Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ease on down the road

I've had to make some tough decisions lately. I have had to decide in black and white what I feel I am worth.
How much do I value my time?

Evaluating what I bring to a job. What I offer to an organization. And what I deliver to my students. So many times I have come into a situation or potential relationship knowing what I need, what would make me happy, and what is my bottom line, only to back-pedal when the negotiation begins.

Each time that would happen I would leave feeling a little bereft and put upon.

Didn't they know the value I added to the team.

Weren't they standing to reap an enthusiastic worker?

Perhaps they just didn't "like" me enough.

But I am learning that my worth has nothing to do with "like". When it all gets comes down to the nitty-gritty this question remains:

What am I willing to take?

If I am satisfied and happy with the arrangement then we are all good. But when I feel short-changed or taken advantage of, it is simply not a good space to be in. Not a space worthy of me, my time, my energy.

Now some people/positions/partners may value you, but truly can not (for one reason or another) accommodate your needs. It is not for lack of wanting. It may be due to funding or timing or contractual restraints. And that is fine.

At a time like this you must decide if the relationship is worth pursuing in spite of limitations.

Then there are times when the other party is just not interested in meeting you 1/2 way, a quarter of the way, or even 1/6th. At those times you can stay or you can go. Choosing to stay may serve as a means to an end. Or it may simply feel like another knife to your gut.

Most recently I have had to decide whether to accept or decline new working partnerships. And one essential thing I'm looking for is mutual accommodation. When we come to the negotiation table I can not be the only one there.

Thankfully, I am discovering that is is OKAY to respectfully decline and walk away. Not always easy, but definitely OKAY.

I have gotten to the point where my gut will NOT allow me do otherwise. And for that I'm thankful.

Taking whatever is offered me would be/could be easy. Dealing with myself/my voice everyday after once again settling  and selling myself short would be terrible.

And I'm done with terrible.

Monday, February 18, 2013

About this Life

We are getting more settled in our new home/state/environment everyday and I am missing my old job, my moms (yes plural), and run friends more and more each day.

My current job hunting has brought up an extra dose of wistfulness. Before we left Illinois I worked for an amazing non-profit that trained me, nurtured me, and trusted me to deal 1-on-1 with students, teachers, and volunteers. We worked with generally low-income/high-need learners on a daily basis.

It really gave me life.

Because after searching, volunteering, and trial & error I had stumbled upon my dream job. And now it's gone.

So I'm back in the market for work. And it's tough out here. I'm pretty much dedicated to the non-profit sector, but with that also comes many minuses. Fair pay is a big one. Although these types of organizations operate on fewer funds than their for-profit counter-parts some still find a way to mimic the discrepancies between administrative and ground level staff pay; on par with that of corporate America.

I commiserated with a friend in the non-profit sector about these elusive negotiation processes and the frustration wrought by the talk really strengthened my resolved to become the change I want to see.

I want to create/fund/work with an organization that serves the educational needs of the community. From child to teen to parents. To offer solutions, help, and directions that work to eliminate the cycle of poverty in pockets of America. 

And I want to do that while fairly compensating my staff. Because while people can support you and believe in you, they ultimately burn out or become resentful when they are underpaid and overworked. Trust me I know.

Who knows where my family will evidential plant our roots, but whether its with my beloved literacy organization from home, or a place of my own. I'm about this life: living, learning, sharing, paying.

Monday, February 11, 2013


So much of learning involves letting go. Letting go of assumptions. Old habits. Blinders. Sometimes we let go of things without ever realizing we held them. Other times its damn near impossible to relax our grasp.

You know how some things can trigger an automatic reaction inside of you. No thinking or analysing. They just cause you to react. For better or worse.

For instance, a child running across a parking lot makes my arms flinch, wanting to reach out and stop them even if I'm several cars or rows away. Or how poor grammar usage triggers the auto-correct inside my head, which usually comes out my mouth.

Then there are times when your usual reaction is no longer enough. It's just the same tired dance you've done for so long. The dance that often causes relationships to end, friends to grow apart, or people to fall down in despair.

The good thing about becoming tired of a repeating cause and effect is that you can begin to disassociate yourself from the drama of the moment and instead observe yourself.

You can ask:

What am I doing?
Why am I doing it?
Is this action working for me?

Then you wait for the answer to one or all of those questions. Sometimes the answer involves creating a new dance. Other times a new song will do.

It just requires letting go of the old one.

Monday, February 4, 2013


There's this thing I used to believe in.

Instant Deliverance. 

It's a rather common religion-centered belief.

Here's how it work. You identify a problem. You and possibly others pray/talk about the problem. If God wills/you will, you are then spontaneously delivered. Another name for this could actually be: Cold-Turkey. The act of stopping something immediately and completely.

The premise being that if you want something bad enough, if you want to be "right" strong enough; you will stop whatever harmful thing that you are doing.

Deliverance/cold-turkey works great for some people. They quit smoking or swearing or clubbing with friends at the snap of a finger. They release anger, because they say so. They heal from old wounds because they believe so. Which, if it works, is great for them.

The problem for me lies in the fact that everyone isn't a cold-turkey person. It's just not possible that everyone can just drop all their luggage just like that. We're not all built the same. And often our messes/problems are an inter-related jumble. We smoke because we're stressed or have simply formed a bad habit. We over-spend because we are depressed. We sleep around because we are afraid to be alone.

So just stopping anything/everything that may not be productive or good for us is not only complicated, but messy and overwhelming.

I have come to realize that I greatly value acceptance. Accepting my ugly, even if it screams:

I am angry. I am sad. I am scared. 

This is what is. I am not trying to change me or berate me or accommodate others. This is what is. And I accept it.

I am noticing the more that I accept me, the freer I am becoming. Then I can ask myself without judgement, "Why am I angry?" "Why am I scared?"

And as I become ready, I answer some of my questions, and leave others for later. But through it all I am gentle with myself. If I cannot treat myself with care, who will?

That is how I see deliverance now. Not a behavior to desist, but a state of mind-peace and love to attain. Flaws do not own me. I am who I am. I accept me. That is my deliverance.