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fear

Lists in the face

I remember being surprised at being invited to that executive’s retirement party given we’d hardly interacted.  I was around 27 and, looking back, a bit naive.

The night of the party, one of the (ancient) executive’s pals, in his toast to the retiree, joked about inviting “pretty girls like __(me)__ so we all have something nice to look at.” Their wives looked horrified and sad, most men chuckled, and I can still feel the rage at being reduced to “something.”

I know and have loved many wonderful men – decent, kind and gentle men.  I’m fortunate I can easily rattle off a long list including Grandfathers,  Great Uncles, Dad and his brothers, my husband and our sons. But I also have known – and had to work with – creeps.  And, in my experience, the creeps spoil the well for the good men.

Now, as a Grandmother, my Spidey senses are on FIRE whenever I’m out with our grandkids – both grandSON and grandDAUGHTER — I watch them like a hawk even though they aren’t “babies” any more.    I’m hyper-aware of everyone around us; if one asks to go off to another aisle to “see just one thing” we all go; it’s not up for discussion.

I’ve talked with the grands about good people and bad people, about trusting their instincts, and if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe to tell any of us, and that they will never be in trouble for doing so.  I worry about Social Media and creepy perverts who lurk in shadows everywhere.  But, as many of us know, creepy perverts were in our churches, schools, and communities long before Facebook or SnapChat ever existed.

I made a quick list of how experiences with creepy men has impacted how I live; the list wrote itself in minutes.

  • I stay alert and pay attention to surroundings; if someone feels “off” I get away from them.
  • I never walk, shop for groceries or stop for gas in the dark.
  • I prefer to exercise in the house vs. in the neighborhood.
  • I wear a cross body purse, always and my cell phone remains charged and accessible, even at home.
  • I check the back seat of any vehicle before getting in, anywhere and in every light.
  • I rarely venture away from the hotel when traveling for business ~ Company (male) colleagues like to walk to restaurants for group events (because they never have to think about lists like this!). I prefer to take a taxi but will walk in a larger (mixed) group.
  • I never sleep on flights.
  • All windows and doors are locked  ~ if I find myself alone at the office (very off-putting) I take the cell phone with me to the copier or the restroom.
  • On business trips /outings I stick to water or (sometimes) order a cocktail I don’t like and sip it; whatever I have goes with me to the ladies’ room.
  • It’s Hubby’s deep voice on the answering machine.
  • I’m not thin anymore;  extra weight has lessened the burden of unwanted attention.
  • I never use parking garages,  valet where possible and expense it, and offer no explanations or apologies.
  • I don’t get on elevators with men, not even one.
  • I limit fluids during road trips which limits stops, and never use highway rest areas; Fast food restaurants only.
  • At company functions I employ the Irish Good-bye – excuse myself and don’t come back.

Your turn:

  • Can you relate to this post?
  • How have your experiences impacted the way you navigate your day-to-day life?
    • Any tips or thoughts to add?

 

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.” — Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

 

 

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Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, fear, Grief, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, News, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Travel, Useful Information, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Random 5 Sunday ~ Hoarders, Deals and Stupid Ideas

It’s Sunday morning, the sun’s shining and we might * gasp * actually be seeing Spring today. I know, I know, we’re holding our breath because we woke up to snow Thursday.

To that end, it’s time again for 5 random thoughts, this time on a Sunday.

Ready?  Here we go:

1 ) Hoarders.  If I’m ever featured on an episode of Hoarders I’m blaming the books.   I’m not a shopper, hate the mall, and despise trying on clothes.  But click here to add one more book to my Amazon cart?  Oh, just one more nets me free shipping?  I’m in!   Many books have been devoured this past winter but this one is, hands down, my favorite:

2 ) Weekends.  A good part of the weekend is spent doing whatever I want to.  In the overly-scheduled world that is my work week, my soul craves an opportunity to goof off, waste time and accomplish absolutely nothing at all.  And I do.

“A mind preoccupied with planning plays homage to the idol of control.” – Sarah Young

3)  Stupid Ideas.  In my job I try to remain open to new ideas and different approaches.  But some ideas are simply stupid.  And stupid ideas are made stupider when brought up by those who should know better.  Except they don’t.  And, the older I get, the harder it is for me to stifle the snort a stupid idea commands. I’m working on it but let me just say, “Thank you, God, for the mute button!”  Snort Snort!

