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What environment best nurtures potatoes?  Specifically this potato.  What does Spudsie need to grow, develop, stretch and be the best potato she can be?

(There’s probably some deep psychological reason I frequently talk about myself in a potato-sense rather than as {insert my real name here}.  Whatever.  It suits my needs at the moment.  It sets me apart from the vast majority of the blog-o-sphere—seriously, who else refers to themselves as a potato???  And it’s a lot of fun!!  It helps me stay light-hearted.  So I’m sticking with it.  J) 

As I’ve been thinking about a general direction for me life, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about what I want.

All too often (or is that an over-used, trite phrase according to James Kilpatrick?), I find myself thinking about what I don’t want.  I don’t want conflict.  I don’t want to have to wear a suit.  (Ever seen a potato in a suit??  Yeah…go ahead and try to Google that.  I’ll wait……)  I don’t want to take time away from Mr. Spuds.  Etc.

Whenever I’ve found myself thinking those things I’ve tried to stop and turn them around.  Yeah….enough about what I don’t want.  What is it that I do want?  Rephrase it as a positive thing.  I want a peaceful working environment.  I want a casual dress atmosphere.  I want to be able to leave work at the office. 

I’ve talked/written about this a little before in previous posts.  As I’ve continued to think about it I’ve come up with more.  Here are some random thoughts in no particular order.  Over the past couple of weeks they’ve come into a pretty clear focus.

·         I want to be surrounded with people who value integrity.  Who have integrity as a core value.  People I can trust.

·         I want to work with people who truly value diversity.  Cultural, religious, political, social-economic, gender, race, creed, and all the others I’ve momentarily forgotten.  People who want to hear viewpoints other than their own.  An atmosphere where people learn from each other.  Where you are allowed to hold views different from others.  Where you aren’t berated, ridiculed and mocked for your beliefs…..whoops!  There I go again with the negative.  Ahem.  A place where diversity of all types is valued.

·         I want to be respected for who I am and what I can do.  I want to feel that respect daily.  I want to hear it in the way I’m talked to and with.  I want to sense it in the way I’m talked about to others.  I want to know it because my opinion is sought out on matters I may have knowledge about or that may impact me. 

·         I want to feel my value to a company, to people in more than simply monetary ways.  Don’t get me wrong—money is nice!!  I like money!  J  (As do all of the shoe stores I frequent.  And amazon.com.)  If there’s a discrepancy between my value in the form of a paycheck and my value in the form of feedback, praise, and general interactions with TPTB I want my paycheck to be on the short end.  (Less money, more non-monetary currency.)  I want the Todd Fitz exclamation-point currency.   (Mr. Spuds will understand what that means!)

·         I want to spend my time someplace where I can be myself.  (See diversity above.) 

·         I want to work where my integrity is not questioned.  Where I am trusted.  Where it is assumed my intentions are good and honest.  “Hey Spudsie I noticed you did X.  That seems really out of character for you.  Can you tell me what happened?”

·         I want to work someplace that challenges me.  That keeps me on my toes.  That keeps me learning and wanting to learn more.

Casual dress. Work hours.  Commute time.  Power.  Corporate vs. small business.  For profit vs. not-for-profit.  Public vs. private.  None of those things matter nearly as much as the things I just listed.  At the right place, with the right work, in the right atmosphere—the rest of it is negotiable.  Casual dress is cool.  And so are business suits with an awesome pair of pumps!  Work hours?  If I’m totally engrossed in and energized by what I’m doing or who I’m doing it for, I might not even notice the hours.  It’s not the typical “check-list” type items I’m craving.  It’s the more intangible stuff.

They are the things I want.  The things I crave.  The things I deserve.  The things I think will help me grow.

 Growing Potato

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Forgiveness

This post will probably end up being part rant, part vent, part self-administered therapy, and part question.  Confusing enough for ya?  LOL!

I had something happen today that is causing me to think about forgiveness.  What it means.  What it looks like in practice.  Is it ever complete?  If you change the way you act towards/think about/or feel about a person have you really forgiven them?

Without getting into too much detail (odd for me, I know!), someone I know broke their commitment to me today.  It’s going to cost me.  Literally.  Cost me $$$$.  $1,000 I wasn’t expecting to spend.  And an ongoing expense I hadn’t anticipated incurring until later.

And I’m angry.  I’m frustrated with and disappointed at the person who chose not to honor their word.

I’m not naïve.  I know these are incredibly difficult financial times for everyone.  I really do.  And knowing we are in difficult times I asked this person (let’s call them Q) back in January if we needed to make any changes. 

“Nope,” said Q.  “No changes are needed.  No problems.”

“Cool,” said the Spudster.

Flash forward to today.  “Spuds I need you to pick up that expense beginning back in January,” said the Q.

?!?!?!?!?!?

Since I’m electing to leave most of the detail out on this post I don’t know how much sense this will make.  From my perspective I had asked if we needed to make any changes to the arrangement and they said we didn’t.  It would be one thing to say “Hey, going forward we need to re-work this.”  But to flat out say, “Pay me back for everything back to January 1” when I had already asked about it makes me want to ask them what the hell they are thinking.

Like I said.  I’m angry.  And frustrated.  And disappointed.

And at the same time I’m not altogether surprised.

This person has a history of not keeping their word.  Of lying when it would be just as easy to tell the truth—or to say nothing at all.  (You know….the type of person who will, without you even asking, show you their new designer handbag and tell you how they only paid $85.  And then the receipt falls on the floor and you see they actually paid $1,000.  That type of thing) 

They’ve lied to me in the past.  They’ve broken promises.  Broken commitments.  “Forgotten” commitments.  You name it, they’ve done it.  Not all of the time.  Not every time.  Just often enough that it could probably be classified mathematically as a pattern.

So Mr. Spuds and I had actually put money aside for this expense.  Assuming we’d eventually end up forking over the cash, but hoping against hope we wouldn’t have to.

So it’s not the money that has me angry.  That part only annoys me a little.  I find myself pretty happy that we thought far enough ahead to set it aside.  (Sometimes being a capital J pays off—literally!  ;-))

I’m not angry about the money.  I’m angry that once again this person has put their own self interests in front of mine and gone back on their word.  Has broken a commitment.  With no remorse and no regret.  And no visible consequences.

(And before you ask, no—this isn’t a friend.  It isn’t an acquaintance that I can avoid in the future.  It’s someone who, for the moment, cannot be avoided.  Long story.)

