Sharing Sunday: 10 Things I’ve Asked Myself Since Moving

In no particular order:

  1. WHY ON EARTH DO I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF?
  2. Who keeps putting plastic in the compost bin, and why don’t they know what ‘compost’ means?
  3. I can live without eating potatoes, right? Because I don’t want to buy a whole bag and then have them growing those weird sprouts in my cupboard.
  4. Is cleaning considered procrastinating if it needs to be done anyway?
  5. If a cupcake is the only thing you’ve eaten in the morning, is it considered breakfast or a snack?
  6. Do I have to shovel my designated parking space if I don’t have a car?
  7. Is it OK for me to play music if it’s not loud? It is my apartment, after all.
  8. I walked to the grocery store to buy nachos. Does that count as cardio?
  9. Why do I think all the makeup I brought with me is boring now that it’s not in my budget to buy more?
  10. Why didn’t I do this before?

Happy Sunday, y’all.

I Like Lists (and talking about myself)

Every time I get new followers, I feel the need to reintroduce myself as if writing my personal, private thoughts in blog posts isn’t enough. That’s what this post is, only it will be in list form rather than paragraphs. The reason? If I use paragraphs, this post will be 10000 words long. (I take the advice, “Write what you know” literally.) In that spirit, here are 16 things about me.

  1. I’m good at picking up on a person’s strengths. There are few people about whom I can say, “He/she has no redeeming qualities.” Every person has something that makes them great, although some people make it a lot harder for me to see what it is. (I always figure it out in the end, however.)
  2. I am what some would call a “progressive Christian”.  (Whatever that means.) For example, I would not have an abortion, but I don’t want to deny any other woman that right.  I think that if I’m going to take a “pro-life” stance, it has to extend past the embryonic stage into adulthood, which means that women and children must be well taken care of if they decide to keep the pregnancy, and no one is cast aside because they do not fit what I think they should be.
  3. I am surprisingly okay with rejection. I get it. Some people do not like me. They probably never will. Whatever. This has made me a better, more accepting person than I was before. (If there is a misfit loner anywhere in my vicinity, I will find them and love them because those are my people.)The thing about facing rejection so much is that, when it happens to me, it’s more uninteresting than it is upsetting. (A case of, “Oh, this again? Lame.” as opposed to, “Why is this happening to me?”)
  4. I lied about not using paragraphs. Sue me.
  5. I like action movies better than I like romantic comedies. Jean-Claude Van Damme>Sandra Bullock. (Although, she does dramas, so she’s cool now.)
  6. I’m a theology major. I have no idea what I’m doing, but God does. Yay!
  7. My phone autocorrects ‘does’ to ‘Dostoyevsky’. I love Dostoyevsky because I am a nerd. (So is my phone, apparently.)
  8. I live-tweet my favourite shows. I do it mostly during Scandal and Big Brother. You’ve been warned.
  9. I had no idea that I didn’t know anything until I turned 30.  I don’t have to be brilliant? The pressure is off!
  10. I’m unusually confident for someone my size, and stature. I’m also stronger than I look. I blame/credit Jesus.
  11. One of my greatest sins is my snide sense of humour. I’m not funny often, but when I am it’s because I’ve said something mean at someone elses expense. (I know it’s wrong, but I’m trying to get better.)
  12. My family is a large one.  How large? I have blood relatives that I have never met.
  13. I am a pretty decent multitasker. Just ask anyone who has ever watched me read, listen to my iPod, and eavesdrop at the same time.
  14. I have excellent hearing. My nephew once whispered my name in another room, and I shouted back, “What do you want?”
  15. I like to observe people. I’ve written about this before, but I firmly believe that I find out more about a person by what they do, than I can by what they say. When a person does not know they are under surveillance, they are authentic. Once I know what they do when they’re unguarded, I can tell what they do when they’re pretending.
  16. I love to read. Between 2012 and 2013, I read 200 books. (I was too preoccupied in 2013 to keep track, but it was really fun. 
  17. I am not certain of anything in my life, and that is liberating.
  18. I write because I have to. I write to communicate with people because I can do it freely without interruptions.

Bonus. “I use Grammarly to check for plagiarism because, while imitation is flattery, flagrant copying is obnoxious.” 

6 Things I Learned About Life From Working

I know it seems impossible, but some of my most valued life lessons were not learned in a classroom. I left school very early in my post-secondary education to work. In the 14 years since, I found out a lot about the “real world” just by being an observer, and occasionally a participant. Here is a list what I have learned so far that I know will carry me through to my next stage of life.

1. Resignation letters are for resigning only. 

When a person leaves a job on bad terms, it is tempting to use a resignation letter as a final, “piss off!” (pardon my language) to one’s employers. However, the reason for writing a letter of resignation is to inform the boss that you are leaving. Do not call names, use foul language, or, heaven forbid, tell the employers how they should do their jobs. Even if you believe that your boss is far too cocky about being the captain of a sinking ship, it is not your place to say anything. You’re leaving, so it’s not your business anymore. Instead, say thanks for the opportunity and give them enough notice for them to find a replacement for you. Leave the airing of grievances for Festivus.

