Damned If You Do (K.Blais)

How many times have we felt this way – like we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t? How often has life dealt us hands or placed us in situations in which there is no way possible that we can win?

Life can be like a series of no-win situations and since interactions with others are part of life it is no wonder that our relationships often follow life’s example. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, we will never win. No matter how determined we are to be kind, to attempt to please others, to be thoughtful and/or diplomatic in and about our dealings with others, we will never do enough, be enough, or please anyone, including ourselves.

It may seem that there will be no satisfying anyone because there are some who can only see the negative. There are those who seem programmed to pick out the flaws, faults, and errors which others make. For some, I suppose, it supplies an element of satisfaction to point out these shortcomings because, perhaps, it makes them feel better about themselves and their own inadequacies. It’s a fair-from-perfect strategy though – the one in which we tear someone else down in order to build ourselves up. This only becomes another no-win situation that will always result in a pattern of events which will continue to prove hurtful to everyone in the end.

When we seem determined to be “right”, to be the one who proves others wrong, or to be he who acts as a mirror to us in order to portray where we have gone wrong, we place ourselves in a position where others may begin to resent us. Few of us believe that we are perfect, most believe themselves to be far from it. Having our mistakes, however innocent, continuously pointed out to us only adds to this feeling. But, if that’s the goal of some, to keep us feeling inferior and less than adequate, then mission accomplished I suppose. When we constantly feel like we will never live up to another’s expectations, some of us will stop trying and this is when resentment builds and communication breaks down.

If you are the mirror, the finger pointer, the one who is always right and points to the always wrong, please take a moment and ask yourself why you are doing this. Is it because you feel badly about some elements in your own life that you are determined to make these things seem better by proving someone else is worse off? Or is it because you simply have a strong dislike for those you are determined to prove at fault?

If you are the reflection, on the receiving end of the pointing, the one who seems to be always wrong or at fault, please also take a moment and ask yourself why you continue to put up with this kind of treatment. Is it because you are and have always been the peacemaker and you are determined to make peace even with this? Or is it because you truly want to finally have the respect of those who are determined to prove you at fault?

People can only change when they truly want to change. Patterns and habits can be broken, but only with determination and a true desire to break them. The first step is acknowledging that there is indeed something to modify in our behaviour and the next one is admitting that we have been experiencing or causing others pain and sadness through these actions. Communication needs to happen, but everyone has to be willing to communicate compassionately and respectfully.

Hopefully there are still enough of us who like to think of the glass as half-full, but there will always be times where no matter how hard we try, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The important thing is to acknowledge those life situations and relationships in which we can never win and to make a decision to move toward putting our time, energy, and positivity into the ones in which all parties feel equal, respected, and loved.

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How’s Your Conscience? (K.Blais)

con·science
ˈkän(t)SHəns/
noun
an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior.

synonyms: sense of right and wrong, moral sense, inner voice

Soooooo, how’s your conscience doing lately?

When you lie your head down at night are you able to peacefully reflect on the day and all of its blessings or do you lie awake because of things you’ve said, behaviours you’ve displayed, or because you didn’t speak or act when you should’ve?

Did you live the day by the Golden Rule or did you continue throughout the day without thinking about how your words or actions may have affected others?

Did you speak to others with respect, even if you didn’t agree with them or their opinions? Did you treat others’ feelings with care so as not to embarrass them or cause them to feel ashamed for things either you misunderstood or for something beyond their control?

Did you attempt to be honest with yourself and with others? Did you take responsibility for your own behaviours or did you attempt to blame the purpose or cause of your actions on someone else? Did you make excuses or find reasons to be ‘right’, instead of being kind?

Did you attempt to justify the choices and the subsequent actions you took, however poor those decisions were, by rationalizing that somehow you ‘did what you had to do’? Or did you acknowledge your own choices as poor and vow to strive to do better the next time?

Did you try to be a positive role model for your children, children in your care, or children around you? Did you lovingly guide those children to appropriate behaviours and manners in dealing with others? Did your own actions reflect those you want to see in our future generation?

When you fell short, did you reflect on where you went wrong and how to avoid doing so again in the future? Did you ask for forgiveness when necessary? Were you able to find peace with yourself and others in talking things through and making amends?

