Respect. What the world needs now.

Yesterday I hosted an annual summer BBQ for my sorority’s local alumnae chapter.  It is only the second time, but it is a day of good food, laughter, conversations, and more laughter.  What amazes me is the respect and companionship we find when we get together.  A sorority does not make cookie cutter women.  But it does help make smart, confidant, respectful women.  Respect being the quality that just regular friendship does not reinforce.  And something sorely lacking in our culture today.  

What do I mean by respect?  It’s not admiration for anyone or anything.  You can be respectful without admiring or liking someone or an idea. There are numerous women in my sorority that I don’t necessarily like as a friend, but I respect them just the same.  We have a bond that connects us.  A greater good and that bond must start with respect. 

Respect is acknowledging someone or an idea. That he or she, or an idea, is as relevant as you or your thoughts or ideas.  Sure we all respect our friends.  Friends most of the time are people we share similar ideas and beliefs with.  But when you are in an organization like a sorority, not every woman is going to be your friend.  Yet she will be your sister and thus deserves your respect.  
Respect is understanding that no one holds all the answers.  My point of view is no more or less important than someone else’s point of view.  It is understanding that unless I have experienced everthing another has experienced, I cannot even begin to grasp their perceptions.  

Respect can be given without receiving it in return.  One can argue and try to convince or change the perception while still being respectful.  This is how sorority woman treat their sisters when they may not agree.  We argue, but we do it with respect.  We do not belittle or ignite sensationalism.

As I get older, I am becoming more respectful, yet also more opinionated.  Yes, one can be respectful while having a very strong opinion of something.  But judging, condemning someone’s views or ideas, and lessening the importance of an individual or their situation is disrespectful.  It sometimes is a fine line.  But one I intend to continue to focus on and to always ask if I am being respectful when voicing my opinion.  Am I making anyone feel less important?  Am I belittling or treating someone in the way I would want to be treated?  Respecting the world I live in.  Respecting every nation, ethnicity, race and creed.  Respecting that some ideas may conflict with my values, but if t does not effect me personally, I should respect that others have their own beliefs.  Their values are not my values.  But I expect the same treatment.  

Respect.  A word many of us need to spend some time reflecting upon.  


Looking Back to Move Forward

The last week has had me re-examining my life, questioning choices, realizing I may have slipped into old patterns. We all have a vision of what our lives are; where we are going and where we have been. When someone or something destroys your reality, it’s hard to not go backward and rethink every move that got you here.  

No one has a perfect childhood, but the reality is, some are better than others. For me, mine had some really dysfunctional things, but it also had plenty of amazing times: family vacations, dance class, Sunday drives, supportive Mom, Dad’s home-made potato chips, and lots of friendships. The dysfunctional aspects of my childhood I rarely discuss. In all honesty, I’ve put them behind so long ago I question what memories are real and which may not be. And I wonder why it even matters. But those memories or better yet, those experiences, are part of what made me who I am. Why I react to things now at 51 the way I do. It is amazing that things that happened so long ago are still a force in shaping today. 
Am I talking in riddles here? Here’s a prime example. A few weeks ago when my mom was staying with me, something happened between my husband and me which if she wasn’t there, could have been a life changing event. The same thing happened last week and it was this time, with Mom gone, a life changing event. Why wasn’t it when she was here? Because I couldn’t disappoint her. The situation involved just me and my husband. But I knew if I followed through with my beliefs my mom would be upset. I believe – true or not – she would wonder why I put up with the situation at hand. Why I wouldn’t have done something sooner. She has always – in my memory – questioned why I make the choices I make. She’s not being mean, or bad, it is her way of helping me.  
In high school I was in a gifted program. I got to take special classes and have a psychologist give me a test to help guide my future. The only comment I recall from this test, was that I am too dependent on my mom’s opinion. That I had yet to break free and be independent from her expectations and choices. The psychologist recommended we focus on me making independent choices. Not sure if we ever really focused on this, but I think I still have this issue.
So here I am, 51 years old this past week and still trying to please my mother. In looking back, I think I have also grown to be similar with my children. Somehow making them dependent on me and my opinion. That has to stop.  
And this is why sometimes we have to look back to move forward. So although I have spent a good portion of the last 6 days looking backward, today I am looking forward. It is a bit hazy and the path has many obstacles ahead. I need to take what I know from the past but not let it block my journey or be too heavy on my shoulders to move forward. The past helps us understand who we are, but it doesn’t determine who we are. I have that power. I can choose to either let the past control me, or I can use my learnings from the past to control my future. I’m choosing my future. And I am taking control of me and my life. At the same time, I am letting go of controlling those around me. They too must choose their path. 