Integrity is important to me.  It’s one of my core values.  It’s one of my top core values.  (Hey Jim- is there such a thing as a low-ranking core value???  LOL!)  And I try to surround myself with people of integrity.  Even if you are an obnoxious boorish oaf, if you have integrity I’m a lot more likely to spend time with you than if you are a surface-level gentlemen with no integrity.  (Please note the deliberate use of “surface level” there.  True gentlemen have integrity IMHO.)  Integrity is important to me.  And that’s a big part of the reason I’m angry with Q. 

They broke their commitment to me.  They deliberately chose to do so.  I’m in a position to see other choices they make with their money.  (Again, I don’t want to give details.  And because of that it will be easy for you reading this to say, “Spudsie you can’t possibly know where the money is coming from.”  Please take me at my word on this.  I see very clearly other choices they make with their money.)  It is very easy to see they simply decided they would not keep their word.  And knew I was in no position to “fight” them on it. 

I’d probably be a lot less angry if they said, “Hey Spudsie, I know I said I would do this.  But I can’t.  I need you to pay for it.”  Or even, “Hey Spuds you are in no position to argue.  So I’m sticking you with this expense.”  At least that would be honest!  J

Okay.  Working through the anger.  Feel it.  Let it flow through me.  Out my fingertips.  Moving on.

Frustration and disappointment.  There they are.  Ah yes.  Less intense than the anger.  Still pretty durned negative.  Flowing through.  Out the fingertips.  Wait!  Come back!  I want to hang on to y’all and nurse you some more.  Kidding!!  Just kidding!!  Frustration and disappointment moving along.  Out of my system. 

I feel a calm front moving in.  J 

So what does all of this have to do with forgiveness?  I’m so glad you asked.

Q has done this type of thing to me before.  I’ve lived it a number of times in the past decade or so.  Q says things and I’ve learned that I cannot depend on them to follow through—or even remember they have said them.  (Or if they remember, they don’t act like they remember them.)  They turn things back on me.  I must be remembering wrong.  (HA! Said in my best Chris Matthews voice.  Fat chance of that!  Mr. Spuds says I have the memory of an elephant.  LOL!)  It must be my fault somehow.

And for a while I believed that.  I probably did remember wrong.  I’m sure it was my fault somehow.  Over the years I’ve learned that’s just not true.  Q is lying.  Plain and simple.  Lying.  There’s really no way to sugar coat it or call it something nicer.  (Unless you consider “prevaricating” nicer.  Grin!) 

So I’ve learned my lesson with Q.  I cannot depend on Q to keep their word.  I have to trust that I’ll be able to come up with a good Plan B when they decide to change their mind and blame me for it.  So if it involves money I’ve learned to either not count on it, or to set extra aside. 

I’ve also learned over the years that forgiveness means letting go of what you think someone owes you.  (An oversimplification, but it works for the purpose of this rambling.)  Letting go of your right to seek retribution.  Or vengeance.  Or money.  Or whatever.  Just letting it go.  It doesn’t mean what the other person did was okay, or right, or acceptable.  It simply means you let go of needing to get something from them so you can devote that time, energy and emotion to more positive helpful things.

So I’ve forgiven Q.  Q does not owe me anything.  I’m not seeking anything from Q.

And at the same time I treat them differently.  I act differently around them.  I’m still me.  I just don’t believe them.  I have no confidence in what they tell me.  I file it away as something that might happen, but just as easily might not.  Based on past experiences I’ve learned to question most things they tell me.  I take them all with a grain or eight of salt.

How can I have forgiven them if I feel this way?  Based on past experiences I’d be foolish to blindly trust them.  I feel like it’s not quite “real” forgiveness if I act differently.  If I expect them to lie to me.  If I don’t believe them.  Q doesn’t owe me anything.  I’m not after anything.  I simply don’t trust them.

And part of me feels like that’s a reasonable response.  That I’m protecting myself.  And the other part of me feels selfish and judgmental—and not in a healthy way.  I keep checking my motives in hesitating to believe Q.  Is the problem with me?  Have I not truly forgiven Q?

No answers here.  Just questions. 

Back to the beginning for the potato.

In the two weeks after my last blog entry I found myself still locked in flight mode when trying to think about possibilities for the future.

I thought I had made a pretty good start with answering “How do I want to feel?”  Yet it didn’t really go anywhere after that.  I kept looking at my questions, thinking about them when they weren’t physically in front of me, and hitting a wall.

Coach Jim has helped me form the habit of trying to think of things as hitting a speed bump instead of hitting a wall.  It’s a really helpful visual!  Much more positive and manageable than a wall.  At least with speed bumps you know if you back up far enough and get enough momentum behind you you’ll be able to move forward over them.  With walls?  Not so much.

I kept trying to think of the screeching halt of forward movement as a speed bump.  I really did!  I gotta confess…..if it was a speed bump it was the world’s largest one.  Grin!  I couldn’t get over it.  I couldn’t find a way around it.  I couldn’t even see over it.  Very frustrating.

And I was NOT looking forward to the next conversation with Jim.  The ONE thing I want to be working on, the ONE thing I’m trying to focus on, the ONE thing I keep coming back to…..it keeps shoving me back.  I end up shutting down.  Getting stuck.  Not being able to pull back and see the picture from a different perspective.

So while I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation because I really, REALLY don’t enjoy admitting I haven’t been able to do something that on the surface seems to be really, REALLY simple…..at the same time I found myself really, REALLY looking forward to the conversation because I knew Jim would be able to help guide me through it.

I’d sent him an agenda prior to our conversation with three different items on it.  One of them was “general life direction.”  Jim asked, “So Spudsie, what topic do you want to start with today?”

“Well Jim, the one I don’t want to talk about is the one I think we should start with.  General life direction.  I keep hitting a wall.”

Am I the only one who does this?  I would rather have talked about ANYTHING other than my struggles (and self assessed failures) at thinking about my future.  Weather.  Sports.  Gardening.  Reading.  (Okay….that’s not a fair one.  I’d rather talk about books and reading with anyone anytime! LOL!) Even recipes for green bean casserole would have been preferable!  Yet “general life direction” is the topic I chose to talk about.  I figured if I was fighting it so much it was probably the one thing I needed to talk about.  (And really….who wants to exchange green bean casserole recipes anyway?!)

I told Jim I was stuck.  And he asked me a few questions to try and figure out exactly what I meant by “stuck.”  And he tried a different approach for getting me to talk about my thoughts for the future. 

WHAM!

No, not the 1980’s music group.  (Wake me up before you go-go…..opps….sorry…I distracted myself!)

That was the sound of a potato hitting a wall.  So maybe it was more of a SQUISH than a WHAM?

Okay.  Jim’s done this before.  He tried another approach.  Okay.  This one seems to be working better.

SQUISH!

Hmmmmm.  Okay.  We got a little further with that one.  How about…..