When others approached you with their feelings and wanted to discuss concerns they have, did you keep an open frame of mind or did you become defensive and spring on the attack in order to point out their wrongs as well?

When you lie your head down at night or look at yourself in the mirror the next morning, are you able to accept the person you’ve become?

At the end of the day can you give an honest answer to the question : how is your conscience?

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Less Is More (K.Blais)

Saying less is definitely saying more. Sometimes saying nothing at all is even the best approach.

It’s been a while since I posted. I hadn’t intended on taking a break, yet again, and it’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, because I did.

It occurred to me today as I contemplated a blog post topic that sometimes saying less is more.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people use words carelessly and don’t seem to realize the effect their words have on others. Many don’t consider, or want to acknowledge perhaps, that there are some of us who take words and how they are used very seriously.

Yes, I am one of the many people who listen to (or read) carefully the words people use and how they actually are being said and then derive the intended meaning from them. Is there anything wrong with that? No, I don’t believe so. Does that make me vulnerable to people? Maybe it does. We are all different and some of us may find it easier to let things ‘roll off our backs’ than others. Many of us don’t believe that words are just words and that we should not take them too seriously. I think words deserve a lot more respect than that.

It bothers me to no end when words are thrown around carelessly towards others, comments are posted on social media without thought as to whom they may affect or hurt, and that it seems everyone has a “right” to speak first and think later. Yes, we are all entitled to our thoughts and opinions, but not at the cost of hurting others or attempting to make them feel badly about their successes or things beyond their control. And “jokes” are only funny when both people see them as so (just because a ‘just kidding’ is added doesn’t make hurtful things ok to say).

Sadly, many of us that these words and comments are directed towards take these things directly to heart. We process and re-process the words, comments, and statements over in our minds as a way of trying to understand why they were said and how to deal with how they have made us feel. Even those who shouldn’t matter that much to us (you know the ones who wouldn’t jump puddles for you) have a way of affecting us with their words, whether we want them to or not. We may try to say that we don’t care, but in reality we do. Does that give them unlimited power over us? I don’t believe so. Some of us just may feel more deeply and be more sensitive than others, a difference which is to be respected not controlled or abused.

I realize that this blog post echoes many of the thoughts and perspectives that I have shared over the last three years, but I felt that they could bear some repeating.

Think first, speak only after much considered thought.

If it isn’t positive, productive, or true, don’t say it.

Words can hurt just as much as sticks and stones and can do even more damage.

Not everyone feels, thinks, or believes the same things that you do. Respect those differences.

You truly don’t know the battles or successes that people face each day, especially when you haven’t bothered to try to get to know them. Refrain from passing judgment.

Not everyone receives and interprets information the same way that others might. Some people just don’t know. Some just may not understand.

It is more important to be kind than it is to be right. Being right doesn’t make you a better person.

We were put on this earth to help one another, not to compete with or to be better than one another.

Use your words to help and to heal. Choose them wisely.

Getting My A@# Kicked (K.Blais)

I was away for a couple of days this week attending a conference for work. It was a great conference only made greater by the fact that I got to visit one of my favourite places in Ontario, got to spend time with some of my most favourite gal pals, and got to reconnect with some great colleagues that I have missed working with. The conference brought back to me the certainty that I am in the right profession, doing what I truly enjoy doing, and made me feel like a thinking professional. It was a nice change from the regular and daily schedule of my job.

(image courtesy of goodenoughmother.com)

I truly enjoyed the time away, even though I did miss my family. But I do have to say that coming back was a bit of a reality jolt.

You see, for those full 48 hours I only had myself to look after. I had myself to feed, to dress, to keep clean, and to clean up after (but in all fairness I didn’t even do that as we were staying in a hotel). I only needed to discuss and agree with others about where and what time we would go out for dinner, and perhaps maybe a few more important things like if the Dollar King sells underwear, what a Foam Party is, and if we are too old to partake in one.

Stepping back through the doorway at home felt surreal. My kids clambered through the house still glad to be home after happily spending the time I was away at my parents’. The house was pretty much as I had left it, which had been fairly clean, but I was suddenly overwhelmed at all the things that I now had to do again. The floors needed to be vacuumed, the laundry needed to be done, lunches were waiting to be at least considered for the next day, and bags needed to be unpacked.