4 ) Deals  ~ about a month ago I was down with the flu – something positive that came out of that delirium was, in the midst of sleeping through watching morning T.V. shows, I learned of a cool site called MorningSave. Kind of like a buying group it’s a collection of all the “deals” featured on morning shows like “The Wendy Show,” the “Steve Harvey Show,” etc.   There are plenty of “deals & steals” on there, much of it is electronics (Bluetooth speakers, fitness gadgets, home security, portable phone chargers, etc),  fashion (handbags, jewelry), and personal items (watches, hair gadgets, skin care, teeth whiteners, etc) but here’s the skinny ~ most items are more than 65% off.    🙂

No chickens were harmed in this post

5 ) Saying Yes. I’ve written about the power of saying Yes.   And about how “no” is a sentence.   I’ve said “no” a lot over the past years.  Doing so has made room for Yes’s but I haven’t always said it.   I’ve enjoyed some time and some space without anyone in it.   Lately, I’ve started saying yes again — to things that challenge me – speaking opportunities, serving on advisory panels, putting myself out there to alleviate the boredom that comes with a little too much routine.  This has been soul-invigorating.  I’m not sky-diving or cliff jumping anytime soon, but pushing myself to say “yes” to opportunities that freak me out a little has brought something rewarding:  personal growth.

How about you? If you were featured on “Hoarders” what would it be for?  How do you like to waste time?  Heard any stupid ideas lately?   Got any new “finds” to share?  And lastly, what have you said “yes” to lately?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Gratitude, Growth, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Seasons, Share, Technology, Thoughts, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Travel, change and solace

Readying for another road trip later today, I thought about how much things have changed over the years:

  • Remember paper maps?  Maps that unfolded with landmarks and highway intersections?  You’d need a companion to help navigate. Now – I rely on an iPhone or car navigation system.  I prefer the phone because one can listen for upcoming turns and still enjoy the radio.  My car system talks over the radio and I end up missing sing-along opportunities, political updates, and advice from Dr. Laura. 🙂

  • Packing for an overnight requires just as much effort as packing for four.  Vitamins, hair stuff, makeup, jewelry, pajamas/robe, in-room clothes, work clothes, travel clothes, computer, portfolio, shoes, phone charger and more.    And coffee, don’t forget the coffee.

  • I don’t sleep well in hotels.  Part of my packing routine involves a good book and essential oils; most times, I average 4 hours of flipping & flopping vs. the 7 solid Zs at home.

  • As much work as it is, I still enjoy going.  Meeting new people and getting out of my comfort zone.   Example, tomorrow I’m one of several giving a presentation to company peers and executives.  Now I make presentations on a regular basis but usually before total strangers.  Peers are far more daunting.  So I do what I always have:  prepare, know my stuff, and nail it!  (And a little self pep-talk never hurts.)

  • And as much as I love the going, the coming home is even better.  🙂

“Home is where you go to find solace from the ever changing chaos, to find love within the confines of a heartless world, and to be reminded that no matter how far you wander, there will always be something waiting when you return.”  – Kendal Rob

 

What do you enjoy about the going?   What do you never travel without?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, fear, Fun, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Personal, Thoughts, Travel, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The New Normal

Somehow me – and some others – are still here.  We’ve been impacted but not “touched” by “re-organizations,” “alignments” and “employee optimizations.”   It gets challenging to do your work well when your wide range of contacts becomes more narrow.

Opening the office yesterday, balancing my lunch, coffee and backpack while punching in the alarm code,  I took a moment to stand in the quiet and take this in. We’ve dropped from 28 to 7 in a matter of weeks.   Department consolidations, moves, staffing changes. Some left, others moved, some took different positions within the company.

I’ve been traveling during most of these changes so I’m a bit late to the (non) party.   It’s like I woke up from a dream and the horizon shifted.

The new normal is office doors open  – everyone listens for the doorbell  – not just the cube-dwellers.  The cubes are empty.

The new normal is driving 7 miles to spend the whole day by myself.   Yes I can work at home and I sometimes do but all of my files and materials are there.  And I like having an office to go to – I can access everything easily – make copies, send a fax and conference someone in if need be.

The new normal is closing my office door for conference calls only to emerge and find everyone gone.

The new normal is – as expected – me and the other female employee – ensuring the coffee pot gets turned off, lights are shut down, and that we don’t run out of supplies.

The new normal is weird.   I don’t care for the new normal.