SQUISH!  SQUISH!

Wow!  Who knew potatoes could bounce when they hit a wall????  That was impressive Spudsie!

(GRIN!)

Yeah.  Several different approaches.  Same results.  Shut down of any flow.  Of any momentum.

So Jim took a step back.  And asked more questions.  Hmmmm…..Spudsie doesn’t typically have problems talking about the past, so let’s ask her a history question about this topic.

“What’s the first time you remember having this reaction to thinking about the future?”

A-ha!  (Hey!  Another 1980’s music group!  It must be a theme tonight…)  This question I have an answer to .  My paperweight story!  I turned into a puddle of crying, starchy goop whenever I looked at my “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” paperweight.  That’s when I knew I needed help.

So we talked about that for a little while.  And then Jim asked, “So have you ever tried writing an answer to that question?”

Silence.

Ummmmmmmm.  Gee.  Now I feel silly!  No I haven’t .  Sheesh…why didn’t I think of that?!  Writing has been the one place I seem to find answers while working with Jim.  (Well…..besides in the actual conversations of course!)  I start to write something and some odd neural connections start connecting in different and new ways.  Things aren’t as overwhelming.  They aren’t as scary.  They aren’t as difficult when I write about them.

And the paperweight question was the start of all of that.  And since it doesn’t scare me anymore, why not try to write out an answer?!  Jim!  You’re a genius!!  (That’s said in all seriousness by the way.)

So here’s an attempt to start to answer that question.

“What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?”

Number one.  Write a story/book.  Fiction.  I even know the general time period and a general theme-ish type thing I’m drawn to.  World War II and just after WWII era Germany.  Somehow tied in to Holocaust survivors. 

I would LOVE to do the research for this.  Research is something that really energizes me.  And there is so much raw emotion surrounding this subject that it helps me realize that emotions are a good thing—not something to be frightened of.  They can be something that strengthens you.  That carry you though the unbelievable horrors of war.   Of life.

A year ago I would NEVER have thought of this.  I scoffed at creativity.  Oh!  Not in other people.  I really admired it (and still do admire it) in others!  It was simply something I thought I didn’t possess.  And while creativity may not be something I feel I possess large quantities of, I definitely see sparks of it in myself.  My brain has had to come up with some really creative ways of dealing with some pretty lousy stuff to get me through to this point.  Now I want to see if I can redirect some of that ability in other directions.

Number two.  I would do something with animals.  Oh heck….who am I kidding?!  If I knew I could not fail I’d do something with birds—specifically penguins.  I’m serious!!  I love those crazy little flightless waterfowl!  When I volunteered as a docent at our local zoo I would watch them for hours at a time.  And at the end of my 3 hour “shift” I’d always have half a dozen stories to share with the zookeepers or with Mr. Spuds.  “Oh!  You wouldn’t believe Watson today!  And Tressel’s still refusing to eat—even when her dad dropped the whole fish right on her feet.  She just ignored it and kept begging for food!”

The more I watch the birds from my bedroom window the more I realize that birds are birds are birds.  The sparrows do so many of the same things the penguins did.  (Well no kidding Spudster!  They are both BIRDS!! J) It’s really cool to watch them and be able to understand why they are doing what they are doing.  Hmmmm…that probably doesn’t make much sense.  You’ll just have to trust me!

I know this one isn’t really specific.  I’m not sure exactly what I would do—I just know I’d find SOMETHING (other than being a zookeeper) penguin related.  Maybe lead tours to take other “penguin freaks” like me to visit them in their natural environments?  That’d be super cool!

Number three.  I would eat, drink and sleep books.  Again, I’m serious.  I love to read.  Love, love, love, LOVE IT!!!  What I’m missing now is someone to share that with.  Mr. Spuds is allergic to books.  Or at least that’s what he claims!  😉  He will read one or two books if he’s having a really good year.  Me?  I’ll read one or two a weekend! 

I’ve found a couple of outlets for my “You will not BELIEVE how amazing this book is!” thoughts.  But it’s not enough.  I haven’t found anyone locally who wants to read some of the same books at the same time and talk about them.  Sigh.  It’s frustrating to have all of these thoughts in my head and no “easy” way to see if anyone else agrees. 

So maybe I could start writing more “formal” reviews.  (As if any writing I do is “formal”!  LOL)  Or start trying to find a book club, or form a book club, or I dunno…..just do something to get more conversations going about books.  Goodreads is awesome!  And The Next Best Book Club within Goodreads is an awesome group for sharing book thoughts!  I still find myself struggling to communicate all of the thoughts I have about a book in a few paragraphs.  I find myself wanting to stop in the middle of a chapter and have a face to face conversation or a phone conversation with someone, ANYONE…….  “Hey in chapter 23 when Tom Builder went into that cathedral for the first time did it make you think of…..”  (Ahem.  Jim… just in case you missed that, it was a reference to “Pillars of the Earth.”  😉 No pressure or anything!)

Where was I?  Oh yeah…giving my coach grief because he hasn’t read “Pillars” yet.

What?  That’s not what I was talking about?  Are you sure???  J

Anyway, I’d do something talking about amazing books.  And amazing authors.  And discovering new ones.  And the classics.

Number four.  God.  I’d devote my life to God……………… and become a nun.  Although since I’m not Catholic that’s probably going to be a problem.

Okay.  The nun part won’t work obviously.  But whatever I do with my life it has to be something that can help bring glory to God.  To help me share with people how amazing God is and all of the amazing things he’s done in my life.  And is doing in my life.

I suppose this really should be number one…but I’m writing stream-of-conscious-ly and not in order of importance.  God’s definitely got to be an integral part of whatever I do.  And whatever I do needs to help bring me closer to him—to help me learn more about him.

So number four doesn’t really answer the paperweight question.  And that’s okay.  Because whatever answer I give God will be at the center of it.

Number five.  Food and traveling.  I’d do something involving eating food and traveling.

I could be the female version of Anthony Bourdain!  Without the past heroin habit.  Or the cooking skills.  Or the running-your-own-business skills.  Or the publishing connections.

Sigh.  Okay.  So I’m probably not gonna be the next Tony Bourdain am I?  LOL!  J

He does inspire me though.  I love that the voice in his books is the same as his voice in the TV show “No Reservations.”  When I read his books I can hear him talking.  I love that!  I’m not reading a lecture, I’m reading a conversation.  Even Mr. Spuds read a collection of his writings and enjoyed them.  So that’s saying something about his talent as a writer!