I thought briefly about the simplicity of that hotel room. Oh sure the room had its ups and downs and I remembered the point when my roommate unintentionally looked up in the bathroom only to find something unidentifiable on the ceiling (not put there by her). But, despite that, the room was simple and easy to live in. I had two bags and a fabulous purse and everything I needed for my current lifestyle was in there. It was blissfully simple. Here, at home, I had two floors and a basement of a house to look after, filled with many things that weren’t always necessary for life.

As I blundered through putting away things and tidied up as best I could, I remembered the planning I needed to do for work, the Math course which sat drifting in cyberspace waiting for me to virtually pick back up where I left off, and the writing I should be editing to make good on my promise to whole heartedly search for an agent.

My mood was curt and short, in fact, I was now angry. I had gone from being carefree, fun-loving, and laughing to feeling “burdened” by the constant demands of my real life.

Yep. Sometimes reality can give you a real kick in the ass, can’t it?

The next day I awoke to the alarm clock, insanely early it seemed, and started my day off on the right foot, or so I thought. I tackled the Math course as I gulped my coffee, I threw on my running shoes and went out for a jog, and I even put together a platter for the pot-luck lunch at work. That was when I realized – I needed to be at work early for a staff photo. Bedlam broke loose until I realized that there was no way that I was going to make it on time, so I gave up on fighting through the chaos and on making the photo. The reality was that I couldn’t do it with a 20 minute commute ahead of me and only 15 minutes to get there.

Further realities hit as I stumbled through the day at work, feeling like it was Monday instead of Wednesday and trying to tie up loose ends from being out of my little “world” for the past two days. Everything was going along busily but fairly well until I decided to tackle the Math course again on my prep. Suddenly I remembered what it had been like in university when I had been required to read articles which seemed like they were written in another language.

The reality of the complexity of the Math course was now kicking my ass too.

I managed to finish the day, headed home, and then ventured back out again for a meeting. Reality wasn’t finished with me yet, either. The pressures of volunteer work and my sensitivities with appreciation and criticism took root and by the end of the night all I could do was tearfully crash into bed, glad the day was over.

I’ve had my ass kicked before by professors, boot camp instructors, and even critical readers, but the most thorough and effective kicks I have ever received have been from reality itself. Reality, in its truest form, will always bring you crashing down to the level that you’re ‘supposed’ to be at. When I get too ‘high and mighty’ reality will be there to knock me off my pedestal. When I get to thinking that I’m pretty smart and too confident, reality will remind me that I’m not smart enough yet. When I begin to think that things should go the way I want them to, then reality will be there to prove to me that I’m not always doing the best job that I can. Reality reminds me that I can do and try my best, but it will be God who will do the rest.

I’m glad to be home and back to reality. I enjoyed my time away, however brief it was. It is good to go away, but it is also good to come back even when it’s a reality check of sorts. I will recover from the ass kicking that reality has dealt me, at least until I am subjected to another. That’s the great thing about reality. It’s always waiting for us to wake up to it once again, boots on, and ready to kick.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys – Trust Me (K.Blais)

I can’t tell you how many times these past couple of weeks that I have had to shake my head, sometimes in amazement, sometimes in disbelief, and even sometimes in disgust.

People, in general, never cease to baffle me.

(image courtesy of shutterstock.com)

My favourite saying lately has, (somewhat ironically), come from a Polish Proverb: “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” I have repeated this often in my many moments of amazement, disbelief, bafflement, and disgust as I felt myself unwillingly drawn into, or at least forced to watch, the drama and performances of others.

It’s not always that easy though, is it? We may desperately try to not let the misdeeds and misbehaviours of others affect our own circus and performances, but yet, sometimes, we find ourselves trying to cage those foolish monkeys, even if they aren’t ours.

I know I have said it before, but it still surprises me when individuals behave in a certain way and then are shocked when they must reap the consequences of their actions. It’s not rocket science or brain surgery: if you act like a jerk, people are going to avoid being around you. If you disrespect others, then people will begin to dislike you. It may have absolutely nothing to do with your heritage, your job, or your social status – if you are an ass you will find that there are very few people who will respect an ass. Trust me.

