I Am Enough

I Am Enough

It’s been an interesting January. Twelve weeks post Hurricane Irma and we finally had office space restored. Now have not only carpet and paint, but a cubby of my own.

But what is interesting is how creating a cubicle with six panels has changed a male superior’s perception of me, even as my title and responsibilities have stayed the same

Many, were extremely supportive and congratulatory. My work load and responsibilities have increased ten fold in the past five plus years. Taking me off “the floor” – just behind the panels, allows our receptionist to handle not just the phone calls, but deliveries, walk- ins and the daily minor disruptions.

Because I’m in a cubicle occupying the same room, I can still hear everything going on, and can insert myself if there’s a problem the receptionist can’t solve without me. So far we’ve had no issues.

The problem seems to be with someone higher up the chain, a male superior. There was a conversation about isolating myself, that I’m no longer accessible and can be perceived now as aloof.

I still act exactly the same. Still handle the same tasks and delegate to the receptionist as before, but I’m now inaccessible. Have I mentioned these are cubicle panels and I have no door to close?

I went home baffled, stung and spent the evening beating myself up. And then I got angry. Why do I feel shame that I did something wrong because I asked for my own office, which every other staff member enjoys, by the way. Why am I told that isolates me when I am still in the middle of the action?

I took the time to sit quietly and meditate.  The message, I am enough kept popping up every single time I felt a negative feeling directed towards myself. I stopped feeling shamed because I spoke up for myself and asked for an office two years ago. I pushed away every feeling of insecurity placed on me by someone more insecure than I.

This morning a different mantra appeared as I sat quietly: I hold the power. The power to keep anyone from crushing my spirit or changing who I am.

©annettealaine2018

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I thought when I was young and at the beginning of my career, that the rookie mistakes and the frustrations projected on me would help me grow a thick skin.

I’m slowly learning, after ten plus years in my new field, that thick skin isn’t enough. There is nothing more strident than the self-righteous conviction of someone who sits in the sanctuary and praises the Lord every Sunday.

There’s an irony to my name, because I act as “a net,” capturing every bit of negative grousing that folks want to get off their chests.

“I don’t want to complain, but…” is often the opening line. The leaders are often exempt because, that’s like complaining that Jesus multiplied those loaves and fishes, but did it have to be pumpernickel bread?

People hate change is the basis for 2000 years of stagnation in the christian church. Serve bagels instead of donuts one Sunday and all hell breaks loose. And somehow, the person who takes the heat is the front office- which by luck, or mischance happens to be me.

Let’s be honest- the customer service field is the worst. People have a consumer mindset these days, and churches are feeling the pressure to create a great product or “guest experience.” Somehow church has become another theme park or restaurant- we compete with each other for that shrinking audience of worshippers. The fable of the man, the boy and the donkey comes to mind. In the quest to please all, we please no one.

And if they don’t like it, I’ll be the first to know.

©2018

So many years I started the day off with resolutions:

I will lose weight. I will exercise more. I will make better grades, and so on…

I read something the other day that pointed out that too often resolutions reinforce the negative aspects of our lives. Our failures and shortcomings.

As I muddle through middle age, I tend to agree with that assessment. Which is why a few years ago I stopped making resolutions and started setting goals. If you don’t meet the goal, chances are you can still measure progress.

There’s also the idea of developing good habits- I will exercise changed to:

    I will strive for 10,000 steps a day. I will set a goal of walking five days a week. 

So the measurable goals:

Last year I set a goal to download all of my poems, sort them by theme and print them for myself. I started, but I didn’t finish. Did I achieve the goal? No, but I did make significant progress.

I set a reading goal last year. Sixty books was challenging, and I made it just under the buzzer, so that’s a goal to strive for again this year.

Some goals are hard to measure- being kinder, or being more positive. I have only my inner compass to gauge whether I am successful or not.

The immeasurable goals:

Here’s one that can only be measured internally- being true to myself, to mentally stop worrying so much about pleasing others or keeping the peace. In business we must cooperate and work as a team, but I speak up more for what I think is equitable in the workplace. I need to apply this to the personal sphere as well.

Finally, the writing goals.

I did not write enough in 2017. I can point to many reasons why I did not write.  Looking back at those setbacks did not shame me, but helped me remove the obstacles to writing more this year.  I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can do a better job of carving out regular time to sit with pen and paper and get some words down.

As I get older I realize January resolutions, goals, good habits or new dreams aren’t so much about changing myself- it’s about challenging me to keep growing and evolving.

What dreams, goals, or good habits do you hope to achieve in 2018?

©annettealaine2018

Lessons Learned in 2017

Here’s some lessons learned in 2017:

Purging is good for the soul

Letting go is good for the heart

Living in the city has been good for my body (more opportunities to walk)

Forgiveness is like lifting thirty pounds off of your shoulders

Sushi and I will never get along

Speaking up is brave

Courage inspires others

Women have power- real power

Becoming more informed is crucial in today’s world

Current affairs seem dire, but people are getting woke- and that’s going to effect change

Outdoor cats can adapt to apartment living

Family is precious

The kids ARE alright

Reading is fundamental to my overall contentment

LOVE is still the answer

 

©annettealaine2017

Short of the Goal

I’ve fallen short of my goal this year. I wanted to write more and figured once we moved and college girl returned to school, I would sit on my porch with a laptop and just let the words flow like the river below me.

Ten months later, I have decreased to the point that some of my old writing pals thought I gave it up.