If I knew I could not fail (or go broke trying!) I’d develop my palate.  I’d learn to distinguish more flavors.  I’d be the judge on “Iron Chef” who articulates exactly why they love the fresh flavor of the mint in the dish rather than the judge who simply exclaims “This is amazing!!!!”  (BTW, thanks for that example Jim.  It’s really stuck with me!)  With each chef-prepared meal I eat I think I learn a little more about flavors and how they work together.  And it’s really fun!!

And traveling to new place is a blast!  Of course by the time Mr. Spuds and I actually visit them they aren’t really “new” to me…..I’ve researched them to bits and typically have a folder full of possible places to visit, to dine, to explore.  (That’s my capital J-ness coming through loud and clear!)

Number six.  Helping people.  Again, that’s not overly specific is it?  There are sooooo many people in the world hurting, searching, looking, in need and in want of help.  I just want to do something to make their lives easier.  To help them find peace.  To find calm.  To find motivation.  To give them hope. 

As much as I love animals (and trust me on this, I LOVE animals) if given the choice of contributing to a charity that helps animals or a charity that helps people—I chose the charity that helps people every time. 

So maybe I could take my administrative/organizational type skills and use them in an environment that helps people.  A non-profit organization with a mission that inspires me. 

The thought of that energizes me less than the other things I’ve written about—yet it would be better than what I’m doing now.  Hmmmmm…..it’s far more practical and far less energizing.

Number seven.  I’d pick winning lottery numbers.

What?????  Oh come on……it answers the question perfectly!  If I knew I could not fail I’d buy lottery tickets with the winning numbers before they were selected.  Wouldn’t you??

Number eight.  I’d talk for a living.  Yeah….I know ……the potato who communicates with her friends through e-mail rather than the phone or in person wants to talk for a living.

Scoff all you want.  I really enjoy talking to groups of people (or individuals) about topics I’m passionate about.  Back to the docent days…..I loved talking to the zoo visitors about the penguins.  It really energized me to give my 30 second “These are Humboldt penguins and here are a few amazing facts you may not know about them” spiel.  And then to talk one on one with guests who had more question?  It totally fired me up!!

Wow.

A year ago I was in a puddle just looking at the question.  What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

And now I have eight (okay…..technically seven since picking lottery numbers doesn’t really count) different answers!  Wow.  Wow.  Really.  WOW!

So now where do I go?

As always……to be continued.  (That one’s for you Bob!)

Questions for the Potato….

I’m playing hooky from work right now.  Shhhhhhh….don’t tell anyone!!  😉

Although…if I stop to think about it…..it’s not really a secret.  After all, work will notice I’m not at work because…..well…because I’m not there.  And I told my team I was leaving after lunch.  So I guess it’s not really a secret or anything…..hmmmmm….. 

Still.  It feels more free-ing to say I’m playing hooky. So let’s just keep this between us, okay?  J

Why am I home from work?  Why did I abandon my co-workers today?  I’m soooo glad you asked.

I had another coaching call with Coach Jim last night.  And (once again) it’s thrown me for a loop.  (You’d think I’d be used to that by now wouldn’t ya?!?  LOL!)  And I wasn’t really focusing on work today while I was at the office.  I wasn’t really being productive at all.  My mind kept wandering.  So I made a deal with myself—focus and be productive until lunch time and then leave and come home and write.

Ta-da!  So here I am.  Grin!

So what’s thrown me for a loop this time?  (Or perhaps I’m simply in a perpetual loop???  Or am I just loopy??  LOL!)

Without saying too much (and Heaven forbid I say “too” much on a fairly anonymous blog!) I’m trying to have conversations with Jim that help me explore what direction I want to take my life.  Or what direction I want my life to take me.  Or “what I want to do when I grow up.” 

That seems simple enough, right?  Nothing too complex.  Yeah…right!! 

I’ve wanted to start this conversation for a year and have intentionally set it aside.  Partially because there was other stuff I wanted to start working on first, and partially because it sends me into a total and complete “flight” mode the minute I start thinking about it.

Sigh.

(Some of you may have heard this story before.  Please bear with me.  I’ll try to keep it short.)

What initially sent me looking for help from Jim was (in part) my reaction to the paperweight on my desk.  (Hey!  I’ve never claimed to be anything close to “normal” so this really shouldn’t surprise anyone too much!  ;-))   The weight bears the question, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

I purchased the weight thinking it would help motivate and encourage me to take a fresh look at what I wanted to do with my life.  Where I wanted to go.  The possibilities that might be right in front of me.  Instead I slumped into a puddle of teary-eyed goop (starchy goop at that!) whenever I stopped to read it and think about it.

I simply had no clue how to answer the question.  Didn’t even know how to start thinking about how to answer the question.  “What would I do?  I have no flippin’ clue!”  I couldn’t come up with a single thing.

While I’m no longer in that emotionally locked place, I still struggle with the concept.  With the question.

(By the way, my non-serious answer to the question now is, “Go to Vegas and play Craps for a living baby!”  LOL!  Hey…at least I can give a non-serious answer.  That’s some type of progress right?  J)

I thought I’d moved along enough to be ready to at least start the conversation.  And now I’m not so sure.  

We’re starting off with the most basic of questions.  Approaching it with no expectations.  No known outcomes.  No “I need to see X,Y and Z or it won’t be right” type of thinking.  Nothing’s off the table.  (Although I’m evidently too old to be Miss America.  Pfffffffffffff!  ;-))   And I’m still tied in knots.

Jim helped me come up with a list of questions to think about.  Or more accurately I came up with 4 questions and Jim supplied the rest.  Sigh.  I struggle to wrap my brain around how to even start any of this!  I have a hard time coming up with questions without feeling a panic-filled need to immediately answer them.  Ugh.

The questions I’m supposed to be pondering are along the lines of:  What do you want to do?  What energizes you?  What skills do you want to use?  What brings you joy?  (Hey!  I have a list of 125 plus things that bring me joy!!)  What kind of people do you want to work with?  Do you want to serve?

Basic questions right?  Nothing too complex.  No wrong answers.  No expectations.  Simply questions.

And still I find myself hyperventilating and feeling sick to my stomach.

Really Spudsie.  This isn’t that difficult.  They are just questions.  It’s not like I’m expected to give answers on par with the Oracle at Delphi.  Come on Spuds.  Relax.

Deep breath.

Another deep breath.

I’m supposed to be brainstorming answers.  And/or additional questions.  Anything and everything that comes to mind.  Toss it all out on the table.

And instead of doing that I find myself curled in a ball underneath my desk, thinking maybe what I’m doing with my life now isn’t so bad after all.  Really.  It’s not bad.  I’ve made it this far right?  I can keep grinding out day after day…hour after hour….literally minute after minute, right? 

Grrrrrrrr.

