Friday, November 27, 2009

Buy Handmade Items

Shopping online is a great way to avoid the crowds this season. Besides, some of the best artisans in the world sell their wares on Etsy.com! I am a big fan of hand-made and one of a kind gifts, but don't always have the time or the talent to do justice for the occasion. Some of the vendors in the Etsy community will even create custom orders, so you can get exactly what you want! And the variety is amazing. You can find anything there from soap, jewelry, hand bags, toys, home d├ęcor and original oil paintings to lavish costumes, furniture, even medieval armour reproductions! You avoid the retail markups because you're buying direct from the manufacturer. If you haven't taken a look, please do so!

When you join as a seller or buyer, please use "luvoutrage" as your referral.

It is important to preserve the value of working with our hands and using our imagination to create the unique and beautiful. Etsy.com celebrates this like no other place on the internet. Various sample items will now appear as a regular feature on the front page of this blog (on the right-hand side ------->).

Monday, November 2, 2009

43 Things, Track Your Goals

We usually associate goals with ambitious people, but they are useful to everyone. Goals keep content and happy people from stagnating.

I found a wonderful website for tracking your personal goals called 43Things. The website allows you to state your goals in a list, update what steps you've taken to reach them. In addition, it allows you to cheer on and to receive encouragement from others. Putting goals in writing and getting support really helps with motivation. Try it out!

An Odd Alcoholism

Many people limit their definitions of alcoholism to exclude their own behavior or the behavior of a loved one. They may say that people who drink to excess only on social occasions, who are able to function at work the following day, who don’t react violently, who don’t drink hard liquor, and those whose livers’ haven’t failed are excluded. This is not the case.

My father began experimenting with tobacco and alcohol as a very young teenager. Out of fear of her husband’s militant unreasonableness, my grandmother blindly ignored whatever she discovered about her children’s vices and even aided them in covering up the truth about their addictions. I say "their" since my aunts and uncles have addiction issues as well.

My mother discovered the tobacco and alcohol dependence after they had wed, just as the first child was conceived. At 18 years of age, she had a dilemma. How would she protect her children from the influence of chemical dependency? Having an uncommonly strong will, she simply set boundaries for her household and Dad was expected to fall in line out of respect for his wife and love for his children. These boundaries were firmly established and consistently policed. Chewing tobacco was allowed if disposed of in proper receptacles, but smoking was too dangerous to little lungs to be tolerated. Staggering, puking, and slurring was unacceptable; hard liquor was strictly forbidden. So, my father spent each night of his life secluded in an easy chair nursing beer after beer until it was bedtime. In every happy childhood memory I have, Dad was not a participant, but an object in the room. When we reached our teens, he would occasionally indulge in hard liquor at a local bar, but he dared not come home until the household was sound asleep. On one or two occasions, I heard my father getting sick in the restroom. Once, when Mom was away from home, Dad recklessly pulled into the driveway, nearly missing our dog, parked very crookedly, exited his vehicle, and immediately threw up. By that time, my parents were fighting frequently over the escalating alcohol consumption, so it became common knowledge that we had been living with an alcoholic. It was a fairly new idea. My mother had protected us from the man with whom we had lived under the same roof for years. Once my siblings and I left the house, his alcoholism spun out of control.

He was struggling to keep up with the younger men on his construction crew, so he took a retail job at a sporting goods store. It was easier work and suited his interests in hunting and camping and fishing. Unfortunately, the first day, he was sent home after he returned from his lunch break smelling of beer. The manager was understanding, realizing that one beer with a slice of pizza did not constitute drunkenness, but could not allow his employee working the gun counter to smell of beer. He did not fire him, merely sent him home for the day with a warning. Dad resigned on the spot, knowing he could not make it through an 8-hour day without a single beer. Of course, he blamed the manager for presuming to run his life and monitor his off-the-clock activities.