It also continues to surprise me that both the young and the old still (believe that they can?) get away with bullying. Have we not already seen too many of our loved ones suffer depression and even lose them to suicide because of the way that they have been treated by others? Have we not preached and cried and lamented over the fact that bullying must NOT be tolerated in ANY place at ANY time? But yet we still see it occurring. I have witnessed adults bullying adults and the bullying of children by other children and even by adults as well. There is something desperately wrong in our society today if we feel that it is ok to treat anyone poorly. A question I ask my students, my own children, and yes, even some adults: Would you want to be treated this way? If not, then don’t treat anyone else that way either (the Golden Rule philosophy). Bullying should NOT be tolerated and children should be taught at a very early age that unkindness is NOT ok. If no one tells them now, no one will be able to tell them as adults later. Trust me.

I’m not quite sure why I am repeatedly shocked when I see people bringing drama on themselves unnecessarily. Yes, we should all have opinions and we have a right to express those opinions, but why look for trouble when you don’t need to? Everyone deserves to have an opinion, but unless that opinion is shared tactfully, some may find themselves a target when others feel strongly in the opposite way. Disagreements do erupt, friendships and relationships are damaged, and all for what? It’s true, sometimes people take things too personally and feel that they are being “called out” in social media, when, in reality perhaps they are not. It boils down, once again, to treating others the way we would want to be treated ourselves; an issue which reminds me of another of my favourite sayings – “Be kind. And if you can’t be kind, be quiet”. It’s a much more pleasant way to live. Trust me.

I often find myself bewildered at the things which people say. Personally speaking, I don’t profess to know everything, but I am confident in my knowledge of the things which I do know. That doesn’t mean that I feel the need to argue or to find opportunities to prove others wrong. I don’t need to be “right” to feel better about myself or to prove that I ‘know’ more than someone else (which is often based only on one’s own opinion and not on any solid facts). I like to laugh and joke around and I do like to tease good-naturedly, but (hopefully) never to the point where I have made someone feel badly about themselves. I believe in being honest and upfront with others, but I believe in being kind more. There is always a way to be honest with someone and, at the same time, to avoid making them feel inferior. There are ways to be intelligent, funny, and honest and still be kind. People’s feelings should matter more than being right, honest, or funny because hurting someone else unnecessarily is much worse than being wrong, fibbing, or ‘un-funny’. Trust me.

I love mankind, but I will admit that ‘people’ can get under my skin on occasion. I suppose these experiences strengthen my character and teach me to love and care for others even when it is undesirable to do so. I can’t help but wonder: if everyone was the ring master of their own circus, tamed their own monkeys, and thought out their own performances a little more carefully, would the show not run a little more smoothly and the world of the big tent become a happier place? Trust me, I think it would.

Repaying The Pied Piper (K.Blais)

Two nights ago I dreamt of rats. In my dream I was trying to get somewhere for a certain time, to do something important, and rats kept crossing my path, preventing me from getting where I needed to be. The white, red-eyed, long tailed rats were there when I was driving on the highway and they were there in the hall that I was trying to walk down. I wasn’t really afraid of the rats, more annoyed actually, even though perhaps I should’ve been.

I’m sure there is probably some symbolic dream interpretation of these white, beady-eyed rats, but I woke up thinking of the Pied Piper. Almost a year ago I wrote a well received post Paying The Pied Piper (click to read). (The Pied Piper is a person who is able to persuade and convince others to “follow” him and join in embracing his philosophies and points of view. The Pied Piper plays a tune which is alluring to others and his “followers” (rats) back him up by adding strength and confidence to his persona.)

(image courtesy of Google images)

Perhaps the dream is a reflection of the amount of thinking that I have been doing of how some of us look repeatedly to others to assure us of our status, to aid us in building our own confidence and self-esteem, and how the approval of others can even lead us to strive to be someone we may not otherwise choose or be proud to be. All too often and sadly, I have had to stand by and watch this happen.

As of late, I’ve again noticed that some of us can depend so much on the approval and acceptance of others that we forget who our true friends and loved ones (the ones that have repeatedly stood by us) are. It saddens me to think that the acceptance of these ‘others’ is more important than the love and support of true friendship and family that has always been there.