But that’s not what I want to do.  I want to do something different.  Something more.  Something that brings at least moments of joy and satisfaction and fulfillment into my life—instead of only and always draining them away.

So I need to do this.  I want to do this.  I choose to do this.  I choose to try and think about these questions.

I’m just not sure how.

“What do I want to do?”  Well…gee….if I knew that I wouldn’t be in this complete “flight” mode would I?!  I don’t have a clue!

Okay Spuds.  That’s not overly helpful.  What else do ya have?

“What do I want to do?”  Something that brings at least moments of joy, satisfaction and fulfillment into my life.  There.  Is that better?

Okay.  Better.  What else?

“What do I want to do?”  ANYTHING other than have this conversation!  Sorry.  (Sheepish grin)  I know…that’s not helpful.  Okay. 

(Minutes ticking by…)

“What do I want to do?”  I want to re-phrase the question.  I want to change it up a little.  How about…..

“How do you want to feel?”  Bear with me.  This isn’t a cop-out.  I think I can start here and move forward a little easier.  Maybe.

“How do you want to feel?”  I want to feel excited to start each day.  (Or at least the majority of them!  LOL!)  I want to feel like Jack London, er…Martin Eden in “Martin Eden” by Jack London.  Martin begrudged his body every hour of sleep he had to “give in” to.  Martin wanted to live every moment, every instant, every second to its fullest.  Sleep deprived him of activity, of action of movement, of progress, of experiences.  He wanted all of it to the fullest and resented the time he had to give up for his body to recharge.

Yeah….that’s what I want!  I want to run at the start of each day on the balls of my feet…not wanting to lose a second!  (Which is far different from the counting of seconds left until I can leave that I find myself doing now.)

When Mr. Spuds asks me, “So Spudsie how was your day?” I want to have excitement in my voice when I say, “Oh!  You wouldn’t believe what happened today!”  Even if it’s just telling him stories of the hours I spent on cleaning the shower floor and how sparkling white it now is, I want to have that energy because what I’m doing is fulfilling, is uplifting, is overall worth it!

So, “how do I want to feel?”  I want to feel energized and excited, looking at every day as a series of amazing opportunities and adventures.  (Again, even if those “adventures” are as simple as cleaning!) 

Okay.  That’s pretty cool.  At least I have some idea of how I want to feel. 

Now I suppose I need to turn my attention to what energizes me. 

Hmmmm…….I’m beginning to think this is gonna take awhile…..stay tuned.

To be continued.

J

Blinding Tears of Fear

Last week I cried.

That in itself isn’t all that unusual.  But what I did while crying was unusual for me.

Last Monday evening I had a coaching call with Coach Jim.  I’ve written about it once already here.  And in the middle of the “should” conversation I was crying.  Not a delicate, sniffle, sniffle, blink away the tears kind of crying.  Oh no.  It was the “wipe my nose on my sleeve because there isn’t enough time to get to a Kleenex box-and even if there were time I don’t have the energy to spare from my weeping to reach the box” type of crying.  (How’s that for a description of something you’d rather not have a mental image of?!?  ;-))

Crying while on the phone with Jim is nothing new.  He frequently gets me to stretch emotionally pretty far beyond where I’m comfortable—and that’s a great thing!  A great thing that makes me cry typically.  So while crying on the phone with Jim is nothing new, this one has stuck with me.   It was a pretty major fear I was facing that made me cry.

For “brevity’s” sake I’m not going to re-hash the entire conversation.  (Please…hold your applause.  J) Basically Jim was trying to help me see something about myself.  And the words he used screamed in my brain, “This is a bad thing!  This is not how a good potato carries herself.  Acting like this is wrong!”

Now Jim wasn’t saying anything judgmentally, I simply was hearing it judgmentally.  He was asking the question, “How would these conversations go if you didn’t think people should respond in a certain way?”  (Whoops!  There I go again….re-hashing the conversation….)   He wanted me to consider how much more relaxed and at ease I could be in the conversation if I let go of my expectations.

My brain translated his words into, “Think of how much better things could be if you didn’t demand that every single person you came in contact with was required to react in the exact manner you tell them to.  You are clearly trying to control people and situations where you have no control.  You are going into these conversations with the mindset of a self-centered brat.  You are making the conversation all about you.  And isn’t that what you always do?  Don’t you always put yourself in the center?  You never think of anyone other than yourself!”

Again, allow me to repeat myself.  Jim wasn’t saying ANYTHING judgmentally.  And he certainly wasn’t saying anything that I wrote in that last paragraph.  He was simply trying to open my mind to what possibilities might open up if I approached some conversations with a different mindset.  And my brain twisted that into the “….you selfish brat…” words.  Ugh.  No wonder I cried!

Actually, my brain’s translation wasn’t what caused the tears.  It was my reaction to them and how I acted on that reaction.  (Bear with me….I’m not sure this makes sense even to me right now…)

I spent twenty or so years being told by a parent how I wasn’t good enough.  How everything I did, said or thought was a failure.  And how I didn’t ever think of anyone besides myself.   And in those twenty years I learned to file those statements away as truth.  It was just who I was.  It was how I was.  And it was bad.  I was bad.  I didn’t argue—it would have been pointless.  I didn’t yell back.  I didn’t defend myself.  I simply accepted it.

As I’ve grown older I’ve been able to see those statements are not entirely true.  I’ve been able to pull slightly away from them. 

At the same time when a person in any type of authority role in my life (boss, preacher, teacher, etc.) has said anything similar I continued to accept it without argument.  Even if my brain argued, my lips were silent.  It just wasn’t worth arguing about.  It wasn’t worth defending myself.  (Maybe I wasn’t worth defending??)

And two surprising things happened when I “heard” Jim saying those same things.  (Again, keep in mind Jim didn’t actually say them….my brain mis-translated them.)

First of all, my mind blew a whistle, threw down the yellow flag, yelled “foul!”  My mind said….  “Nope.  That’s not true.  I was there for the conversations and I was not demanding that people responded in a certain way.  I had hoped they would, but I wasn’t going in arms-crossed, eyebrow cocked, arrogantly demanding special treatment.  You’re off base Jim.  I’m not the type of person you are saying I am.” 

There are often times Jim will say something about a reaction I have, something I say or something I do that I initially disagree with.  So I’ve learned to bite down my initial reaction of “Buzz!  Wrong answer Jim!” and try to really listen to what he’s saying.  Try to really see what he’s seeing.  After all, I’m working with him because I haven’t had much success fixing things on my own.  Fighting with him really isn’t going to be very helpful in learning to make different choices!