 

I’ve been through many re-organizations ~ too many to count.  What’s your experience been and how did you cope?

 

 

Categories: Faith, fear, Growth, Life, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Positive obsessions

for more, click on A test in self-worth

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, fear, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Joy, Life, Mom, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Strong Women, Grey Ties & Valentine’s Day

As a girl, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a school party, card boxes, ice skating and moms visiting our classrooms.

google.images.com

google.images.com

As a teenager, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a boyfriend if I had one and avoided if I didn’t.

google images

google images

As a young married woman, Valentine’s Day meant cards and flowers – for a while, anyways.  As our relationship evolved, romantic gestures were replaced by thoughtful ones.  Things you can’t buy in the store: taking out the trash; filling my car up with gas on a snowy day.  Running his vehicle through the car wash then detailing the inside myself. Folding the laundry left in the dryer; bringing in the groceries.   It’s the little things  ~ but they’re helpful and kind and nice.  And there’s a flow and a comfort to it that I love.

In my 50’s I don’t wait for someone else to make me happy ~ I make myself happy.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1You see I learned it from her:  My mother was a strong woman and my role model  – 100lbs of dynamite ~ she calved calves, trained horses, wrangled 5 kids, a husband, a 1/2 acre garden, 2 dogs and 14 cats.  She rode in trail rides, taught 4-H and Sunday School, balanced the books and Chaired the Board.  She always got out to vote, once taking the tractor to the highway to catch a ride to the polls. No muddy roads were going to stop her!  Not much ever did!

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 - mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 – mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Like she did, I go to bed when I’m tired,  take a nap if I need one and I stay up late when I choose to.  I make room for the things I love – books – and never apologize for the space they occupy.  I have learned how to say “no thanks” to stuff I don’t want (or want to do) and “YES please!” to the ones I do.

Years ago Mom bought my sister & I that novel about the guy with the grey ties  ~ She made it clear she had no intentions of reading it and quipped “you can handle it” with a snort.   The two of us traumatized our grown kids by leaving it out on end tables.  The comments of horror from my nieces and the looks our boys shot my way were so worth it.  That was her point, to stir the pot and to remind us we always have a choice.

I chuckle remembering how Mom and I joked that if a good looking, rich man came near us with a grey tie, he’d find himself in some deep do-do.

God, I miss her.

So this Valentine’s Day I wish you this:

  • I wish you the courage to make the leap you’ve been pondering,
  • I wish you dreams in technicolor,
  • I wish you the conviction to change what’s not working, to stop worrying about what others think and to do the things that make your soul sing.
  • Time’s a-wasting and, per the wisest woman I’ve ever known, the only hero we have is ourselves.

 

strong-women

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Fun, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Love, Mom, Personal, Romance, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Random 5 – Good-bye 2016

I don’t know about you but I’m OK with saying good-bye to this year.  It’s not been all bad, but it’s been far too rushed-stressed-scheduled-manic-busy for me.   I don’t foresee that the work pace will slow but do I feel a shift in how I’m managing it:  I’m speaking up more and saying “no thanks” where I can. I no longer feel responsible for everyone and everything.  (No one asked me to do that, by the way, but that’s just how I rolled).  The surprising part? No push back.  Huh – should have done this long ago!

Having (most of) this week off has allowed time for reflection.  To think about what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, what I want and where I’m going  – here are my Random 5 thoughts on the cusp of a new year:

1 Traditions can change and you can, too.  Everything about this Christmas was different – everything.  What day we all got together.  What we ate, how we managed gifts, who was here and how we spent our time. I loved it!  Fewer decorations went up and came down sooner.  We stayed in more. We rested – we cocooned.  It was wonderful, magical, soul-restoring.

between-christmas-and-new-years

2 Family – this was our first Christmas without Mom and we all felt the pinch.  My sister called late one night, her voice cracking, and as we connected our tears fell. She was just “having a moment” she said.  “I get it,” I said.  We told our stories and cried and laughed and gave thanks for a Mother so joyfully recalled.

motherhood

3 Gifts – the best gifts are those that cost little but take time and effort and come straight from the heart: this year I made our boys a family recipe book.  It’s not perfect and it wasn’t professional but the joy I felt as they sincerely reveled in it was my gift.  I teased that I chose a red binder for a reason – likening it to the President getting the Nuclear codes – and that they’d best guard it closely.  They assured me they would.  😀

food ina garten

4 Epiphanies abound, case in point:  When we go out socially, I yearn for interesting and fun conversations.  When those don’t happen I withdraw or get frustrated.  Crap – I’m a conversation snob!!  Hubbs and I can have hours-long meandering conversations and I shouldn’t assume they’re available everywhere.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1

Great conversations make me happy!

