Category Archives: Work

Why? An Answer For Me

Most of my life has been lived outside the mainstream.

As a kid and a young adult, I always felt my difference as pain, as loneliness. And I wished that I could be like everyone else, that I could be popular that I could somehow transform from the short, pudgy, smart girl I was to the cheerleader or the prom queen.

I wanted to be on the inside, invited to parties, going on dates, gossiping, laughing at the oddballs and outsiders. I never made it – not in high school, not while working my way through college at Walt Disney World, not in graduate school and not in my long, rich career.

For years, decades actually, ranging across the 45+ years of my peripatetic career, I longed to be part of the crowd that always seemed to be having such a rollicking good time, drinking, laughing, talking, sleeping around, no cares, no worries, no anxiety.

For years, my various bosses, Division VPs and Line of Business Presidents in corporations and GMs and News Directors at television stations and up and down the East coast told me I didn’t fit. I was an oddball, a weirdo, not quite one of them. They constantly cajoled, ridiculed, and bullied me about my “misanthropic view” of my co-workers.

They also used me to, “…get the job done.”

Anywhere there was a problem, striking workers, poor business performance, failing systems, failing management — it didn’t matter what was going wrong – universally they sent “…Pat. She’ll figure it out, fix it, clean it up.”

And I did. And they paid me handsomely.

Why was I successful when no one else was? I was on the outside.

I didn’t care…about people, about feelings, about belonging. I found the problem, cleared the trash out, fixed the system or the management and moved on. I was not just disliked; I was hated. If I showed up at a unit, everyone knew I had the highest level of backing. Everyone knew someone was going to be fired.

When people actually had the courage to tell me they didn’t like me, my standard response was, “You don’t have to like me; we’re not sleeping together. You have to figure out how to work with me. So get on with it.”

Why? Was I stronger than the rest? Better? Braver?

I always wondered why I was able to carry my loneliness on my shoulders year after year, why kept doing the dirty job of cleaning up behind the elephants.

Sunday morning, November 27th, 2016, in response to a simple question from my husband, I knew why. I hung the laundry out that morning, before the sun came up. Yes, it was cold out — freezing, actually.

When he asked why, my short, simple answer was, “It was the right thing to do.” Not the easiest, not the least painful, not the fastest but the right thing.

Something shifted every so slightly the moment those words slipped out of my mouth and into the cold, clear air of dawn. I knew why I didn’t open the door, go inside with the everyone else, give up a bit of myself to be one of them.

It was the right thing to do.

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Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Gifts, Life & Death, Mysteries, Work

Amazing Thinking & Amazing Insights from BrainPickings

My Osteopath introduced me to Brain Pickings.

It’s hard to put this eclectic, philosophical, introspective and intriguing site into words but founder, collator, researcher, writer and bottle washer, Maria Popova offers this description:

“Brain Pickings is my one-woman labor of love — a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why. Mostly, it’s a record of my own becoming as a person — intellectually, creatively, spiritually — and an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life.”

Every week, when I click through a link in Popova’s newsletter, I feel like I imagine Alice felt when she fell down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. But this Wonderland is more of a literary and intellectual salon — a place of good food, good wine, good conversation and always, good insights.

In one of these rabbit holes, I discovered why I did what I did for a living despite the fact that it was mind numbing and simultaneously self important.  I worked in corporations. I know how much there is to do, how good it feels to cross off items on your list of work.

I could never articulate just how intellectually and spiritually deadening my work environment was.  Then Popova shared a passage written almost 70 years ago by writer Willa Cather who was writing in response to her long time companion, Sarah Jewitt:

My Dear, Dear Miss Jewett;

Such a kind and earnest and friendly letter as you sent me! I have read it over many times. I have been in deep perplexity these last few years, and troubles that concern only one’s habits of mind are such personal things that they are hard to talk about. You see I was not made to have to do with affairs — what Mr. McClure calls “men and measures.”

If I get on at that kind of work it is by going at it with the sort of energy most people have to exert only on rare occasions. Consequently I live just about as much during the day as a trapeze performer does when he is on the bars — it’s catch the right bar at the right minute, or into the net you go. I feel all the time so dispossessed and bereft of myself.

My mind is off doing trapeze work all day long and only comes back to me when it is dog tired and wants to creep into my body and sleep. I really do stand and look at it sometimes and threaten not to take it in at all — I get to hating it so for not being any more good to me. Then reading so much poorly written matter as I have to read has a kind of deadening effect on me somehow.

I know that many great and wise people have been able to do that, but I am neither large enough nor wise enough to do it without getting a kind of dread of everything that is made out of words. I feel diluted and weakened by it all the time — relaxed, as if I had lived in a tepid bath until I shrink from either heat or cold.

Popova finishes these observations with this very salient quote from Parker Palmer, “… “the tighter we cling to the norm of effectiveness the smaller the tasks we’ll take on.”

That was my life; don’t let it be yours.

 

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Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Education, Inspiring People, Life & Death, Uncategorized, Work

Life After Working in Education

There is life after work.  Actually there is life after teaching for 30 years in our broken down, politically charged education system….and Ms. D proves it.