Eventually, he left my mother. His reason was that he no longer saw any advantage in curbing his habits and wanted to be free to drink without her enforcing restraint. He insisted that he was no alcoholic. His justification: he had never been violent when drunk, he held down a job, his liver was healthy. So, he left his wife and home for a beverage. A few months later, he showed up on my mother’s doorstep, quite a broken man, asking for some equipment the family used for camping. She suspected that he was living out of his vehicle, so she let him take the items. She reminded him that he would be welcomed home if he gave up the beer. No.
Left to his own devices, without my mother’s restraint, he is no longer able to hold down jobs for long. He bounces around from construction crew to construction crew, living with one relative after another; and I am sure that his health cannot be good.

Alcoholism is alcoholism long before it ruins anyone’s life.

Working the System

I worked for a non-profit business where we saw many atrocities during the holiday season. Our company gave toys to needy local children. We were shocked at how many tried to get more than their share during the event. We wanted to offer iPods to teenagers, but previous years had taught us that parents of small children were choosing the iPods for themselves instead of choosing age-appropriate toys and books for their children. Also, mothers, fathers, and grandfathers were registering the same child to get three times the amount of gifts. Or people were driving to the event in brand new Hummers with custom rims, doubtless bought by illegal means while collecting food stamps and taking full advantage of housing.
One of my coworkers commented, "If people would work half as hard at finding a job as they do jumping through government hoops for assistance, they’d be rich."
I knew one woman who was trying to get custody of an 8 year old girl that her husband had fathered in his youth. I wondered why they would pursue this so seriously since they had 2 children of their own and relied heavily on government assistance, so I asked about the girl’s situation. She apparently had had no significant contact with her father and was being raised by two loving grandparents. Well, why would they take her from a comfortable lifestyle to live in their cramped apartment in the projects amid constant domestic drama? The answer was appalling: "Because if we have 3 or 4 children, the housing authority will put us in a home outside of the projects, and since my last miscarriage, we’ve given up on having more children of our own. That is why we have to get custody of his daughter." That may be the most selfish thing ever uttered from a human’s mouth, but she said it as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She even wondered how my husband and I are able to afford to live and pay our taxes without the earned income credit. My answer was that we could never afford to raise children on our income, but she insisted that if you know how to work the system, you can have everything. So, food stamps and the projects are the American Dream, huh?
When I was in the fourth grade, my father was laid off. He was very proud and had made a good living (although he drank enough to make us poor). He did not want to accept help, but my mother helped him to see that providing for his family now meant that he must apply for LEAP and food stamps, etc. As children, it was no shame to us to get government cheese and butter. We were glad to have it, but when we no longer needed a handout, we did not seek ways to prolong the mercy that had been extended to us. There’s no sense in watching your family starve because you are too proud to stand in a line. But the truly grateful will move on allowing those with a current need their turn for relief.
I knew a woman in very poor health who did not like to use the motorized shopping cart at Walmart because she might see someone with an even more pressing need for a motorized cart struggling to shop. I wish everyone could be as considerate of others.

Repossession

I work at a car auction, so we do not repossess vehicles, they are simply brought to our facility for resale. Occasionally, people finally come up with the money to get their car back, just days or hours before their car is sold. I am sometimes privy to conversations regarding vehicle redemption. The encounters range from comical to ludicrous to civil to hostile and beyond. The one thing that they all have in common is that people are very "put out" when their vehicle is repossessed for non-payment. They seem to blame everyone but themselves and are always dissatisfied at how complicated it is to redeem their debt. Now, the bank is not interested in getting the vehicle back; they prefer having their money. Therefore, the bank extends every possible chance for the buyer to make their payments. Repossession is a last resort. One woman had to take a weekday of f of work without pay (since we are closed on the weekends, but the daily fines accumulate). She had to convince a friend to drive her to our facility (a 2 hour drive, one-way). When she got there, she hadn’t brought enough money and had to borrow $10 from her teen daughter. Then she learned that her plates were gone (we remove them prior to reselling the vehicle), and claimed that valuable items missing from her vehicle. Now, if you’ve been getting collection calls for two months and repossession is eminent, your car--the bank’s property--is probably not the best place to be storing your valuables.

One woman’s young son told the redemption lady, "Yeah, these two jerks stole my mom’s car." This child actually thought that his mother had been the victim of a crime. I wanted to say, "Really? Is that what you want to teach him?" Doesn’t anyone take responsibility for their own inaction anymore?