 All I can do is be a guest on their road.

Homecomings, travel and my grown kids

Today my 23 year old daughter comes home for a week.  She has spent the last 8 months living in Bogota with her Dad’s relatives.  I am so excited to see her, even though it will be rather brief, she, of course, has friends to see and camp to visit.  

In March, we met in Guatemala for a week.  When we booked the trip, there were no plans for her to come home until December.  Not seeing her for over a year was not something I wanted to experience, thus the vacation together.  And I don’t regret it for a second!  Selfishly, I got to spend pretty much every second with her.  I got to watch her converse with a local little boy as he led us through the streets of San Marcos on Lake Atitlan.  I witnessed a young adult conversation between her and one of the hotel workers.  She was confidant in both situations although inside I know she was doubting herself.  She made friends with a young American girl who joined us in our local cooking class.  They were meant to meet each other.  I recall the first day meeting at the airport and driving well over 3 hours to the lake, following chicken buses along the road, she talked non stop.  Telling us stories of her experiences in her new country.  So much to share  with Mark and I.  Very different from the ride back to the airport, 6 days later, when she had no more left to say.  

Spending time with my grown children is something I love!  Although my son lives just a few towns over, I haven’t had that personable time with him in quite a while.  Seems when you live close by, you don’t make the time to just experience life together.  Instead you get caught up with day to day chores of parenting:  helping with things, providing guidance and being a sounding board.  Traveling with adult children is more about experiencing life- together.  Taking time to notice who they are.  Who they are becoming.  

For the last few years I have told my kids this is our last vacation together.  First it was Colorado. Then a surprise trip to Florida.  Than last year my 50th birthday celebration in Michigan.  Each one was the last.  I can lie when I need to….  I don’t ever want to stop traveling with my kids!  My best memories are visiting new places with them.  Seeing the world with them.  

So although I am so excited to have my daughter come home, I am even more excited to take a trip with my son later this summer. And maybe next year, another trip with one or both my kids.  And another and another.  Them coming home will never replace the feelings of wonderment and pure joy I get when experiencing new places with them.  

Always Learning, Always Changing

Last week actually flew by.  I find it a little crazy how some weeks can drag and others move so quick I feel like I didn’t accomplish as much.  But last week not only flew by, I accomplished many things I had been putting off.

I finished Day Job to Dream Job, finally.  Although it didn’t really give me any definite course of action, it made me think.  

I posted in MyWeeklyMenu Facebook page.  Simple posts, thus I am not sharing them, but it’s a start.  I also gave my tech designer and husband concrete ideas on how I want the site to work.  That’s more accomplished on this dream since it was my entrepreneur project during my study abroad course 2 years ago!

I walked.  I have been going to Physical Therapy now for about 5 months.  I’m undecided if it’s helped, but I am able to walk. I walked my 2.5 mile route both Thursday and Sunday.  This week I want to hit 3 times.  Focused on completing a half marathon before the end of the year.

I engaged with my staff.  I love my staff.  But lately I haven’t taken the time to listen and coach them.  Last week I kept to our touchbases and actually brought some topics to the table.  It feels good to make others a priority.  