So while trying to continue the verbal conversation with Jim I was having a different conversation in my mind.  “Jim’s wrong.”  “Maybe not.  Just listen to him and think about it.”  “Nope.  He’s wrong.”  “Spudsie give it some time.  He’s telling you what he sees.”  “Okay. ……nope.  Still wrong.”  And that was surprising.  That I could say with some conviction (if only in my own mind) “I’m not bad.”

At this point neither the verbal conversation nor the mental conversation was making much progress.  For once the “I don’t agree with what I think Jim’s saying about me or my character” was getting louder instead of settling down.  I tried setting it aside and moving on with the verbal conversation with Jim, but I found I couldn’t. 

And that’s when the more surprising thing happened.  (Please note, there were no tears yet at this point.)  I actually spoke up.  I said, “Jim, I don’t think I agree with that.”

Now I’ve said those words before.  And typically come around to seeing things from Jim’s point of view.  But this was different.  This was scary.

This was a conversation with someone I hold in high regard.  And I thought he had just said to me, “You are totally self-centered and don’t care about anyone else!  You think the world revolves around you and need to just get over yourself!  You are just horrible.” 

And I disagreed with him.

And I spoke up.  I “defended” myself.  If you can call squeaking out between sobs, “I don’t think that’s what I did Jim” defending myself.  LOL! 

I gathered all of the potato courage I’d hidden in my little toes for years (betcha ya didn’t know potatoes had toes!) and said, “No.  That’s not me.  I’m not bad.  Don’t say those things about me.  Please don’t think them because they aren’t true.”   Well….I didn’t use those words….but that’s metaphorically what I was saying.

All sorts of fears had sprung to the surface.  “No.  Please no.  I can’t believe he just said that.  Of all people, not Jim.  Dear God in Heaven please don’t let him think that.  If Jim thinks that about me it must be true.  No.  Please no.  How can Jim possibly think I’m waltzing through life not giving a rat’s behind about anyone other than myself?  If that’s true, that makes every other bad thing ever said to me true.  I’m not worth anything.”

(Yeah……I go from neutral to out-of-control-self-doubt-and-fear in about.00000001 seconds.  Sigh.  It’s one of the things I’m working on.)

And in the middle of this HUGE mass of fear there was a little voice that said, “Hey Spuds.  You know that’s not true.  You know you’re worth something.  This is Jim.  You know Jim.  Jim is Jim—he’s not anyone else.  Jim is safe.  Talk to him.  Say something.  Disagree with him.  It’s okay.  This is a safe place.  Be open.”

And I spoke up.  Through almost blinding tears of fear, I squeaked out a few words.  And then a few more.  And then a few more.  All the while scared (nearly out of my wits) that Jim would say, “Sorry Spudsie.  You’re just not good enough.”  Fighting against the part of my mind that was yelling, “Quit talking!  Just accept he thinks you’re a selfish brat and move on.  Don’t disagree, it will just make things worse!  You’ll just get more heaped on you!  Quit!  QUIT!!!  You’re going to make it worse!”

And, of course, in the end talking did NOT make it worse.  It made it better!  (Who knew?!  LOL! J) 

So kudos to me for speaking (or was that squeaking? LOL) up.  Kudos to Spudsie for fighting through the fear.  That’s yet another step towards authentically being me.  Yay!

Man.  I hope it gets easier to do this in the future.  ‘Cause I barely got through it this time. 

Joy Journal

On a previous episode of “A Spud’s Journey to Happiness”…….a Joy Journal was mentioned.  (To be read in your best TV announcer voice…..)  In today’s episode we explore said journal….

🙂

Did anyone else grow up with this Vacation Bible School song?

“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.

Where?

Down in my heart.

Where?

Down in my heart.

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.  Down in my heart to stay.”

And it goes on from there…..

Anyway…I thought I’d post a slightly edited version of my joy journal/joy list here for y’all to see. 

Why?

Well…. because I’m highly self centered and assume y’all are dying of curiosity.

Snort!  Just kidding!  😉

I was talking with a friend about Jim’s challenge to create a joy list and his nudge to get me to committ to a specific number of items I’d put on the list.  When I told my friend (we’ll call her Rachel) I’d said I would committ to 100 items she gasped!

“I was thinking about something closer to seven!” exclaimed Rachel.

“Rachel, we’ve GOT to talk!”  said this potato.

When I started talking to Rachel about what I had on my list she realized she had a whole lot more than seven items she could put on her own joy list.  So somehow sharing my joy list helped her expand her own.

And my hope for posting mine here (other than having a permanent record that won’t be lost when my laptop crashes), is that it might help y’all add to your personal joy list.  Or remember things you’d forgotten about that brought (and bring) you moments of joy.

Enjoy!  🙂

1.      Lola’s!!!

2.      Michael Mina dinner (1st time)

3.      Strip Steak bar food

4.      Restaurant Charlie’s

5.      Cheap pizza & breadstick @ food court (and conversation)

6.      Bouchon

7.      Foie Gras @ Fleur de Lys

8.      Wine flight at NC

9.      Hiking in NC

10.  Monte Cristo lunch & mountain top views NC

11.  Waterfalls in NC

12.  Solo Maine trip/visit

13.  Light house tour in Maine

14.  Lobster on the Maine beach w/Maine friends

15.  Maine with Mr. Spuds

16.  Bar Harbor w/Maine friends—Sunrise at Cadillac Mt.

17.  Ocean hike w/Mr. Spuds (ME)

18.  Popovers & lobster bisque lunch (ME)

19.  Walking across the bar (ME)

20.  Misty lake hike

21.  Singing on the granite cliffs (ME)

22.  Sea gull eating sea urchin next to a puddle (ME)

23.  Duck from NC (quacking in the parking lot)

24.  Working out w/Ellen

25.  Rosendales!!

26.  Spinel @ Bill’s (first purchase)

27.  “Firework” spinel ring

28.  Finally owning the tanzanite

29.  Talking w/Bill & Annabelle

30.  Free trip to Disney J

31.  Lunch at Canada restaurant at EPCOT

32.  Niagara on the Lake (all visits)

33.  Feeding blue jays

34.  HR4US

35.  St. Louis US trip

36.  Chihuly @ St. Louis gardens

37.  Docent-ing @ Columbus Zoo

38.  Penguins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

39.  St. Louis Zoo (behind the scenes, penguin keepers)

40.  Cincinnati Zoo  (Little Blues)

41.  Newport Aquarium (behind the scenes, penguin keeper)

42.  Baltimore- National Aquarium

43.  Cleveland & Akron zoo tour trip  J

44.  Tiffany, Lalique, etc. exhibit

45.  NOLA w/ US

46.  Vendor “whoring” (Don’t ask!!  LOL!)

47.  Dinner @NOLA Emeril’s restaurant (w/Julia, Roz, etc.)

48.  San Diego SHRM trip

49.  Dinner in San Diego w/Nancy

50.  Solo travels (NOLA, San Diego, Maine, Nashville, Chicago, Pittsburgh)

51.  LCC

52.  Worship w/Kevin King

53.  Worship nights at DCC

54.  Woodmont Hills church

55.  Mr. Spuds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

56.  The Doctor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

57.  Moments of feeling grace

58.  Moments when things (God) “click”

59.  Conversations w/God

60.  Feeling safe, feeling peace

61.  Snow crystals in the air

62.  Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens (just checking!)