It surprises me how much money these people appear to be wearing on their bodies. They haven’t had money enough to pay their car bill, but they have their hair and nails done and sport high-end shoes and coats. No wonder people have trouble sympathizing with the poor.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

I have recently secured a job after several months of agonizing job hunting. The job is not glamorous, but it is one of the few jobs I have ever had where I was valued for my performance itself. That brings the most fulfilling sense of satisfaction that I have ever experienced regarding secular employment. I have very little responsibility and endless busy-work that requires quickness and accuracy. I am very good at it and have quickly gained the trust of my supervisor. I am terribly over-qualified, but am well-paid for what I do. I remarked to a coworker what a relief it is not to be the go-to person in charge of everything for the first time in 6 years. She remarked that it would not be long before my talents would be discovered and I would be moved up the ladder. Then, she decided to take it upon herself to probe into what my talents might be. Her condescending question came, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

Her question revealed that she felt my position was indeed menial, and that I was indeed capable of better. I was strangely flattered and insulted in the same instant. The idea of contentment is wholly foreign to the ambitious. In her view, it is quite impossible that I could be truly happy in my current situation—even though that was precisely what I had expressed. Her question was one you ask of a child who has no accomplishments. My accomplishments and my identity are not closely tied with my profession as it is with hers. My work is not my life, it is merely what makes my life affordable. I suppose that makes me a minority. If I was the CEO of a fortune five hundred company, my job would not define me.

I finally hazarded an answer to the effect that my life’s passion is to live a simple, happy life for me and my husband. I have this year seen my marriage reach the 15 year mark. She agreed that was an accomplishment, but dismissed it as unfulfilling since we have no children. She has made it a project of hers to subtly impose on me a need for continued education or promotion or child bearing.

I have not done anything to curb her because she is well-meaning and quite likely in a position to negotiate a promotion for me. I would not object to a promotion, but neither is it my reason for living. I wonder at the presumptuousness of one who gives themselves license to advise someone in his pursuit of happiness when they have not first achieved it for themselves.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Negative Thinking

Several members of my family see a doctor specializing in alternative medicine. He listens very closely to people when they describe themselves and their symptoms. You think that he is just making conversation, but he is diagnosing you by the language you use. My grandmother, for instance, described her loss of memory. She could have said, "I’ve been slipping a bit lately and it concerns me." Instead, she said, "It may just be a case of my own stupidity, but I want you to check." The doctor picked up on the word "stupidity" and realized that she was very hard on herself when he probed for particular instances of memory lapse. He explained to her that this negative dialog, which is usually silent and internal, causes a physiological response that is very detrimental to your health. Conversely, positive dialog has a good effect on your body. However, the negative word responses last much longer than positive ones. It isn’t just about negative thoughts and emotions; it is actually about vocabulary. Also, saying them aloud evokes a stronger response. Remember THAT next time you think about dropping an F-bomb on someone!

A friend of mine often tells her young child, "use your words." I never realized how skillful use of words could safeguard your health. Choose your words carefully.

A Little Nice Goes A Long Way

My coworker came into my office once expressing concern for a tornado that had hit a remote town in our part of the county. She worried, "I hope Jim’s son is okay." I did not know a Jim. She thought it was very rude of me not to know that "Jim" was the name of our UPS delivery person who we saw on a daily basis. It had never occurred to me to learn the man’s name; I just smile politely, and sign for packages so as not to delay his progress. I expressed surprise that she knew not only the man’s name, but also his son. She said that she had never met his son, did not know Jim outside of work, but at some point in the distant past, she remembered a mention of a son who lived in that tiny town 60 miles away. It was quite impossible for her to work and so she lingered near the mailroom on the watch for the UPS man, her vigil for the man’s son’s well-being had been her foremost concern since first she heard the weather report. All this angst for a man she had never met, and yet it was nothing to her that corporate was breathing down our necks, expecting results, checking in our progress on a pressing matter for which we were drawing wages. We definitely have a different style of prioritizing. I had often said that while she had no place in our line of work, she would make a brilliant door greeter at Walmart. I am convinced that within 6 months she would know every customer, their employer, and their family lineage.