How I loved this post!

I’m not sure how she survived 30 years in education except it must have been for the kids.  I’m on my 3rd year (out of retirement) and I am stunned by the amount of energy given over to politics and the pettiness with so little time left for the students.

One of Ms. D’s comments just made me laugh out loud.  She is listing things she will NOT miss about her teaching career and this was my favorite – “Endure being told that I am blunt and intimidating because I have decades of experience and am not afraid to say what I think.”

I got that in corporate America with the added insult that my behavior didn’t go down well because, and I quote, “You are a woman.”  A-bloody-mazing.

I read then re-read this post of a woman who has and is reclaiming her life and herself and I was so impressed that I had to share it.  When I finished I sat in front of my laptop with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face knowing that Ms. D probably saved a whole lot of kids from the trash heap of their parents’ and neighborhoods’ lives, that she endured…despite the odds.

I hope you enjoy this.  The Year in Review « FARMHOUSE BY THE FALLS.

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The Creative Adult is the Child Who Has Survived | LinkedIn

I have long thought that each and every adult has the opportunity, every day, to help grow a child’s imagination and dreams or at least keep the spark of the dream alive.

Unfortunately many adults don’t even know they have this power.  They blunder through their lives wounding young souls, stepping on dreams, breaking small hearts.

The very first time I thought this, I was walking to work.  I was on 11th Street  when I heard shouting.  A big, burly woman was leaning over a tiny child, screaming at him that he was stupid, that he was worthless.

I walked over to her, got between her and the little boy and told her to find someone else to hurt.  If she wanted someone her own size, she could try me.

Time stopped for a moment.  Her eyes glittered in her angry face which was inches from mine; her fists balled up and rose slowly.  The little boy’s face was upturned, fear struggling with wonder at what was happening right in front of him.  I waited.

Suddenly all the bluster went out of her.  Tears welled in her eyes. Her hands dropped to her sides.  She talked about her lost job, her failed marriage, her fear, her sorrow, her anger.

I put my arms around her and  held her while she cried.  Slowly, we both realized that the boy, her son, had wrapped an arm around her leg and an arm around mine and was holding on, tight.

The mother and I smiled at each other. We smiled at him.  She knelt down, held him and said, “I’m sorry.”  His face turned toward me, his eyes wide and his smile wider.  When she stood, she leaned toward me, smiling, and whispered, “You have God in you.  Thank you.”

I hugged her back, told her that if she ever needed help, I came by this way 5 days a week and would be there, for her.  We turned in opposite directions and walked back into our separate lives.  But there, on the corner of 11th and Filbert, outside the Greyhound Bus Station, the two of us had worked a tiny miracle – we gave love and laughter back to her young son.

I never saw them again, this mother and child, but I know that things between them were different after that day.

I always thought that moments like this one hold the power that each of us carries, within.  I know that one word, one touch, one smile can make a change.  Now, someone has written about the power of one adult to hold one child and help them reach for their dream.

I hope you enjoy this post.  And I hope all the people in homes and schools, on street corners or buses, people everywhere understand that words, which we use so easily and hold so cheaply, can keep a child’s dream alive just as easily as they can kill it.

Think…before you speak, please. Speak when your words can help a child.

The Creative Adult is the Child Who Has Survived | LinkedIn.

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On the Path To Self Knowledge with Oprah & Deepak Chopra

In Oprah’s 21 day Desire & Destiny meditation series Oprah and Deepak ask us to answer three, simple questions:

Who am I?

What do I want?

How can I serve?

Small, aren’t they?  But I think they are the toughest questions you can ask and answer.

Each question is part of one week’s exploration.  Each builds on the other and helps you to slowly but surely understand who you really are without all the noise that people, life and even you, yourself, have heaped on the small, brave spark that waits for each of us to listen, again.

As I wrote in my previous blog post, one of the biggest things I have learned about myself is that what I really want (Day 8) is to live from my heart in peace and joy.  Today, I learned something I knew, we all know really,  but tend to forget.

In this whole world, teeming with billions of people, there is only one you.

Read that again.  There is only one you, one me, one unique person.  And if we dare to follow our path up the mountain, if we follow our bliss, each of us has within us the power  to change the world.

Don’t believe it?  Nelson Mandela changed the world — from a prison cell where he lived for 27 years, this one beautiful soul reached out and broke the back of apartheid.

How about Geoffrey Canada?  His Harlem Children’s Zone rescued thousands of children and families, rebuilt a neighborhood and reformed education forever in Harlem, New York.

What about Shirley Chisholm?  She  became the first African-American woman elected to Congress.  She fought not just for her constituency but for all people in need of a better life and she won.

Take just a moment, today, to ask yourself those three questions then listen, really listen.  The universe will send you the answer and it might surprise you.

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Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion!

I am convinced that my current job at The New Moyer Academy in Wilmington, Delaware is a gift from the Universe.

You see,  in all my other executive positions, Director of Public Relations, Corporate Officer,  Director of Training, not one of these jobs or titles comes close to what I do now.  Sure, I used to be the boss.  I had a job to get done and I learned how to manage teams of Information Technology experts spread across the country, flying from city to city, not seeing my family for months at a time.

