1halffull's Blog


Who controls your life?
June 29, 2010, 10:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Who controls your life?

I’ve recently been told that I allow my kids to control my life.   It was something said derrogatorily.

If you have kids, even adult kids, how does that not happen?  Do you just turn your back on them?  Pretend they don’t exist?  How do you shut the door on that connection?  I’m not sure I know. 

Someone has said that, as a mother, you are only as happy as your saddest child.  I get that.

Is it just your kids who control your life?  What about your spouse, your parents, maybe even your job?   Seems like all of those entities might have some kind of claim on you.   At what point is that claim interruptive to who you are and what you’re meant to do?

Here’s my experience.

My dad was in the Air Force.  He liked it so much that he’d have been totally happy to stay in for 25 years then retire, have a pension, and go on to do something else – even if that was fishing.  It would have meant our family would have moved around, seen who knows what, lived who knows where.  If I’d lived that way, who knows, I might have hated it.  But knowing me now, I don’t think so.

What stopped him? 

He met a beautiful young woman.  He married her, for better or worse. 

She didn’t want to live that lifestyle.  Her dream was to live in a big house and have a stable life.  So he left the Air Force, went to dental school to learn how to make teeth.  When school was done, he moved his little family back to Ohio from Brooklyn, NY.  He went to work for a local dentist, but that didn’t make him enough of a living to buy the house she wanted.  So he quit the job he’d trained for, something he wanted to do, and became a milk man for the local dairy.  That meant he got up at 4:30 every morning, rain, shine, 90 degrees or -10 degrees and didn’t get home till 5 p.m. or after.

She got her house.  He got her mother who never really liked him.  Then their lives took twists and turns neither could have anticipated when they started out together.  She died at 38, in a freak accident, leaving him with a 16 and a 6 year old.   And her mother, who liked him no better than the first day they met.

Then came Marian, an unassuming woman who, in a tangible way, gave him his life back.  She was on his side, did what he wanted to do.  The ride was less wild but more stable, and I think, more happy.  The blended family was not all peaches and cream, but they weathered it, helping the children to adjust, standing by them in whatever decisions they made – even if it was to run away from home (no, that wasn’t me – sometimes, though, I think it should have been).

They made plans for what life would be like when he retired.  It was to be a good life filled with travel, fishing, visiting grandkids.  It never happened because a year before the idyllic life would start, he died, killed by his own dairy truck while on his route.

Through all of that life was a message.  You do what you have to do for the sake of your family, your spouse, your kids.  Even when that decision sacrifices everything you had in mind for yourself, you set that aside.

As a mom, there are those who would say that I didn’t measure up.  I’d say no one knows that more than me – Monday morning quarterbacking is always perfect, you know? 

That being said, there is still the fact that I do care about my kids, even as adults.  What happens to them affects me.  Like my dad before me, I’ve changed my plans to make sure times in their lives were celebrated or that they were fully taken care of in time of need.  That care and concern extends  across the miles no matter how close or far away they are.  The emotions run high, the mind goes on overdrive, the body is on ‘high alert’.  There is no diversion that can change that for me.

It’s even more difficult when you’ve been through the same scenario before and you know the typical path the event takes.  I don’t know how to just turn that off.

So am I controlled by my kids as accused?  To the degree that you read here, Yes.  Will that ever end for me?  Probably not until my heart stops beating.



My Real Life: Bring It Back
June 26, 2010, 12:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

How is it our lives can get so out of our own control?

Since my boss (and friend) was let go from her job, I have felt like a hostage in limbo with no life of my own.  Suddenly the only life I have is the one that is concerned with how everything will get done at work; who’s breathing down my neck; how I miss having the buffer, my boss, who dealt with all things administrative while I happily bobbed along doing all the rest of what needed doing.  That was my happy place.

See, for me, work is not my life.  Everything outside of work is my life.  Work is the place I go to enable my lifestyle, pay my bills.  Don’t get me wrong, until the point that I lost my boss, I really liked my job and was happy there.  I recognize my job as a part of who I am, but it’s definitely never been all of who I am.  So, finding myself in a position that suddenly finds work trying to be my life is not very comfortable for me.

The worst part, I think, was the sense that even though there was still a plaque next to my door telling people who was inside, what my position was, the fact of the matter was that I had become pretty much no one, invisible to some degree, something I’m fairly familiar with.  I’m so invisible that even the automatic doors at Home Depot don’t ‘see’ me and don’t open when I approach!