As bewildered as I was by the unnecessary gesture, I did learn that while the UPS man did like to be free to go on his way after delivering our shipment, he also appreciated the fact that I learned and used his name. I think we got better service, and got moved to an earlier slot on the route as a result of being shown extraordinary personal interest. It worked on the FedEx guy too when our company switched services. Delivery people also like to be offered bottled water on hot days.

Why Complicate A Simple Life?

Some of the best advice I ever received regarding marriage came at a religious convention that I attended where the audience was encouraged to lead a simple life, being content with the necessities of life: food, shelter, and clothing. They interviewed a young married couple who was working hard to acquire all of the things that their parents had: a nice home, big TV, new vehicles, etc. To them, these material things would secure and define their newly formed family unit. But after feeling the burden of these pursuits and going into heavy debt, they realized that it had taken their parents 40 years to accumulate all of those things. It really is unreasonable to think that in 6 months to a year, you could accomplish the same feat. My husband and I took this to heart and have lived with the same 13" color television set for 13 years before upgrading to the 27" flat screen—which we paid for in cash. Taking the focus off of things has allowed us to focus on our relationship. We attribute the whole success of our marriage to this lesson. I can’t recall a single argument about money.

Our society in general bombards us with the message that more is more, and more is never enough. The whole world is chasing after what they can never secure. Lesson learned: Less is more. Living simply means living happily.

Job Hunting in a Down Economy

The failing economy has really hurt folks in my part of the world. Everything costs a little more than it used to and the unemployment rate of 10% really hit home when I was let go from my job in May. Thankfully, my husband and I live a very simple life, so we are able to survive on his minimum wage job and the little bit I get from unemployment insurance benefits. When the weather turns cold though, I’m going to be desperate for a job to cover the higher utilities. So, this summer I have been aggressively searching for work. Having had an opportunity at my former employment to advance my career to the level of Executive Administrative Assistant, I was eager to look for work. I immediately got a lead for an opening at the State college for which I immediately applied. A few weeks later I received a rejection letter. It was a disappointment, but I still had many prospects. I applied for a position with the city and with the sheriff’s office, but was not even considered worthy of an interview.

The merciful thing in all of this is that most employers want you to apply online, where you are met with a civil greeting thanking you for interest in their company. However, I suspect that most employers in this city are using this method to keep serious applicants at a distance while they hire in their nieces and nephews. Other employers are asking that applicants arrive in person to deliver their resume. Unfortunately, by the time you get there with your smiling face, the staff has already been inundated with 500 applicants in three days! So exhausted was the receptionist at the city that she had abandoned her desk. What greeted applicants was a sign pointing to blank application forms instructing completed applications be placed face-down in a basket. I stood around hoping to catch someone in the hallway to ask how soon they might be scheduling interviews, but no one would allow their eyes to be caught or their ears to hear. Later, I heard that a nearby convenience store had received over 3000 applications after running an ad for a store clerk.

The economy has made employers mean. At my former job, we had many openings for unskilled workers at a minimum wage pay rate. We were filling those openings with people who had routinely made $15/hr. A few months before, we would have considered these applicants to be over-qualified and refused to hire them for fear they would leave too quickly. But when the government started bailing out banks and car companies, things changed. Those CDL drivers, construction workers, and professionals alike were happy to take menial jobs. And while some of us did leave for better jobs, most of them stayed and we built a stellar workforce. I’ve also noticed that the descriptions in the job listings don’t say "willing to train" anymore. Employers are holding out longer, waiting for a person who already has the exact qualifications and skills they want. Worse than that, employers are treating their current employees as those who could easily be replaced by someone even better! Because people are fearful, they are accepting abuses they would not have tolerated before.

Yesterday I secured an interview with a CEO looking to hire an assistant. We seemed to have a good rupore and similar business sense. It went so well, I thought there was a very good chance that I might be offered the job on the spot. But suddenly, the interview ended with him saying that he had many other applicants to consider in the days ahead. I think he realized that the probability of finding someone he liked EVEN BETTER might be very high and he didn’t want to settle for me without exploring that posibility. While I understand that perspective, I resent it. It is like refusing to marry the man of your dreams because you might find someone just like him only taller or more slender.