I blogged.  I cleaned out the mudroom.  I helped build a deck.  I organized our closet.  I researched what to do with old vinyl records. I made time to talk to my daughter who was having a hard time.  I took my husband to lunch for Father’s Day because he’s been an awesome Dad to my two kids.  I took a nap while watching Sunday news shows.  I went to yoga – 3 times.  I went to a baseball game to spend time with my sorority sisters.  Wow!  I did accomplish a lot!  

So at 50, or almost 51 at this point, I’m still doing.  I’m still living.  I’m still finding out who I am. That’s what I am coming to find; no matter the age, as humans we are still exploring, always learning and always changing.  Just because I have hit a certain age, doesn’t mean I have stopped evolving.  That I have stopped growing.  In many ways I still feel like that scared school girl, unsure of so many things.  But that school girl was always headstrong and focused on achieving things: a spelling bee, a part in a play, a dance solo, a high grade.  I’m still that over achiever, but with a half century of experience in life, I now only set out to achieve what matters to me.  What makes me warm and fuzzy on the inside.  So today I am going to keep this flow of energy and accomplishments of the last week moving!  Maybe next week I will have changed the world!  One can dream!

Focus – the Future is ALWAYS out there

I know.  It’s been about 4 months since I took thumbs to phone and posted to this blog.  I could come up with dozens of excuses: vacationing in Guatemala, Mom visiting, teaching, depressed; just a few of the excuses.  But let’s face it, when you really want to do something you do it!  So I guess I just really didn’t want to focus on this blog. Not sure why, but I just couldn’t find a voice. I couldn’t find my focus.  Today I am dusting off my life lense and putting my future in focus.  

I turn 51 in just a few weeks.  Being 50 has definitely changed my outlook.  I no longer think of changing jobs, but instead of changing careers. I know longer feel guilty for missing a meeting or two, people can get along without me.  I stand my ground much more when it comes to my values.  I spend hours thinking of ways to help improve life for my mom and kids.  But mostly, I have realized there is no reason to stop planning a future.  It is always out there. Whether you are a toddler, teenager, recent college grad, a divorced single parent, or a retired senior, tomorrow is another day and that my friends is every reason to keep the future in focus.  The second we stop is the second we cease to truly live.  

My future is going to have me working at many things I have only daydreamed about.  Instead of dreaming, I am going back to planning.  Figuring out what makes the most sense for me.  I am not a huge risk taker, so I will need time to focus in on what I not only want to do, but can do successfully within my frame of mind.  What am I good at?  What is my passion? 

I am doing what I do – studying others advice and trying to put it all together to create my own story.  Today I am reading “Day Job to Dream Job.”  I’ve been reading it for months and it’s only a little over 200 pages.  As I said, I haven’t had much focus these last few months.  But today I am changing lenses resetting and putting my future in focus.  If that holds true, you can bet my thumbs will be typing on this blog again soon! 

“Hate and bigotry wrapped in religious freedom is still hate and bigotry.”

So Indiana passed its version of the religious freedom restoration act.  I have yet to find a simple definition of what exactly the new law allows and does not allow.  With that said I may not have a full understanding, but that also tells me our government should be more transparent and have a summary posted for all to read.  Yes I know there is the exact bill, but even those of us highly educated need lawyers to decipher legal mumbo jumbo so the exact bill is useless unless I hire a personal attorney when I want a complete understanding of a law or bill.  