But this is another form of invisibility.  Suddenly you find that the information trail doesn’t lead to your door anymore.  While you find yourself basically left to steer your bus, you’re not included in the information highway because you’re not important enough.  You take on the full responsibility silently, keeping things moving forward, but almost like you’re in another dimension, as though, you, too, have been moved on.  The only time you get attention is if you make someone mad because you tried to get information without asking their permission to ask for it.  It’s just a really bizarre place to be.  I haven’t liked it.

The one thing that has kept me going is the idea of vacation.  It’s out there like a beacon, drawing me to it with a promise of rest, relaxation and fun with family and friends along the way.  It’s the point at which I really hope to reconnect with those things and people that are what I consider my real life.  A respite from the storm; the place where ‘everybody knows your name’ and you matter. 

Having been a girl of day dreams, always hoping to be rescued, I think that in the back of my mind, I’m hoping that magically, when I return, I will have been rescued.  Maybe what I’m hoping for is just a regrounding and a shift back to my real priorities, my real life.  With any luck, maybe life will find me on a new bus, actually headed someplace that fits in with who I really am.  I hope so, anyway.



Political Correctness? Not for Me.
June 24, 2010, 3:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Life has become particularly annoying.  Specifically my work life.

The job I have was enjoyable.  I liked all the people I worked with.  I liked how I got to put people together with tasks that provided help to other people. 

I never minded doing stuff others weren’t crazy about doing – like cleaning out the coffee pots at the end of the day and preparing them for the next morning.  Or cleaning up the work room so it was neat and ready for the next day’s volunteers.  Or going to get the mail. Or making the rounds, visiting the volunteers, learning who they are and what makes them want to come and volunteer.  I didn’t mind filling in at the information desk or interviewing new candidates or creating schedules that gave them a varied experience.  I didn’t even mind bringing in my own broom so I could clean up a work room no housekeeper would touch!

It was a job that made me happy to serve and enable others to also serve openly, with glad hearts.

Then they took away my boss.  Just when another worker went on maternity leave and the co-worker’s schedule became a puzzle without a major piece.  Just before a vital volunteer gave me notice of a sabatical from a spot that was already one person short.  Just before the start of one of our busiest seasons – student season which is what we have every summer.  It’s the time when a large influx of students stretch us to find suitable spots for them to come in and learn about various areas of service.  I try to give them a wide range of experiences.  That requires a juggling act in scheduling and keeping everyone on track and in the past, help from my boss. 

But after my boss was taken away, everything multiplied exponentially as I took on all the responsibility of our department.  That was hard enough.

Then it got more difficult. 

Being a take charge person, that’s what I tried to do.  But, in the mileau in which I find myself, that’s not easy to do.  Too many egos, too many control issues, too little understanding.

One email too many and I suddenly find myself given a new ‘boss’ – someone who I’ll be ‘collaborating’ with. 

The new ‘boss’ dashes in, throws herself in my visitor’s chair and proclaims “you’ll have to give me alot of help because I don’t know anything about what you do’!  Now, there are words that instill ….. let’s call it a sense of complete dread and revulsion. 

Why?  Because now, not only am I trying to manage the work of two people, this person has just added to my personal burden the job of having to train her how to do everything I know so that she can be my boss. 

My philosophy is this:  If you’ve been named ‘the boss’ you kind of owe it to your new employees to bring a sense of leadership to the table.  In other words, fake it till you make it and find a better way to learn what your new department does other than telling your new employee that you don’t know anything about what she does.

I would say that I’m astonished to find myself working for someone whose boss maybe I should be.  But I’m not. 

Why?

It’s all because of political correctness.  I hate those two words.  I refuse to play the politically correct game.  It doesn’t work for me.  It never has.

Why?

Because I don’t believe in blowing smoke up people’s butts just so I can get ahead.  I don’t believe in pretending that someone is doing a wonderful job when it’s completely obvious that they don’t have a clue.  I don’t believe someone should be given a job just to save their hydes from being let go.  Nor do I think someone should get moved up the ladder even when they don’t deserve it.  That’s called the Peter Principle.  Look it up. 

I also don’t believe in tiptoeing around everyone so people’s big, fat, egos can be hoisted up the flag pole.  I believe in the direct approach.  If you’re the person who can do what I need done, I believe in asking you, not asking four other people for permission for them to ask you.  Why waste everybody’s time?  Or is it that some people just can’t possibly make a decision for themselves or commit to give a simple answer without 17 meetings to decide whether the question should even be answered?

As far as I’m concerned, politically correct is another term for the devil’s workshop.  It’s the place where leadership and management dumb down to their lowest common denominator.  It’s the place where businesses slide into bankruptcy and disrepair as the predators push open the doors and suck the life blood out of a once vital entity. 

When politically correct walked in the door, good business sense seems to have walked out.  Too bad it didn’t take some people with it.