Monday, November 18, 2013

Something from Nothing

I started to cry as I watched people pick through trash for pennies a pound. I wondered about a world that regards people who do this as trashy themselves. The 60 Minutes report went on to show how a music teacher created instruments from the trash and formed a makeshift orchestra.

Humans amaze me. It takes little digging to find cruelty and waste, yet among all the flawed brokenness, beauty shines.

I live with a master scrounge. He wont dive into a dumpster, but he's been known to lurk behind stories that put unwanted items near there. He thinks nothing of asking repair crews for left over materials. Our store had an entire light bank scrounged from a store remodel, including lights.

Can you imagine what we can do when we start looking at everything and everyone as valuable?  Imagine a world where many more people had access to the basics of food, shelter and safety? How can we create such a world? How can we employ people in activities that spark their minds and show their skill?

I choose to start with deciding to see value in everyone. I urge you to do the same. Start looking for beauty and value everywhere. I bet you'll find more than you ever expected.

Kind comments welcome.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Workin on the Chain Gang

My perspective may be a lot skewed by being entrepreneurial by nature and having few real world jobs, but I don't get staying miserable at work. Maybe it's the questioning part of me. I see it as a kind of equation.

       work = pay = happy
       work+grief = pay-happy

You spend time doing something for pay. At the end of an agreed upon period of time you get compensation. Though there are lots of kinds of compensations that don't involve money. Prestige, education or even health benefits can all enhance a work experience.

Then there are work stresses that people put up with to gain money. Some of them are emotional, like being a caregiver to the elderly or sick. You risk the sadness at their passing or the stress of their pain. Working as a carpet layer can hurt your knees and logging and mill work can injure or even kill a worker.

Most work that has high hazard gets compensated monetarily at a higher rate, but sometimes that isn't the case. Caregivers might feel a sense of compassion as they help someone reduce their suffering. Then one person's compensation might be another's torture. It really depends on a person's perspective.

My confusion begins when someone complains about their work and I ask what they plan to do about it. They often react like I'm crazy for even thinking that.

One friend recently told me that her boss yells at her. When I tried to find out what was going on, the girl threatened to kill herself. I get that it's very painful to get yelled at and there is way more going on than a lousy boss. Still, that might be a drastic reaction to her pain and stress.

The person involved struggles and I take her pain serious. I know enough about her to stay calm and just remind her of little things to alleviate her suffering. I have tried to get her to find a way to look at the boss as someone who yells at the wind. I asked her to let it brush past her and just go do her work.

I suspect that she, like many people, gets something out of the interaction. Maybe it fits her view of herself. Maybe she believes she deserves to be mistreated and therefore this confirms it. This is what I suspect as she refuses to take ANY step, even in conversation, to change her life.

Something else that I find interesting. I know a guy who works as a security guard who complained about a work site that didn't allow guards to use the fridge. Plus he had some comments about how some areas could be secured better. His supervisor told him that they didn't want his input.

He doesn't want to be doing security in the first place and keeps going on interviews for different kinds of jobs. I just wish that he could find some okayness and not stress over the job he has now.

He also complains about other guards not doing enough. I really wonder why people do that? Constantly compare themselves to their coworkers in an effort to one up or one down themselves. How does that help your own life? I have never heard anyone that complained about a coworker benefit from that complaint. Even when they weren't doing their job.

Suggesting an improvement that has clear benefits to the company may change things. Feel free to make a proposal that saves time, money, energy and improves safety. Also, making an employer aware of unsafe practices and refusing to DO unsafe practices should be the only time to take a real stand. That's simply self preservation.

Why continue with an employer who does not share your sense of values? If you want an open creative place where people pull their wight and share their experiences and you don't have that, make a plan to move to a workplace that does. If you choose to stay and believe you can improve the one you are working at, realize, you made a CHOICE.

I can tell you it IS possible to keep a job you mostly like and improve it through how you act. Rarely can you throw up a list of demands. Think being manipulative is a bad thing? Then it's time to find another job. Humans manipulate each other all the time.

Pay more attention to the people who are doing good things and who respond to improvement. Start isolating and making less fuss over what goes wrong.

Just a little side note that I thought while writing this. Have you considered one reason you're not getting anywhere with your complaint is someone has decided to isolate YOU? It's great to know you're good at your job, but what if you're not as good as you think you are? How about asking for help in improving even if you think you're doing your best?

Sometimes we find ourselves seeing something wrong everywhere. Certainly leave any hazardous workplace, but be careful to not take your fault finding with you.

Whether you stay or go, consider re framing your complaints into something that will benefit where you work. You could also re frame then as unimportant. How about if someone is lazy, suggesting the whole group needs a bit of extra training? If you don't like the rules but they don't HURT you, decide to let that go. Don't use the work fridge, bring food that doesn't require it. Use a thermos to keep your drink cold.

I realize that much of this post is complaining about other people's complaints. I want you to know that I hear what you are all saying and my one sincere hope is that you find a wonderful life that brings you what you most desire. You spend almost a third of your life working. Shouldn't it be at a place that you enjoy?


