mimic the wrongdoings any longer. I decided to push myself. I will continue to greet people, strangers and co-workers alike heartily. I will not be sucked into that unhappy abyss.

It costs us nothing to brighten the day of others. Let's "pay it forward". Be what you were created to be or succumb to the system. The choice is yours, my friend. Personally, I am taking the High Road.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Shut Down Before the Breakdown

Although, I may not regret my actions, there are some issues/events I would love to have handled differently. I've learned that I cannot and will not please everyone.

In the past, I wanted to solve everyone's problem; be the bridge between every dispute, caress every ailment, kiss every forehead. The result was fatigue, frustration, and sometimes illness. Burning your candle at both ends leads to an unfulfilled "no man's land". I cringe from calling it a "the savior complex" because it gave more stress than joy. But it was superhuman and irrational thinking nonetheless.

We as human beings have enough work to do trying to get our lives in order. If you are a parent, caregiver, spouse you know the importance of a timeout. You can get your wits together or think of something worse to do, but the pause, is necessary. The best business men know the meaning of R and R, we should learn it too. This does not mean I am encouraging a week of debauchery that you can chalk up to "burnout".

When I begin to respond to daily stimuli like it's a migraine, I know I've had enough. I become snippy, intolerant, and too serious to appreciate or comprehend jokes. I often turn my office light off and allow the outside light from my window to illuminate the room. People may joke, but they realize when I don't take the bait, it is time to back away from the vehicle...beep...beep...beep.

Sometimes it's a walk in NYC, a prayer and meditation or a "mental sanity" day off. Maybe a day-cation or curling up to a good book. I have mastered the art of shut down when necessary. For me that means Social Media Block out too. Once the clouds have dissipated and my glow is back I survey the scene. I decide what, if anything to say YES to and if the answer is NO, I make no qualms about being unavailable or unreachable.

Self preservation is crucial to helping others. Just like the flight attendant who tells you to put your mask on first, if you cannot breathe, you are no good to anyone else.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's Not That I'm Better Than You...But

I consider myself to be a pretty decent person. I love community service and seldom look down on people. I am Politically Correct to a fault some would argue. Ask anyone who knows me and they will say that I care for and love friends as if they were blood relatives. I treat high-level executives and cleaning service people with the same level of respect.

However, I realized just the other day that I needed a major overhaul. I will tell you why. So here goes...I judge people. It is not in the sense that you are accustomed to recognizing. However, it is often an unmoving opinion on seemingly infinitesimal issues. It is in the slightest and most acceptable of ways. I generalize and stereotype people. Yes, that is correct. I am not perfect. How about you?

For example, if you see an attractive young woman with a man decades older than her, do assume it is a "money for pleasure" arrangement. Whatever happened to two souls connecting on a level that is only for them to understand and enjoy? How about the tween toting a $800 wristlet handbag? I am guilty of automatically thinking she is the pampered child of parents who have taught her nothing of humanity and less about morality and character. Could it be possible that her father is one of the most generous philanthropists in the world?...maybe, maybe not. The reality is not as important as the gross assumptions.

Newsflash: The single mother on public assistance and the trailer-dwelling house-wife do not need our disdain, pity or a hand-out. The visually impaired neighbor does not want us to do everything for them. Instead he or she needs the opportunity to begin on an equal playing field. Perhaps a chance to see beyond circumstances and believe in the possibilities is all that is required.

I came to a simple understanding; I cannot afford even the faintest bit of judgement. I am a person who has been judged by my skin color, height, hairstyle, gender, wealth, etc... Now it is up to you to decide to forgo some of the loaded jokes and harmful persuasions of your upbringing. When you meet someone new, think of he or she as a human being first. Acknowledge that you have more similarities than differences. Culture, family, hobbies,etc. are what make people who they are. Although many people may choose to hide their humanity, especially in the work place, take a hard look at yourself.

Connecting with others requires a bit of blind trust and faith. Treat people with kindness on a case by case basis. This will help you as much as the person you are meeting. Let their words, your instincts or discernment and especially their actions tell you whether less or more respect is required. Allow each man and woman to begin with a clean slate. Then, label the person a masterpiece or tragedy if you must, but base it on your own experience with the person. It is the least you can do and exactly what you would want to receive.