I realize that this continues to be an age-old problem and one that I know many of us can relate to. I’m sure that there is not one person reading this post who hasn’t at one time or another felt pushed aside, placed on the back burner, left to gather dust on a shelf, ignored, or ‘left hanging’ while our ‘friends’ take “better” offers to do “better” things with other people or even leave us out in the cold in order to seek the approval or acceptance of someone else. Now I’m not saying that people can’t have or make other friends – I love making new friends and spending time with new people — I’m simply saying that when we push aside the ones who have always been there for us in order to “follow” someone else then we can’t expect those who have been pushed aside to continue to be there when we need them.

I can see how it happens, however. As much as we try to do our ‘own thing’ and to live our lives in our own way, we can easily fall into the pattern of searching out the acceptance and opinions of others in order to build up our own confidence. If our self-esteem is low, we may choose to spend time with others who make us feel good about ourselves in one way or another. This is not always a bad thing as we should spend our time with people who bring out the best in us and help us to feel good about ourselves. But, when we do so to the exclusion and detriment of others and their feelings it becomes problematic. As well, when we develop the “us vs. them” mentality of the Pied Piper, we can end up being destructive to past and present relationships and volatile to the current situations around us.

The allure of the Pied Piper hasn’t changed. He still promises strength in numbers, his backing and confidence if you side with him, and the attitude that if you are “with” him you join him in being “better” than everyone else. He still does what’s best for him and assures you that it will be what’s best for you. He walks with confidence and a false sense of pride; even when the chips are low and the odds are against him, he is able to come out on top — and so will you. Falling into a pile of sh&* is no problem – with his charm and slick tongue he will come out smelling like a rose — just stick with him.

The tune the Pied Piper plays continues to be alluring, intoxicating, and tempting, but its melodic notes end quickly and abruptly when you realize that all they offer is a false sense of security and comfort. The sad reality is that when you are out of the Pied Piper’s grasp and no longer a victim to his melody, you can see through him. You can see who he really is, one low on self-esteem and envious of others, and you wonder how you could’ve been duped in the first place. You then join the other outcasts as they unwillingly sit back and watch more rats fall under his spell. You become torn between feeling sympathy for the rats and, yes, perhaps even pity for him.

In the end, the Pied Piper’s tune will fall on deaf ears and there will be no more rats to hear his playing. We will all reap what we sow and perhaps we will be treated by others just how we have treated them. My friends, we can rest assured in the faith that what goes around does indeed come around again. The Pied Piper is no exception.

Need Deodorant? (K.Blais)

I was in the shower this morning thinking about a blog topic. A little last minute to be trying to find a topic you might think, but sometimes this is the way it creatively goes in my world. My thoughts started to wander and I began to think about all of the things which I had to accomplish today, not only writing a blog post, but also heading to my polling station to vote. To be honest, the thought of voting this year made me a little sick to my stomach. As I thought about voting and the shared opinions I had been reading on social media, (some I agree with, others I still cringe to think about), I realized that while we are all entitled to our own opinions and can vote accordingly, not all of us may have good common sense.

Ouch. I may have poured some salt into a few wounds there, but maybe I lack in the common sense department too. (Ha ha?)

I am not going to go on about tonight’s vote, nor will I throw stones at anyone who votes for a political party which I can’t and won’t in ANY way support or condone, because I really try not to talk about or argue politics. I do not feel that I know enough about “politics” in general to argue or to debate with anyone, nor am I confident enough in my own knowledge to quote statistics or pull out past practice examples. But, I will say that for this election I did do my best to inform my own opinion about the issues which matter most to me and to my family. Really, that’s all we should ask for from any voter.

Voting, elections, and politics aside, I have always struggled with these questions – are people born with or without common sense? Is common sense something which can be taught?

As an educator myself, I believe that most things can be taught to a willing learner, and surely we can teach and learn critical thinking strategies and processes. But what about teaching good, old common sense? Like knowing something is a good idea or a bad one or what one could do in a particular situation without something essential which is needed.

I think the first time I realized that not everyone may have common sense was in university. I was in a friend’s dorm room in residence when her roommate came in, flustered and complaining to the point of anxiety that the dryers weren’t working in the basement laundry facility — how was she ever going to dry her clothes? When I suggested that she hang her clothing on hangers around the room and off of her chair etc., she looked at me like I was a complete and utter genius. I shrugged off her compliments of how clever I was to think of this; really she was a brilliant girl herself. She was very smart, but she lacked a little in the common sense department I realized (not only by this situation, but also by others I would soon learn as well).