I could blame it on the longer commute to and from work. I could mention all the creative juices I expend on a normal day for my job. I could point out that my exercise routine has increased dramatically, and as a result I have less time for writing, but the bottom line is I haven’t felt the spark for many months.

I read more than I write these days. I don’t know why the muse has abandoned me, but for now it’s on an extended hiatus.

I read more news articles, and then devour fiction to escape the bleakness of our world right now.  Writing fiction would be a lovely antecdote to the daily newsfeed, but I cannot make up any plot stranger, or create characters weirder than the people running our government.

I write in my head quite a bit as I walk early in the morning. Not poems about the beauty I see, but angry posts as I respond to male letter writers in the local paper who still shame and blame women for “dressing inappropriately” at work.

Mostly though, I’m spending my time re-examining my own voice. Who am I, and why do I feel my work matters?

My goal this year was to get all of my poetry gathered, sorted and printed in some form. The task remains half finished.

I’m not angry or disappointed in what I have not accomplished this year- that’s not productive and never works as motivation.

Instead of lamenting what did not get done, I am going to let myself figure out if writing still fits into my life. And if so, where and when do I make time for it. Developing healthy habits this year was a goal that I’ve achieved physically. Now it’s time to check my creative habits and decide what to aim for in 2018.

©annettealaine2017

The Aftermath

What a difference a week makes.

The sun is shining and the breeze gently stirs the salted trees branches. Traffic moves at a brisk pace across our city’s drawbridge. Trains whistle as the cross the bridge trestle and the smell of Maxwell House coffee drifts across the river once more.

One week ago we woke up to 70 mph wind gusts and driving rain. We watched the river crest the walkway in front of our high rise, lapping against the lobby doors. We saw canals instead of streets, and we heard nothing but the scream of Irma’s wrath.

It’s been a week of worry and grim preparation. The days of uncertainty- should we leave, is there anywhere to run? We laid in supplies, we made sure our five kids were hunkered down in safe places, and we waited.

We played rummy, started a jigsaw puzzle, read, played the piano, and tried not to watch the Weather Channel 24/7.

I made soup, and meatloaf, and creamy mashed potatoes. We drank beer, and we went on walks while the skies only misted; amazed at the white caps on the river. We watched movies and calmed the cat.

I got up at 2:30 a.m. to watch the green glow of power transformers blowing across town. I watched lights blink and palm trees bend and water sluice down the stairwells of the parking garage outside our window. I put in my earplugs and tried to sleep.

After the storm anxiety levels only increased as we called and texted family and friends. Were they safe?

The Weather Channel moves on, the local reporters go around town recording the damage. You’re ready to get back to normal, You even miss going to work. But there’s more.

The part no one tells you about- the aftermath of a natural disaster. There are trees down, and no power for many. You’ve seen it on t.v. before. Poor souls, I will write a check. Then it hits closer to home. One kid with no power, one has a flooded street and can’t return to their apartment. And one, has knee high water in her college apartment.

So you help. Anyway you can. You save what can be salvaged. You wear gloves and you sanitize the stuff that can be saved. You toss the rest in the growing pile of insulation and dry wall and wet mattresses. You watch them square their shoulders and box up their few belongings. Your heart breaks.

You swallow your tears and take the next call. No power after five days, can we sleep in a/c tonight. You clean the sheets and hang up fresh towels. You just want to lay your head down and sleep for the next 48 hours.

But work calls- the office flooded. All your stuff is being moved out so they can dry it out. Now you begin to fall apart. You wonder if you reached the tipping point. You wish you could sit down and have a good cry. But, your boss is calling and there are tasks to complete, decisions to be made, plans to change.

This morning you pull up the news- another hurricane, Maria is bearing down and you have no more emotional energy to care.

©annettealaine2017

Nice Girls

I’m angry.  I’m upset. I’m heartbroken.

Another young woman was murdered in Florida. In my city.

In the parking lot of busy suburban shopping center, in broad daylight.

She was twenty-one; two classes ahead of my daughter.

Worked at a restaurant in this shopping center- beautiful, kind, loving, and an excellent worker.

She lived at home. She was close to her parents.

She was killed by a co-worker. A man who I gather had feelings for her.

*********************************************************************

Another young woman killed by a man who would not take no for an answer.

I read something this week about how Black parents give their kids “the talk.”

About living and surviving while being black in this country.

But what about the women who sit their daughters down and give “the talk?”

You know the script:

How to deal with the cat-calls, the crude invitations called out as you walk down the street.

How to  deal with sexual harassment on the job,  and at school.

Be careful when you are out- don’t accept a drink from a stranger.

Be firm, be clear, be direct- be careful with guys who stalk. Trust your gut.

Lock your doors, watch the street, don’t walk alone, make sure no one is following you home.

Be aware if the guy you are dating becomes to possessive- know the signs of

  • physical
  • emotional
  • sexual abuse

Stay in groups. Watch out for each other. Text me when you arrive and when you leave a place and check in with friends.

And the cycle of fear continues, because we can’t trust some men. It’s the twenty-first century and I’m giving my daughter the same talk that I got, my mother heard, and on back in history. Beware of men who can’t control their impulses. It’s the women’s job to keep them in check:

  • be sweet and kind, but not too easy
  • watch how you dress
  • watch what you say
  • don’t be a tease
  • don’t lead them on

I’m angry, frustrated and scared for my daughter. I’m sad that I had to acknowledge that being female in this world is difficult and being vigilant is a burden she will bear her entire life.

©annettealaine 2017