Sunday, November 10, 2013

King of Pain

Every time I go to the doctor, the clerk gives me a piece of paper with general symptoms on it. I always put down what I observe, but the doc almost never comments on my knee pain. I'm sure she chalks it up to my fatness and therefor isn't really important. It will go away when I get thinner.

I do not seek meds for pain. I rarely take them. I worry about addiction as my family could get caught up in that. Though I suppose I don't really worry THAT much. It doesn't seem to be my thing. Addiction I mean. I can take a single drink of alcohol and not want any more.

I tried pot when I was younger and only smoked a few times. When I realized that the effect seemed like being over tired, I saw no need to continue. Over tired is free and legal. Though, the feeling isn't that great so I don't even do that.

I have no idea where I got the idea, but I started directing my energy away from pain and toward feeling okay. I mean even before I heard Iyanla Van Zant expressed the "Choose Okay" sentiment.

Writing always helps me figure things out. It's not like I just deny any and all sources of pain. I think that's dangerous  As I've said before, it's there for a purpose. "Don't do that. It will hurt."

So I write up the painful things so I can sort through them. Then I can set it aside and use my mental energy to think about the areas where I feel contentedness and joy.

Indiana Jones went through a massively painful event where he got scrapes and bruises all over. His girlfriend began kissing him and he complained about the pain. So she angrily asked where it didn't hurt. He presented his elbow and she kissed it. Then he pointed to various other parts and she kissed those too.

Treat yourself the same way. Let the pain be real while paying some attention to the places that feel fine.

I find I bring more feelings of peace into my life when I think thoughts of peace. I find calm when I look for calm.

Today, I ask you to write down your most prominent pain. Now set that aside for a moment. Think about the spot on your body or the place in your mind where no pain exists. Wallow in the splendid spot for as long as you can.

I find that whenever I do this, I feel less pain even from the very real hurts. Never deny the powerful and amazing lessons the universe has for you by giving you the gift of a painful experience. Give yourself the gift of learning those lessons well enough to go on without the pain.

Kind and gentle comments welcome.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stop! In the Name of Love

I love it when I interact with someone and they come away feeling better than they felt when they started the conversation. Life sometimes sticks and it just needs a little gentle nudge to start moving again.

My greatest asset comes from scouring my memory for connections to sticky spots. Maybe I haven't had that exact problem, but maybe I had something similar. Maybe all I have is a different view.

Biology built pain as a warming. Since we evolved a contemplative mind, we started using emotional pain as warning too. Like a stop sign, pain guides us to avoid certain interactions.

Sometime past experiences come up in our brain and distract us. The pain of these experiences can cause us to veer off the road and send us into a ditch.

I believe that their purpose often gets neglected. I neglect the guidance often. Then I remember that all interactions, even so called "negative" information can keep us on a safe wondrous path.

Use the directions nature gives you. Have pain? Stop, look both ways, when clear, proceed at a careful pace.

Even the most cautious driver makes mistakes. Have a strategy for getting out of the ditch. For me, the most common "ditches' come in the form of what John Bradshaw calls "shame spirals."

Bradshaw says that when we feel we are not worthy and something happens, like we miss an important deadline, we can pile on every misstep and attribute it to our lack of worth. Instead of doing that, have a back up plan.

Many people now carry cell phones at the very least for "emergencies." Find yourself in an emotional ditch? Phone a friend. Text if you must but try a real live human interaction as soon as possible. Make sure the friend doesn't have anything to do with the problem. That way they are less likely to get caught up and wind up in the ditch with you.

Maybe you'll need a mental tow truck? If you had a tough life like mine, therapy REALLY helps. Make sure that you find a reputable one. A good therapy person will help you get calm in order to help you. Though therapy does bring up pain that seems to hurt MORE sometimes, they should never EVER cause it.

Those days when we need more time to sort through our emotional car wreck, put some flares in our tool kit. Phrases that you practice while you're running smooth that you can pull out to alert friends and family that you need help.

I like to ask for understanding without judgement. My most common confidant is Murry so I say that I need to talk and the only responses he can give are "I understand" or "I don't understand. Please explain."

Another flare that isn't mine but Murry's "Too many inputs." It means he can't handle any more information and he needs some time to process what is going on inside his head.

Sometimes our emotional vehicle needs fuel. This can be a literal sense of we need to eat or a figurative sense in we need joyful experiences. When I am upset or in pain, I can both put off eating or eat lots. I try and remind myself that all basic needs serve to keep me in good running order. I check my fuel gauge and fill up on something I really like that is also good for me.

I will look at flowers, cuddle a kitty or puppy, think about pleasant things like the memory of seeing a yellow butterfly land on a purple gladiola. We all have those fond tidbits in our past. Use them to fuel up our psyche.

What emotions would you equate to what road signs? What tools do you keep in your mental trunk to help you out of a problem?

Kind comments welcome.