Part of critical thinking in the classroom is asking oneself if the answer or rationale is “reasonable”. “Does your thinking make sense? Is it reasonable to believe this?” I ask my students. These questions can be applied to the real world as well. We might argue that what is reasonable to one might not be reasonable to another, but common sense can also rely on good judgment. If it doesn’t make sense, then maybe I shouldn’t do it. If it doesn’t seem reasonable or logical, then I probably should not believe it to be true, at least not in its entirety.

Common sense, I’m starting to think, can possibly be learned through trial and error. If I do “this”, and “this” happens, then maybe I shouldn’t do “this” anymore because the consequence of “this” was not favourable. If I do “that”, and “that” happens, then I should do “that” again because “that” was a desirable and reasonable outcome. If we can learn from our mistakes, maybe we can learn the common sense to not make the same mistakes again. Maybe?

On the other hand, if I lack good judgment, will I ever learn from my mistakes? Will I keep making the same ones over and over because I cannot see where I have gone wrong? Does common sense come into play here too? If I have no common sense, will I ever learn good judgment? (I’m starting to see this as a vicious circle…)

I love the following statement: Common sense is like deodorant. The people who need it most never use it. It made me laugh the first time I read it and it still makes me laugh today. There is so much truth in those simple two sentences that I can’t even begin to clarify them any further, so I won’t.

My friends, the reality is that a little bit of deodorant will never hurt anyone, but a huge lack of common sense can hurt a whole lot of people. A whole nation, perhaps.

 

 

 

 

 

Being A “F&$%ing Idiot” (K.Blais)

So, I’m an idiot. Actually, I’m a “f&$%ing idiot” to be exact. I was called those exact words this week after an innocent mistake while driving on the highway in a construction area. Not being able to see around the dump truck, I mistakenly followed it into the wrong lane of the construction area believing I was following the flow of traffic. This resulted in a construction worker (a foreman) yelling loudly only a few feet away from my car, calling me a “f&$%ing idiot”, and dropping the f bombs several more times at me while shouting up a storm. I had no idea what I had done wrong until, in my shock, I finally registered that he was pointing and yelling at me to “get in the other f&$%ing lane”. I obediently moved over, without incident. All the while, my six year old daughter sat in the back seat.

Let me point out that there was no immediate danger. I was not speeding or causing potential harm to him or any of the construction workers on site. There were no markers saying which lane to stay in and no flag person directing traffic at midpoint of the long stretch. There were pylons lining the middle and sides of the road, but no indication given as to which lane was the side to travel on. My sight line was extremely limited behind the dump truck and so I had no idea as to which way to go, as there were no other vehicles ahead. But, for that, I’m a “f&$%ing idiot”.

I’ve never been called an idiot before (at least to my knowledge), let alone a “f&$%ing idiot”. I know I’ve been called other things, maybe even worse things, and I know that there’s probably at least of couple of people who probably don’t think too highly of me right now for their own reasons, but ‘idiot’ is a new one for me. Maybe you could even say that I’ve hit an all-time low with that one.

What exactly is an “idiot”?

Dictionary.com tells me that an idiot is an utterly foolish or senseless person. Wikipedia.org explains that an idiot, dolt, or a dullard is an intellectually disabled person, or someone who acts in a self-defeating or significantly counterproductive way.

Personally, I think I fit neither one of those definitions, but once again, some may disagree. I think what’s important here is that even if I was utterly foolish or senseless, or even intellectually disabled, there is NO WAY in HELL that I, nor anyone else, deserve to be treated like that.

Treating others in this way is absolutely shameful. Name calling and cussing at someone is completely unnecessary, and, in my opinion, speaks volumes about the person who is doing the insulting and cursing. It is mind blowing to think that anyone feels they have the right to treat another person in such a low, derogatory way; it’s bullying, it’s verbal assault, and it’s shameful.

Maybe I should feel pity for that hateful man on the highway. Perhaps he was having a bad day (although it was only 9 am), suffers from low self-esteem and needs to feel superior to others, or perhaps he is dealing with other issues in his life. But you know what? Even a naturally compassionate person like me has a hard time feeling sorry for someone who was so blatantly malicious and verbally abusive towards a complete stranger in a confusing predicament, especially with a child in the vehicle. Calling someone an idiot, let alone an “f&$%ing idiot”, does not evoke sympathy in most people I’m sure, especially in such circumstances.