63.  Theater!  (Sound of Music- R. Chamberlin)

64.  Phantom

65.  12 Angry Men (R. Thomas, G. Wendt)

66.  Big River (sign language version)

67.  Books……Amazon……Kindle

68.  Life of Pi

69.  Good Reads

70.  Conversations w/Ken regarding books

71.  Unexpected encouragement/positive feedback

72.  Sherlock Holmes

73.  2007 & 2008 SRL

74.  Dr. Who

75.  Wedding & honeymoon & marriage

76.  Finally “getting” algebra (DLU)

77.  Amnesty International (DLU)

78.  Lexus

79.  Sunny & Moe (& Tim’s generosity)

80.  Lunch  (the goldfish)

81.  Bird watching @ home

82.  Bird watching@ the zoo

83.  Polar bear playing @ the zoo

84.  Realizing Clark really did forgive me

85.  Spring—every single year!

86.  Crocus

87.  Gardening

88.  Discovering new plants

89.  Seeing the same plants 1 year later on Paul James’ TV show

90.  Realizing I have a voice

91.  Buying our home

92.  Anonymous giving (giving in general)

93.  Dropping a pant size/losing weight

94.  Mulching!!!

95.  Creating our “found” stone dry creekbed

96.  Hearing what God wants me to hear

97.  Monet paintings in St. Louis…..wow….

98.  Seeing Gus Hansen on my b-day

99.  Being able to help someone

100.  Research

101.    Being recognized (& greeted by name) at Nong’s

102.    Meeting Doris Kerns Goodwin (& being brave)

103.    NOMI dinner w/Kiwi

104.    Meeting Nancy in NOLA

105.    Trip to Indy for pancakes

106.    Trip to Indiana for Steak & Shake w/Mr. Spuds

107.    Safe travels

108.    Watson’s arrival….finally!!!

109.    Meeting Matt & his family

110.    Dayton trip- book signing for Mr. Spuds

111.    Snuggling

112.     ***censored***   J

113.    Writing

114.    Feeding birds- home, Morel’s, Bellagio

115.    Hot tea @ Bellagio poolside on a cool morning & reading

116.    Nature

117.    Learning

118.    Rachel Maddow getting her own show

119.    Zoya’s gift of a necklace

120.    Really great hair cuts

121.    Successful book recommendations to others

122.    Mycroft!

123.    Pure politics/pure government

124.    “a-ha” moments when reading the Bible

125.    Kitty…..even if she did kill a blue jay

What a week!  I seem to be getting “hit” by a number of the out-of-my-control migraine triggers today.  Lousy weather (I’m guessing there was a change in pressure with the storm the came in and iced everything over), hormones jumping all over the place, stress from driving on ice, and lack of sound sleep.  No wonder my head hurts!  I’m hoping to stave off a true migraine and manage the pounding will-someone-please-close-the-curtains-so-there’s-not-so-much-light headache I have right now.

I’m amazed that January is almost over……and I haven’t been doped up on Immitrex at all!  (That’s rare for a January!)  In fact April was the last time I had to take any.  Well……if I’d remembered to pack them in July I would have taken them….but that’s an entirely different story.  Anyway, the multi-day migraines feel like ancient history.  Yay!  The headaches I’m left with are MUCH more manageable—and seem to be decreasing as well.  J  Happy days!  (Adding that to my joy journal!)

This week started with a pretty intense coaching conversation with Coach Jim.  Hmmmm…. “intense” isn’t exactly the word I’m looking for.  More like “oh my word- I want to yell STOP—but don’t want to stop the conversation—but don’t know if I can translate what’s in my gut into words that make sense—and even if they make sense to me will they make sense to Jim—and if they make sense to him will he hear what I’m trying to say instead of the words I use” type of thing.

Is there a single word for that?  (If there is I’ll bet it’s a German word—along the lines of doppelganger or schadenfreude —one “word” composed of several little words to encapsulate an entire concept.  I love German words like that!!)

But I digress.

So.  Tough conversation with Jim.  At least now I know a little better what Peter (of Biblical fame) felt like when he had the “do you love me” conversation with Jesus.  To paraphrase.. Peter’s conversation went something like this,

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Yes I love you!

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Yes, of course I love you!

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Lord, you know I love you!

Now if you’ve never hear the story before that exchange doesn’t make any much sense at all.  I gotta say I agree with you!  In the version of the Bible I grew up reading the word “love” in both Jesus’ and Peter’s quotes was the same.  In the original Greek the word “love” was one word when Jesus used it and a different word when Peter used it.  Jesus was asking if Peter loved him with a total, complete, holding-nothing-back kind of love.  And Peter answered that he loved Jesus with a friendship kind of love.

Well….that’s oversimplifying it.  And to oversimplify it even more….it was like Jesus asking “Peter, do you love me?” and Peter answering, “You know I like you.” 

In the version of the Bible I grew up reading it was a confusing conversation to read.  “What on earth?!  Isn’t Jesus even listening to Peter’s answer?  He said ‘Yes’ so why does Jesus keep asking him the same thing over and over again????  I don’t get it!”

Monday I found myself in the middle of the same type of conversation with Jim.

We were talking about conversations I’d had with people over the past couple of weeks.  I had decided to try and open up about some fairly personal stuff and try to be a more authentic Spudsie.  For whatever reason (and there are a number of them) that doesn’t come easily to me, I have to make an effort.  And it feels as though it’s a fairly risky thing to do.  But if I wanna grow I’ve gotta stretch—despite some discomfort.

The conversations left me somewhat discouraged and I talked to Jim about it.  We talked about what I was hoping for when I started the conversations with other people.  I hoped the people I talked to would listen for understanding—instead of listening to react, or to “solve” my problems.   And since I was talking with people who I trust and truly care about me they (naturally) wanted to offer advice and try to fix what was bugging me.  Which was discouraging to me.

At some point in the conversation Jim asked me, “So what would it feel like if you went into these conversations without the expectation that the person you are talking with should react the way you want them to.”