Rejection Letters

It is a courtesy to receive word from an area employer notifying you that you did not secure a job with them. I appreciate knowing one way or another, and the disappointment is light and momentary. Sometimes these letters offer a spark of hope for future openings, or note how long your information will be kept on file.

The worst part for me is not the disappointment. My one insecurity about competing with the women in my field is that I do not have a college education. After applying for a job with the State university, I received a rejection letter. I can see why a college would want their staff to be college-educated, and anticipated that would hurt my chances. So, I was prepared for rejection. The words of the letter themselves were kind and encouraging, but loaded with errors in punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc. I can’t help but think that the person who did get the job is probably the writer of this messy letter. I wonder how they have 3rd grade writing skills AFTER going to college. I am tempted to edit the letter with a red pencil and submit it along with my resume for the next job opening they post.

Compulsive Editing

My husband calls me Grammar Girl, a nickname that I relish, imagining that it sounds like that of a superhero. He usually says it when I am being neurotic about someone’s mistake.
Once we were hearing a lecture on how the internet is helping an organization reach a global audience. The animated speaker fired out this announcement, "we’ve developed a world class website to reach scores of people with our message!" Scores? Scores? That many, huh? I snickered a little louder than I expected and embarrassed my husband. I thought it was common knowledge that a score is twenty. (You may have learned The Gettysburg Address in 5th grade: "Four score and seven years ago our forefathers…." Four score and seven years is 87 years.) A company doesn’t pour time and money into a website to reach dozens of people, it’s goal is to reach millions. Why would you stand up in front of an enormous crowd and use words you don’t know how to define? I thought it was ludicrous and had a very difficult time taking the speaker seriously from that point onward.

Some friends were visiting us from Mexico and the man showed me the software with which he creates his web pages. The software and the site itself were fascinating. While browsing through it, I found many little errors in grammar and spelling here and there. So, I asked if he might allow me to edit it. He speaks English very well, but Spanish is his native tongue. With his permission, I started correcting under his watchful eye. About half way through, I realized that he was positively mortified, so I apologized. He insisted, "No, no continue. If it is wrong, please correct it." I assured him that I was only making cosmetic changes, and that the content was still intact. I was afraid that I had overstepped my grounds, but I might as well finish. Finally, he divulged the reason he was so upset. He had paid an American college graduate to edit everything for him and was upset that they had obviously done a poor job. I told him that I would take my good high school education over college any day!

Reality Crushes Ambition

A corporate sales manager made a point to speak with me on one of his visits to our branch. I knew my supervisor had thought of moving me into sales, and this was no doubt a casual, but purposeful investigation into my suitability. He asked me what the company’s best features were, what gave us a competitive edge. I frankly stated that I saw little difference between us and our competitor. He did not believe that I could be in earnest, since I had worked there loyally for over 4 years. He gave me a few examples, but I had little interest in his examples. He could not understand how I could not be impressed by the cited accomplishments and statistics. Desperate for common ground in what was fast becoming an uncomfortable conversation, I searched for agreement. But I could not honestly admit his arguments any substance, disappointed as I was at that point with my employment.

He attempted to approach from another strange angle. He asked me, "what is your most pervasive characteristic, the quality that drives your thoughts and actions most directly?" I looked deep inside myself for a philosophical reply and came up with: "Justice. I want everything to make sense and be right and just. Not equal, but just. I am preoccupied with justice." He had intended to turn my answer into a motive to sell product and services, but justice gave him no mark at which to aim. He was baffled. Baffled that I had stumped him; baffled that someone could be so wholly unlike his ambitious self; baffled that he who prides himself on his powers of persuasion could not convince me. He hinted at how much money there was to be made in sales, but I am satisfied with what my tiny salary provides. He was further baffled. I felt the need to explain my perspective, so I related the tale (told earlier in this blog) about my father who had every skill to build dream homes and would never have one of his own. He pitied my dad because, from his perspective, Dad had given up on his dreams instead of making them reality. The sales coach did not see that a corrupt world that fails to reward people was to blame. Or, more likely, he did see—for the first time—that it isn’t reasonable to shoot for the moon when you’re bound to fall short. Only those with rockets can reach the moon, and only then for a fleeting moment.