So am I an idiot for not knowing which way to go in this confusing construction zone? (Even my most industrially intelligent friends say no.) Did I deserve to be shouted and cursed at repeatedly by a community worker for an innocent mistake which was easily corrected? (Again, my community service worker friends adamantly say no.) Personally, I’d like to think not. Perhaps the only thing that makes me foolish out of this whole experience is the fact that I allowed this person, this sad excuse for a fellow human being, to upset me to the point where I was visibly shaken from the encounter and that I allowed it to bother me for the next couple of days.

What I’ve taken away from this experience is vital. This occurrence has reinforced my firm belief that everyone we meet, whether it is a formal introduction or a passing on the highway, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. NO ONE deserves to be screamed at, called names, or to be treated badly for ANY reason. Once again I believe that the Golden Rule is of the utmost importance – treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself.

So, construction worker/foreman from a construction company which I will not name and slander at the cost of you, you know who you are and what you are, and this is my message to you:

I AM NOT A F&%$ING IDIOT and SHAME ON YOU for your behavior. Let’s hope that maybe, one day, you will eventually learn to treat others with respect, regardless of their mistakes.

 

Quitting: The Reasons (K.Blais)

Stick a fork in me, because I am done.

I give up.

I am not usually a quitter; however, I believe that I am throwing in the towel. As I have said before, I’m usually the one hanging in there until the bitter end, holding onto the last shred of hope in any given situation. Very rarely do I give up, but over the last couple of weeks it has become very clear to me that there some things which I MUST quit, things which I clearly MUST give up as they have started to cause more grief and stress in my life than anything else.

Let me begin by saying that not everyone will share in my opinions and that’s ok. My current life perspective is that I should forgive those who ask, but that doesn’t mean that I have to keep finding myself in positions where I am used, taken advantage of, or hurt. Quitting isn’t always about admitting defeat. Quitting can be about realizing that things are not going to change, to accept that, and to move on in a different direction.

Firstly, I have decided to quit trying to help those who refuse to help themselves. That may seem harsh, so let me explain. Sometimes we find ourselves trying to ‘help’ people who are determined to only see the negative in their lives. Try as we might, we find ourselves in an endless cycle of encouraging, motivating, and supporting these people endlessly only to have them ignore our well-intentioned advice or to even slap us in the face by continuing to make bad decisions, furthering their own troublesome situations or circumstances. Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Sometimes we may wonder if we are insane when we help and help and help and continue to expect the other person’s patterns to change. Being the ‘helper’, the listener, the good friend is exhausting when it is taken for granted and seldom reciprocated.

Secondly, I will no longer allow myself to feel inferior to those who don’t know (or who don’t bother to get to know) me. I have all too often (even though I have promised myself repeatedly that I wouldn’t) spent way too much precious time, energy, and emotion caring about what others think, especially those who barely know who I am. We all need to remember to not place value on ourselves through the standards of others. A lovely picture of any thing, anyone, or any situation can be painted – we need to be careful not to judge our own behind the scenes action with someone else’s highlight reel.

Thirdly, I am done with feelings of inadequacy. I try my best and I do what I can, but sometimes that doesn’t seem like it is enough for some people. I’ve come to the realization that to some, nothing will ever be enough. There will always be issues of competition and comparison, and I feel the need to take myself out of that game. I am who I am. I strive to keep my nose to the grind and to be a respectable, hard-working, and kind person. I don’t expect anyone to take pity on me when I go through rough times, and the only thing that I ask is that my family and I are shown the respect that we give to others.

Lastly, I will stop letting my insecurities define me, who I am, and how I feel about myself. We all feel insecure at times, even the most confident people have moments of self-doubt and uncertainty, but we can’t let those insecurities cripple us. When we allow ourselves to doubt our own abilities and to whole heartedly believe in our fears and to listen to the voice that whispers “I can’t’, a voice which often echoes in our heads, we will never reach our potential, we will never strive to achieve our goals, and we will never realize how great we can really be.

Maybe we all need to be quitters. Perhaps we all need to be done with those things which no longer are positive for us and which do not lend themselves to fostering happiness in our lives. Only when we realize this will we find ourselves able to take the steps required to change things and only then will we find the courage to quit and to begin again.