Ummmm….hold the phone there Jim.  I don’t think I AM going in with the expectation that they SHOULD react in a certain way.  I’m hoping they will.  I’d like for them to.  It would be really, really nice if they did.  But I don’t think they SHOULD.

And that’s the point where the conversation got fuzzy.  LOL!

Jim:  So what would it feel like if you went into these conversations without the expectation that the person you are talking with should react the way you want them to?

Me:  (Really, really long pause)  I don’t have a clue how to answer that.  I don’t think I DO go in thinking they SHOULD react in a specific way.  It would be nice if they did.  If they chose to.  But I don’t assign that “SHOULD” to them.  It’s their choice.

Jim:  You’d like them to listen to understand, correct?

Me:  Yeppers.

Jim:  So what would it be like if you didn’t think they should do that?

Me:  ?!?!  But I don’t think I do think they SHOULD listen for understanding.  I’d like for them to.  I’m not requiring them to.

Jim:  So how would the conversation go differently if you didn’t think they should listen for understanding?

Me:  (tapping the microphone)….hello…..is this thing on??  Jim, I’m trying really hard to listen to what you are saying.  I just don’t think that’s what I’m doing.  Maybe I’m arguing semantics…….I don’t think I hold the belief that someone else SHOULD listen for understanding.  I would like for them to.  It would make the conversation easier for me.  But SHOULDs aren’t something I can put on someone else.  They have to choose how to listen.  I can’t assign a SHOULD to them.  And, truly, not to be argumentative, I don’t feel I go into conversations thinking someone else SHOULD react in a certain way.  It’s totally their choice.  I can’t dictate to them how they SHOULD listen or respond.  I don’t demand that of them.  I don’t start conversations with ‘here’s how you SHOULD treat me’ that sounds totally selfish….”

Jim:  Whoa there potato…..I think you’re right.  It’s semantics.  ‘Should’ is a pretty specific word/has a strong meaning for you.  I think we are saying the same thing—just using different words.  And is it wrong/a bad thing to be selfish?

Me:  Oh yeah, selfish isn’t good.  That’s a problem.  And SHOULD is a really powerful word for me.

And the conversation went on from there.  It probably doesn’t read as confusing as it was in person.  LOL!  And I’m paraphrasing what I remember of it….what I heard….not Jim’s exact words.  So a third party eavesdropping would probably have a completely different understanding of what was said.  Grin!  We worked through it and moved on.  It turns out we were really saying the same thing…..though I don’t know that Jim will ever use the word “should” in a conversation with me without having a flashback!  😉

Oddly enough the thing that has stuck with me about our conversation is the one thing he let go without a comment.  I’m pretty sure he was thinking it…..thinking it loudly enough that I heard it.  (Or maybe I’m reading waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much into nothing…which wouldn’t be a first for me!)  He didn’t say anything about my lightning quick “shelfish is bad” answer.  I think I may have detected the slightest pause while he had the internal debate “do I want to get off subject and talk about this now or just let it go for the moment?” but he didn’t say anything.

And I find myself wondering…..how does Jim define selfish?  Is it different than how I define it?  When he asks, “Is it wrong for Spudsie to be selfish?” does he mean what I hear? 

To me selfish is this.  I do what I want, what I think is good and right for me with NO REGARD for anyone else.  I do what I want regardless of the cost to anyone else.  I do what I want and the rest of the world be damned.  It’s all about me. ME.  ME.  ME.  I don’t care about anyone else but me.  If something I do hurts you—too bad!  Didn’t you hear?  It’s all about me.

And that’s bad.  That’s not good.  That’s…..well…that’s just selfish.  And wrong.

There are a lot of times when I make decisions that are in my own best interest.  There are times when I weigh my options and decide to choose what’s good for me over what might be equally good for someone else.  For example, spending an undisclosed (cough, cough, don’t ask!) amount of money on 3 purses and 2 wallets at the Kate Spade outlet store at Christmas was ALL about me!  Are there other things I could have used the money for?  Yep!  I could have donated it to one of the charities Mr. Spuds and I support.  I could have mailed it to my sister.  I could have spent it on bird food.  I could have donated it in someone’s name to a charity they support.  I could have bought my Happiness coach a Kindle!  (J)  There are a million other things I could have done with the money that would have helped someone else—that would have put their needs/interests in front of my own.  And still I chose to spend it on me! 

To some that may seem selfish.  (Clark Kent-if you are reading I KNOW you are thinking I could have self-lessly spent it on Williams Sonoma stuff for you right?? J LOL!)  To me that wasn’t selfish.  My company did very well in 2008 and gave me a generous year-end bonus.  Mr. Spuds and I sat down and spent time deciding what to give to others, what to save, what to set aside for future unforeseen expenses, and what I could use as “new purse” money.  (Guess which category was my favorite)  It was a deliberate decision—where I weighed what I wanted and what others might need/want.  And I arrived at a balance that was acceptable for me.  I didn’t feel selfish or self centered in that decision.  I felt well balanced.

So the decision to spend the “new purse” money didn’t feel like a selfish one.  It took into account other people.  At the same time it was not a self-less decision.  Clearly I decided my wants ranked higher than the Columbus Zoo’s need for additional money for a Polar Bear exhibit, or for my former church’s need to pay off debt. 

If it wasn’t self-less and wasn’t selfish…..what was it?  How do I define it?

Hmmmmmmm…..I don’t know.  Maybe I need to redefine my words.

Is there a way I can re-define “selfish” to be something different than “it’s all about me I don’t care about you at all”?  Or is there a different word I can use?  Or a different way of looking at the concept?

One of the synonyms for selfish is egocentric—meaning (almost literally) “me at the center.”  And there are times where “me at the center” is how I have to make decisions.  If I made decisions that always had my company at the center I’d never leave the office.  If I made decisions that always have other people at the center I’d never spend the time and effort to work with a Happiness coach to work on growing.  If my decisions NEVER have me at the center I’d say “yes” to everything everyone asked me to do and never have time to keep any of the commitments.

And that’s no way to live.  Yech.  Clearly I need to choose to put myself at the center of some of my decisions—and I do.  So at times I’m egocentric.  So by definition does that mean at times I’m selfish?  Hmmmm….. “selfish” has such strong negative connotations for me I’m not sure I can redefine it that easily.   “Selfish” still feels like “it’s ALL about me all of the time” when in reality it’s only “ALL” about me when I choose to make decisions all about me.  Deliberately.  Intentionally.  With knowledge (and sometimes with a bit of sadness) that I’m giving up some of my ability to meet the desires of another person.

This is tough for me.

Or…………………… maybe instead of trying to redefine “selfish” I could stop reading so much into half-second pauses Jim has in our conversations.  😉  Hmmmmmm……..that might be easier!