He had come to rally my spirits, and instead, allowed me to dash his. I truly believe that a piece of him died that day, right before my eyes. I pity him, for being so defeated by a dose of reality. I think that is the danger in ambition: failure is hardest for the ambitious because they can never be satisfied with less than their fantasy.

Happiness Is An Inside Job

My friend’s wise mother was asked what she wished she had known as a first time bride, something that took her a lifetime to discover. She said, "I married young. I was idealistic, and I expected my husband to bring me happiness. But I was lonely; I was needy. Finally, I learned that happiness is an inside job. If you’re miserable, that is what you’re going to bring to a marriage. If you’re happy, then that is what you’ll bring into a marriage. You have to take full responsibility for your own feelings. Making another person responsible for all of your happiness is too much to expect, even from the most devoted husband."

Most people think that if they can just find a mate, then they will be happy. But that isn’t the way it works. Perhaps that is why more and more people feel that a marriage ceremony is dispensable. If they are already happy, they may reason, "why take another step?" True, marriage does not save rocky relationships. But marriage isn’t about getting happiness. It is about making a commitment to work to maintain a life conducive to one another’s happiness. "In sickness and in health, richer or poorer…"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hard Work Pays Off?

When I was in the fifth grade, my father moved us to Phoenix, AZ in search of construction work. He joined a crew building homes to the stars in Scottsdale. One weekend, he took the family for a tour of this immense mansion because he was proud of his work but felt ill-equipped to describe the project in accurate terms. It was the most amazing thing that I’d ever seen, far grander than usual. Concrete was being poured for the Olympic-sized swimming pool, the tennis courts were completed, and the entry had a lighting fixture on a scale I had only seen in a shopping mall. It was an impressive sight, even though there was no carpet, tile, or furnishings. Truly, in my wildest dreams I could never have imagined something so luxurious. Our family of five drove back to our three bedroom rental home chattering excitedly about the features of the mansion and what it might be like to live in a place like that. I reasoned that Dad’s dream was always to build his own home, and it was obvious that he possessed the necessary skills. So, I asked when we might be able to have a home like that. To my surprise, my parents laughed. Then the answer came: NEVER. Why? I struggled internally to discover my mistake. I realized that it takes time and money to plan a good home, and I knew it was the result of many laborers. So, I reasoned that each crew member would have to save money and be willing to work on one another’s homes—but eventually—each crew member would have a dream home of their own. I considered carefully my line of reasoning and it was definitely sound. So, I proposed the idea. More laughter resulted. I was stumped, so they explained that people in our class don’t enjoy the privileges of the rich. Well, then, I asked how one becomes rich. The answer that followed was not memorable, but I got the distinct impression that being rich had to do with hard work. "But Dad is the hardest worker I know. If he can’t get rich, then who can?" My logic was flawless, and yet I was told that the world doesn’t work that way, and I would understand when I was older.
Well, I am older, but this life lesson still perplexes me. People everywhere are buying into the myth that if you work hard enough, you can get anything and everything you want. If that were true, every single mother working 3 jobs would be driving Mercedes and vacationing in Cancun. The wealthiest live lives of leisure. Leisure is the enemy of hard work. There is something very broken about our world. No one in my circle has ever gotten rich, unless you count a boss I once had that embezzled 100K on top of her 50K salary for which she worked about 2 hours per day. At last report, she is furthering her education and frequenting local spas and salons to maintain her Sex-in-the-City look! I can’t afford to get a manicure, much less afford a college degree. Lesson: many work hard, few get rich.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Personality's Role

One of the top 10 best things I’ve ever done for myself is to take this personality test:

http://humanmetrics.com/#Jung%20Myers-Briggs

I discovered much about my personality type (INTJ), which gave me insight into why I relate to the world with such high levels of frustration. Reading the description of my type, enabled me to articulate why I see things as I do. It helped me realize that other types (99% of the population) do not process information in the same way. That was an ah-ha moment for me. I was holding the entire world to the same standards, assuming that everyone could see the obvious direction they should take, but then inexplicably, decide to take a ridiculous course of action.