5 Here comes the New Year.  We’re heading out tonight for Japanese Hibachi dinner with a host of friends.  I’ll find something sparkly to wear and hope for good conversations.  I’ll take a breath and look around and give thanks for the chance to do it all over again next year.  ~ Happy New Year all!

photo from flickr

photo from flickr

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, fear, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

On first days

Today is a big day.  Big day!

I had a full schedule planned and was supposed to be at an important breakfast meeting along the Lake shore. Up with the birds, driving in the dark, greeting importants and making everyone feel welcome.

But in the middle of all that, I made an offer of employment to someone I’m very excited about “on-boarding” (corporate words for hiring/acclimating an employee).

And to complicate things, my team and I are off to a conference next week. She needs to come, too. So HR said “she needs to start sooner.” As in today. Friday.

Add another layer of complications, an important agency asked for a meeting mid-state.   She’s on the East side, I’m on the west, the agency office is in the middle.

Decision made.

A few other employees were scheduled to appear with me at the breakfast meeting so they’ve got it covered.

I will leave shortly, take the meeting and then boogie on over to where her office is. Coffee up!

Why?

I remember my first day: I had a cubicle, a pen and a note pad. No computer. No guidance. No agenda. No direction. No colleagues (in meetings).

I did what I do best: I made a list.

Eventually someone hauled in a computer, a few days later it was up and running. In the meantime I met my office mates, asked questions, learned about the company and started figuring things out.

My first day, week, month weren’t great but they were definitely memorable. And a learning experience x 10!

You only get one first day.

One.

And I want hers to be memorable … but for all the right reasons!

day-one

“In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” ― Tina Fey, Bossypants

 

Do you remember your first day at work? What was it like? Did you feel like someone prepared for you or were you “tossed into the mix” like I was?

 

Categories: Attitude, Determination, fear, Gratitude, Growth, Life, Personal, Thoughts, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Freedom, baby

15 years ago today, we experienced an inconceivable tragedy when terrorists attacked our nation simply because of who we are and what we stand for. We will never forget.

4 years ago, we experienced this evil once again when 4 Americans were killed in a terrorist attack while serving in Benghazi, Libya. We will never forget.

We remember the heroic law enforcement officers, fireman and medical units who rushed TOWARDS danger when everyone ran from it. And our men and women in uniform who fiercely protected our freedom then and now.

So to the cowards whose jealousy and warped ideologies motivate attacks on us – I remember what happened here post 9/11: I remember people coming together NOT apart, strangers rescuing strangers and neighbors helping neighbors, people donating blood,money and food, an outpouring of love & pride for our country and renewed appreciation for our service men and women. We united this great nation as ONE. I never saw so many American Flags flying so bright and so often.

We were one nation indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.

Sneaky terrorist creeps will never be able to take away what is intrinsic to our nature as citizens: our desire to live a full and FREE live. Honor. Faith. Hard work. Patriotism. And FREEDOM, BABY!

We remember the people we lost…and the heroes who rose.

Freedom LIVES.

Categories: Determination, Faith, fear, Grief, Life, News, Patriotic, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Margins, people and porcupines

I stunned a co-worker when I explained how I’d rid myself of the rat.  See, after he was pushed out of left the company, he tried to get back in.  He tried, more than once, to exert whatever authority he’d once had to weasel his way back. He tried but he failed.

Listening intently my friend asked, “Well how did you do it? What did you say?”

I simply shared that I had been honest and direct with no wiggle room for misinterpretation: I told the rat I didn’t want a relationship. With him. Then. Silence.

“You what?” my friend asked. “You heard that right. That’s what I said.”

Of course, being the narcissist that he is, the rat turned the table on me and became the victim. That’s what Narcissists do.  Whatever. ~Yawn~.

You see, with certain people you cannot beat around the bush. As hard as may be to do you can’t be subtle. You will fail.  You have to spell things out c-l-e-a-r-l-y so there’s no room for Wiley Coyotes to belly crawl back in.