Any way that was not my point.  This law, from what I can find in the media is to protect an individual’s religious freedom.  I am all for allowing all individuals to worship OR NOT worship a higher being as they see fit.  I thought that was clear in our constitution.  So why do we need these new religious freedom restoration acts?  And yet at the same time we condemn and want to outlaw Sharia law?  Isn’t that hypocritical?
Here is how I see it.  Worship if you choose.  Christians, Jews,  Muslims have religious laws that those of another religion don’t agree with.  I get not wanting Sharia laws in our states and federal government, but I also don’t want Christian laws, or Jewish laws.  A business, is a business.  It is not a person – sorry Mitt.  A business should never follow any type of religious law, but only laws that can be applied to all individuals regardless of their religious beliefs.  So what then is the purpose of this religious freedom restoration act?  I don’t see any problems of individuals worshipping as they choose in Indiana.  But now if they are sued, they can cite their religious beliefs as a defense.  So doesn’t that apply to individuals following sharia law?  I doubt that is what Indiana legislators had in mind, but isn’t that what they are doing?  You can’t just create a law to protect Christian religious beliefs – yet I think that is all they really want to protect.  
I respect everyone’s right to worship as they please.  But religion does not belong in business.  It does not give anyone the right to not follow the laws of society as a whole.  It does not give you the right to disrespect or treat me differently because I don’t follow you religious laws, whether they are Christian, Jewish or Muslim.  If you own a business take religion out of it.  I am sure your God will forgive you for having healthcare that provides birth control or abortions.  I am sure your God will forgive you for providing dinner or flowers at a wedding between two females.  My God will be rejoicing that you are finally living by his teachings – which is to stop judging, stop thinking your beliefs are better than mine, stop condemning others for thinking and believing different than you.  
A quote in my friends Facebook post says it all:   “Hate and bigotry wrapped in religious freedom is still hate and bigotry. “. I don’t know where the quote is from, but it says it all.  
This fifty year old straight woman believes that religion can be a good thing.  When it is a personal choice and it is respectful of others and is left out of government, schools and business.  Keep your faith in your house of worship and in your home.  I think we need a law for us non religious folks – the freedom of no religion reformation act!  If I owned a business could I decide not to serve you for believing gay people do not have the rite to marry?  I’m sure that is not protected by this law as it is not a religious belief – just a personal belief.  Now isn’t that unfair… 


Tears and Fears

Emotions.  Why do we – or maybe it’s just me- so why do I let them get the best of me?  Most of the time I am a calm rational person.  I can engage in philosophical arguments and most of the time – not all as I am far from perfect- keep it respectful. But then there are the times emotions take over.  I become defensive, loud, mean and it leaves me feeling depressed, angry, frustrated and overall sad.  

This was me last week.  An emotional wreck.  I let my boss get the better of me.  And by Friday night I rode the train home silently staring out the window as tears rolled down my face.  What was I crying about.  I wasn’t even sure and still couldn’t explain exactly why.  But there I was, crying and feeling lost and confused.
I truly am a believer in the fact that although we cannot control what happens to us, we can control how we respond.  So why did I respond to a bad week at work, by crying?  I think there are a few reasons.
First, crying is a stress reliever.  When we hold our emotions in, which obviously in a work environment, we have to be less emotional, more with persona of cool and calm.  So crying is a way to let those tightly wound up and hidden emotions out.  Otherwise, if kept inside, they will kill us!  So it seems normal that my crying was a great way to empty those emotions and finally breathe.
But I don’t think that explains everything.  My tears were also a sign of fear.  It is my way of coping with being too scared to change my circumstances.  As noted in previous posts, I don’t really like my job any more.  For the last few years I have lacked satisfaction.  There is no feeling of what I am doing making any difference in the world.  I want to make a difference!  I have so many ideas!  Yet I am so scared to go after any of them!  I talk about it, but I don’t take action.  I plan, but I never execute!  My tears were also the sadness that I feel because I can’t seem to move beyond my fears!
Today I am coming to grips with this fear.  I am acknowledging it if nothing more. I may never be able to move past it, but I must first acknowledge it exists to even consider challenging it and winning against it!  Fear holds us back in many ways.  Sometimes to protect us but sometimes to make us stronger as we stare down the fear and overpower it with motivation and determination.
I am not sure I will power through this fear and conquer it, but I will at least spend some time getting to know it.  Why it is here?  To protect me?  And if so from what?  Or is it here to force me to look it in the eye and move right past it. Maybe tomorrow I will have a better answer.
My horoscope today is hinting at something: “you are in a construction phase, a good time to set the foundation.”  Is overcoming my fears a foundation to making the changes I am so fearful of?