Reasonableness is not a possession of all people. That was a new concept to me.

Let me illustrate the benefits by telling about conflicts that I have had with coworkers. My boss announced at staff meetings some new procedure. A system builder by nature, I immediately began contemplating how this would affect each department. I voiced several concerns, questioning what we should do in this or that case. He had not thought that far ahead, and was irritated that I would automatically find fault with the announcement. I was thinking, "How can he ignore the obvious ramifications of this decision?" He was thinking, "How can she presume to know how it will affect the entire organization?" Later, this would all be explained to me by understanding personality types. Concepts are easily understood by INTJ types, and we can quickly grasp the inter-workings of business. My boss was another type entirely; a type that needs to implement an idea before it can be fully understood.

Another trait of INTJ types is that we have low tolerance for slackers. I shared responsibilities with another woman in the office. She was always at least 15 minutes late for work. Once she arrived, her first order of business was to socialize with each and every employee. By the time she made her way around to me, asking how my evening had been, I was furious. Even though she slacked at her own work and distracted others from their work, the supervisors tolerated her because she was nice. I mean "nice" like a basket full of fluffy kittens. Nice has little value to an INTJ type because we live inside of ourselves, and put a moderate value on friendships. Well, I determined that I would not fall victim to the distraction, so when she approached me, I blasted her. "Do you even realize how late you are?!?! I have been working for an hour, doing your work, while you chit chat with everyone. It is time for you to go to your desk and get some work done!" She was crushed and spent the entire day trying to figure out how she might improve my mood. Every few minutes she would peek in on me and ask if she could run to the bakery for me, buy me lunch, or be a shoulder to cry on. I insisted that what I needed from her was work, but she was so preoccupied with my mood, that she could not think to work. Well, I finally discovered that some types are people-oriented and intensly people-focused. These types make wonderful event planners because they are natural hosts and care-givers.

Once I identified this difference, I changed my approach. Instead of scolding her when she asked how my evening had been, I pushed myself away from my desk, slouched in my chair in a relaxed pose, and with as much exuberance as I could muster said, "I watched a movie with my husband, went to bed early, and got some much-needed rest. Thank you for asking." It took less than a minute to have this conversation, but it was enough to satisfy her. To my relief, she proceeded to her desk and actually spent the day working. I never would have figured out on my own that some people need to know that all is well with the folks around them before they can focus on their duties.

Lessons learned: Know thyself. Accept that you are unlike others, and they are unlike you. The sooner you realize how foreign you are, the sooner you will begin to develop skills that allow you to manage the differences.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blog Title Origin

I spend a disproportional amount of mental energy trying to find order and meaning when these negative emotions surface. And, of course, I verbalize these to anyone who will listen, hoping for the magic feedback that will explain all that perplexes or disturbs. My husband’s ears are the most accessible ones and so he is barraged with my daily tales of confusion and frustration. I can be rather animated in the telling of tales, and prone to exaggeration. He, on the other hand, is more tolerant of bad behavior, and wonders why any explanation is needed. He cannot understand why I cannot just accept that people don’t make sense. Once, while I was in the throws of one such animated speech, he asked me why I get so worked up about things I cannot change—and I just blurted out, "Because outrage is my favorite emotion!"
We had a good laugh at me. That moment demonstrated to me that it is possible to find humor in what should rightly enrage. The title of the blog reminds me of the importance of remaining emotionally balanced despite attacks on one’s sensibilities. Negative emotion such as outrage can be addictive, so one needs to indulge sparingly.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Complaint Blog?

You may be thinking, "not another complaint blog where some nobody vents their pet peeves, imagining that readers need others to fuel their discontentment." Believe me, I feel the same way. I have internal conflict enough to keep my own tempers warm at night, and so I’ve put off this blog project for a time. In the end, however, I decided that journaling these happenings, seeing them pieced into one body might help me finally define the relationship that I have with my surroundings and the world in general. The obvious benefits are to myself, but perhaps my creative writing skills will make it readable for a larger audience. As the site unfolds, I think you will find that I have a singular viewpoint and an anti-typical vantagepoint that amuses.