Quitting doesn’t have to be about giving up or about giving in. It doesn’t have to be about taking the easy route or being lazy. Quitting something harmful to our emotional (and/or physical) health provides the opportunity for a fresh start and a new beginning.

Sometimes it’s ok to be a quitter.

(all images courtesy of pinterest.com)

Grace Under Fire (K.Blais)

(image courtesy of Google images)

I woke up this morning with a feeling of dread. To be completely honest it’s been a difficult week. Unfortunately I have found myself in situations where I or my family has been “put under fire” by random people whom I’ve encountered. I know that we all have off days, weeks, even months, and I am reminded of my blog post on perceptions, perspective and reality from over a year ago where I explored the idea that things are not always as they seem, but this week I have spent most of my time thinking about these negative and upsetting encounters and how, sometimes, we as humans can be real jerks.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not going to start bashing anyone or their behavior in this blog post, and I am certainly not saying that I am without fault myself. I know that I fit right into the statement which I just made because I can be a real jerk at times too. I like to think though that I try to live my life with dignity and respect for others, that I try very hard to see both sides of the story, and that I handle things in the best way that I can, keeping other people’s feelings in mind. As I have said before, I can say that I honestly try to live by the Golden Rule, to treat others how I would want to be treated and, at the risk of completely patting myself on the back, I believe that I do this pretty successfully, most of the time. However, I can’t speak for others and whether humanity as a whole does the same because up until today my experiences this week have lead me to believe that there are many people who do not give a crap about how others feel.

BUT… rather than focus on those negative experiences and how I’ve questioned why people do what they do, why they decide to say hurtful things when it is completely unnecessary, and why they persist in continuing to verbally “attack” even when politely confronted, I’m going to focus on today and how one simple, kind act made me smile and restored my faith in the kindness of humanity.

It wasn’t a big thing that happened this morning. It wasn’t even that it cost anyone much time, money, or energy to do. What made the most impact on this kind act was that someone thought about me today and did one kind thing to make my day easier and better just because. I am tearing up just thinking about it because today someone made me feel like I was in their thoughts and that my feelings mattered.

This one simple act of kindness has helped to begin to erase the other incidents of ‘attack’ this week. The simple fact that someone would do a thoughtful deed with no self benefit has made me realize that there is still kindness in the hearts of random people.

Many of us have heard about the trends of Random Acts of Kindness (see www.randomactsofkindness.org) and Paying It Forward (see www.pifexperience.org), but how many of us have actually taken the time to do something kind or to pay kindness forward? A random act of kindness is defined as a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to assist or cheer up an individual person or people (Wikipedia.org). How many of us can actually say that we do kind things without thinking about how it might benefit us at some point in return?

Kindness does not have to be about doing things for others. Kindness can be about staying quiet when you have nothing nice to say, not repeating things that you hear because those words would be hurtful to someone else, and encouraging others to do the same. Kindness is about remembering that others have feelings and that words can cut deeper than a knife. Harsh words may linger and hurt more and longer than you realize and they may affect others more greatly than you know. It only takes a moment to stop and think before you speak or react to something someone else has said. In that moment you can save someone a lot of hurt.

As much as I would love for every one to read this and that suddenly the world might become a kinder place, I realize that this likely isn’t going to happen. So among the many lessons which I have learned this week is that I need to accept that there are people that enjoy negativity and look for opportunities to create conflict. It will depend on how I handle those situations which will determine the outcome of those occurrences. I have learned that there are people who find pleasure in making others feel inadequate and insecure and will say things to attack another’s personality, character, and even their family, but those things may be said out of insecurities and inadequacies of their own. I have also learned that there are still people who are kind and enjoy doing kind things for no other reason other than to just be kind. I have learned to be grateful for those random acts of kindness and the amount of happiness that they can bring to the day.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is that I can demonstrate fortitude (thank you, J) and grace under fire in handling situations where people are unkind and that proves the strength of MY character and MY resilience in handling adversity. I can show kindness to others, even when it is not shown to me, because, at the end of the week, I am the one who needs to look in the mirror and say that I handled each day, good or bad, in the best way that I could. That is ultimately what needs to be remembered.