Using the margins analogy, I referenced the wired ruler books we all used to carry in grade school. The center part, where the lines are, is where our work, family and obligations live. The margins represent our free time, our weekends, where dreams live.  When my margins shrink I get very discerning about who takes up space there.

I used this example recently when someone recounted all of the past hurts another had caused her, over and over again. I heard the anguish in her voice, the frustration, the pain.  Now I don’t know about you but when I rehash past traumas I rarely feel better; often, I feel worse.   So I countered with how stepping away from toxic people has helped me heal. It didn’t change them, no, they’re as ornery as ever.  But being absent from their negativity has changed me.  It was in sharing my growth that I thought to give her this advice:

don't pet the porcupine

Now this little guy, Teddy Bear, is so cute eating (and commenting on) his treat. But I know better than to pet him.

You?

 

 

Whose personality comes to mind as you read this?  How are your margins looking these days?   What would you like to make room for?

*Thanks to DM for the margins reference. Love it!

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Determination, Faith, fear, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Storytellers & Liars

“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.”
Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam

I have an intolerance for Liars, especially having worked with/for one for years (otherwise known as The Rat).

So I like to think I have a pretty good nose for such people.  But, sometimes, I think I have blinders on, too.

You see, there’s a quite a lot of my Mom in me, the gal who wants to take people at their word, believe that most harbor good intentions, and think things will work out as they should.

So it took me a little by surprise when someone I’ve been interacting with turned out to be a Rat.

A big juicy one.

A sneaky, smarmy twitchy one.

A dirty, dank deceitful one.

I don’t interact with this person every day or even every month, but events find  us at the same meetings from time to time.

It happened just the other day, I’d arrived to a meeting, grabbed my notepad and chatted with others near me.

Not long after, I caught him in a lie.  Not just a “white lie,” but a big, twisty, “If I lie enough times it will eventually be true” kind of lie.

And I knew it. And he knew I knew it.

And the stance he took could only be interpreted as this, “What are you going to do about it?”

if you tell the truth you dont have to remember anything copy

Prickles ran up my back when I realized he thought I’d just sit there, with a room of witnesses, and “pretend” that I didn’t know what I knew.

So here’s what I did:  I asked him a question.  A pointed and strategic question.  The kind of question that you only can answer if you’re not a liar.  He blustered. He fumbled. He turned red. He turned on me.  He changed the subject.  All the while I looked at him and eventually, I smiled.  And he was caught.   I wonder if he’d been so used to lying that he thought no one would ever call him on his b.s.?  At the break a couple people commented on the exchange, and said they were surprised he was so “prickly” about my simple question (there’s that word again) and that I’d stayed calm as he came unhinged.

My response?  “I’m the youngest of 5 kids, 2 of which were brothers, plus a host of cousins.  You can’t know how many places I’ve been locked into. I can hold my own, don’t worry about me.”

I didn’t slander him, I didn’t smear him, but he knows that I know and I think sometimes that is enough.

He’s not likely to change his ways and I don’t care if he does.

But he knows that I know.

  * * *

How about you?   Do you know people who lie so much they might-as-well be a rug?  Do tell!

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, fear, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Men, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The best part

Yesterday morning, as I pulled out of the driveway, I smiled and thought, “this is the best part.”  Prepping for a meeting across the state at a place I’d never been with people I didn’t know, rehearsing talking points out loud with the morning news, I felt butterflies in my stomach. Not nerves. Excitement.

I said out loud, “Thank you, Lord. This is just the best part!”

Then, walking into that meeting and opening a dialogue, connecting-the-dots and feeling their excitement, I smiled and thought, “man, this is just the best part.”   Enjoying lunch with a new-to-me colleague, I laughed at something said and thought again, “wow, this is so the best part.”

A young woman approached me recently seeking career advice ~ she’d witnessed my passion and wanted some of it.  My words were these – “Volunteer for every project, push yourself, make connections & never sell yourself short. If you’re not selling it, no one’s buying it.”

The truth is it matters less what you know than how you conduct yourself; be the one who shows up early, delivers on time and maintains a good attitude ~ people will want you on their team.

If you’re not selling it, no one’s buying it.  

And after we’d had that conversation I thought to myself, “boy, if that isn’t just the best part!”

What’s been the best part for you lately?

A-Masterpiece-and-a-Work-in-Progress

related posts:

Snapping strings

Being thankful for doors that closed

The Fear of the Fear

https://emjayandthem.com/2013/08/14/the-thing-about-alices/

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Growth, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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