I drive to this job every weekday morning.  I sit at one small desk in one small school.   I am the school secretary.

And in my job, at my small desk, I have a chance to make a difference in the lives of children in my school — a school that works with an under served population of children.  A school that has brought me into the lives of these most wonderful, most challenged and most beautiful spirits I have ever spent time with.

Are some of them hard to handle?  Yes.  Are some of them angry? Yes. Are some of them sad, afraid, lonely?  Yes, yes, yes.

But each and everyone of them is special; each is a child with hopes, dreams and desires.  Each of them deserves my respect, my trust and, frankly, my love.

These small ambassadors of life have seen hardships and sorrows most of us will never know.  And they have come through.  They have found a way to patch themselves together, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to come to school against all odds, to come to learn. And I get the chance to reach out and tell them, every day, how special they are, how glad I am to see them, how very much they can do and be.

I have never been a teacher.  I have been taught.  Grade school, middle school, high school, college, and graduate school have exposed me to some wonderful teachers and some lousy teachers.  I wish Rita Pierson had been one of my teachers not because of her subject matter expertise or her curriculum.

Rita Pierson teaches so much more than lessons, words and numbers.  She teaches about the heart, the spirit and the opportunity that every adult in every school, from janitor and secretary to teacher and Principal, has every day to reach out and touch one child’s life.

Listen and learn and maybe take a chance and build some relationships, too.

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion | Video on TED.com.

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Scamming the Unemployed – Really?

It’s not bad enough that millions of qualified men and women in this country can’t get a job.

It’s not bad enough that, in Pennsylvania, you have to hire a lawyer to arm wrestle with the minions at the unemployment office to get back some of that money that we have paid into the fund over all the years we have worked — 50 in my case.

Now, unemployed people who are seriously looking for jobs are being scammed, big time.

My first encounter with a scammer came when I answered a Craigslist ad for an Administrative Assistant at a busy doctor’s office.  Imagine my surprise when I received an email from someone named David Marks that said, “Your resume was received and it has been reviewed, I did appreciate it. So I will give this a GO.”

But…he needed a bit more information like my first, middle and last names, my street address including city, state and zip, my cell and home phone numbers, my current occupation and my email address.

Hmmmm….if he had really reviewed my resume, wouldn’t he already know all of this information?  First hint that something was just not right.

Then Mr. Marks described how this would work:

  1. He wasn’t in town often so we would only communicate via email.
  2. He didn’t really have an office so I would be  working from home.
  3. He would pay me $785 a week for a part time job.
  4. Work would include doing personal chores, scheduling flights and making, “…regular contacts and drop offs on my behalf.”

Sounds just a bit off – $785 a week for a part time job working for a man I will never meet and making contacts and dropping off…what…on his behalf.  Second hint that this was not a kosher offer.

The final hint that Mr. Marks was a rat-scammer was this incredibly transparent paragraph:

“What i would want you to do for me this week is to run some errands out to some of the orphanage home, I do that every month. A payment in form of a Cashier Check/Money Order will be sent over to you from one of my clients and i have some lists to email you once you received the funds,You will make some arrangements by buying some stuff for the kids in the Orphanage at any nearest store around you so you can mail them out.”

Really?  I don’t know you, have never met you, work out of my home because you don’t have an office and I’m supposed to …run money for you?  Of course, throwing in the orphanage was a nice touch but hello…Mr. Marks…I may want a job but I am not really desperate or stupid.

Today, a more sophisticated scammer than Mr. Marks (hard to imagine, isn’t it?) sent me an email from an Human Resources department for a company that does exist – LDR Distributions – saying they had , “…reviewed your resume and you’re a great match for this position.”  I was to go online and make a formal application.

Great, exciting but…one immediate problem.  When I tried to apply using the link in the email, I kept getting a pop up asking me to fill in an “anti-spam” survey and offering me a chance at gift cards ranging from $100 from the Cheesecake Factory to $1000 from Kohls.  The hair on the back of my neck started rising.

The other problem with this fairly professional attempt to skim my personal information is the type of business LDR is.  This company is a warehouse and distribution company.  I am a 64 year old woman recovering from shoulder surgery.  Would I really apply for a job with them?  Not!  And, because I keep a copy of every ad I answer along with my submission, I was able to prove to myself that I had not fallen, hit my head and applied for the privilege of packing, toting and shipping large packages.

Tips for would be job seekers:

  1. If it sounds too good to be true, it is!  Like getting a part time gig that lets me work from home and get paid $785 a week.
  2. DO NOT include any contact information at all when responding to a blind ad on Craigslist or any other job board unless you know for sure they are a legitimate business engaged in matching employees and employers like Monster or Career Builder.
  3. GOOGLE names, businesses, even job titles and include the word “scam” in the search.  You will quickly discover you are not alone.  There are a lot of people being scammed by some truly low people out there trying to make money off our misfortune.

And keep the faith.  Somewhere out there, there is a job for each and every one of us that truly wants to work.

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