2. It’s not them, it’s you. Sometimes it is them, but mostly it’s you.

I didn’t really enjoy working until I learned how to take responsibility for what I did. That doesn’t mean I took the blame for things I didn’t do, or got involved in other peoples’ drama. I made the decision to take an unbiased view of what I contributed to the culture at work, and I found out that I am openly dismissive and unfriendly towards any person whom I think has a strong sense of entitlement. Which is questionable behaviour to have among my peers, and even worse to have towards leadership. In order to change the culture, I had to change my actions. Blaming everyone else for my reactions didn’t get me anywhere.

3. If you don’t hog the credit, you can’t take the blame.

I’ve always been a leader, but there are a few things I don’t do well; delegate and take credit for success. I’m not the attention-seeking type, so my first instinct is always to take whatever attention is paid on me and deflect it towards the people who helped me succeed. (Don’t get it twisted: there were always people who helped me succeed) I did this for two reasons: 1. As I mentioned before, I don’t like unnecessary attention, and 2. If a task goes wrong, the one responsible for the failure is whomever takes the credit, which is usually the leader. On the other hand, if the task is executed by a team, the entire team shares responsibility.

4. A person cannot motivate anyone he/she feels is inferior.

My parents both went to college. My mother has been a nurse for almost 40 years, and my father was an independent contractor who designed and built houses, restaurants, and apartments. My mother also worked as a  retail salesclerk, and my dad was a janitor. The fact that my parents worked in many different professions helped me to approach each person’s part with equity. I don’t think that the head of an organization is more important than the janitor. (If you think I’m kidding, just watch what happens when the custodial staff goes on strike.) Every person’s role is equally important, and when anyone behaves as though his or her role is more important than someone else, that person jeopardizes the harmony of the entire group. If a person is not relatable and down-to-earth, he or she cannot expect to be able to motivate anyone.

5. Personal feelings are best left at home.

Approximately 10% per cent of the time, I base my decisions on how I feel about a person. (My “gut” is never wrong) The other 90% I base on efficiency and outcomes. Like most people, I enjoy spending most of my  time with people that know and love me best. However, I also like getting things accomplished, and if given the choice, I’d rather work with 10 enemies that I know will get a job done, than 10 friends that will most likely goof off and be a distraction. I had to leave my personal feelings on the shelf at work because they inhibited me from being objective. In the end, I was more productive because I was more concerned with the completion the task than I was with the interpersonal drama.

6. Rewards are great, but it is better to be motivated by something other than what one may gain from success.

While I cannot stand unnecessary fawning and performance-based reward systems, I like occasionally to be recognized for a job well done. However, the lure of praise and prizes is not what drives my performance. I do a good job because I like to do a good job. I’m thorough because I don’t like to take short-cuts, and I work hard because I’m paid to do it. If a person places all his or her emphasis on the future reward, he deprives himself of the experience of the present.

I have learned plenty more life lessons at work; 7.Even if it is the truth, referring to a supervisor as a ‘self-important half-wit’ is always wrong. 8.Avoid the employee lounge if you don’t want to hear people complain about work. 9.Be kind to all customers, even the mean ones. 10. Stay out of situations that do not directly involve you, and remember that your job is a way to earn money. It is not your life, so do not allow what happens there to crush your spirit.

That’s my two cents.

Until next time,

Erie

Off The cuff Thursday: 10 Things Bullies Say

  1. “I’m not a bully. I’m just strong-willed.” (It isn’t wrong to be strong-willed. It is wrong when a person uses his/her strong-will to try to intimidate other people.)
  2. “I don’t attack people who don’t deserve it”–a.k.a. “He brings it on himself!” (Great. Deflect any responsibility for one’s own behaviour by blaming the victim. If a person behaves in a way that you don’t like, you have the right to abuse/harass/slander/assault them.)
  3. “He/she picks on me too.” (Obviously it is natural for a kid with no allies, friends, or backup to attack a person who has all of those things because he loves to be outnumbered. Right.)
  4. “I don’t know why it’s such a big deal? I was joking.” (Everyone loves jokes that make them feel small and inadequate! They’re hilarious.)
  5. “I would have stopped if he/she told me there was a problem. (Um…no. First, the person would confront you. Then, you would have made a half-baked non-apology for your behaviour. Once you were done, you would have talked with your friends about how wimpy it was for the person to make such a big deal about it, and then you would have thrown it back in the person’s face at the first opportunity.)
  6. “He/she is too arrogant. I needed to knock them down a few pegs.” (Arrogance always precedes a downfall, so your “knocking” another person down isn’t necessary. It is arrogant to think that it is. Check yourself.)
  7. “He’s such an easy target.” (Cowards and lazy people love easy targets because they don’t have to do much to chase them down, and they do not pose a significant threat. That’s just sad.)
  8. “I’d leave them alone if they changed.” (Translation: “Be who I want you to be, and I will leave you alone. I’m uncomfortable with people who are different.”)
  9. “Everyone else feels the same way that I do.” (Yes, but there was a point in time in which “everyone” thought that the earth was flat. Everyone may feel the same way, but majorities are often wrong. Hivemind, anyone?)
  10. “It isn’t mean if it’s true.” (In that case, people have the right to make fun a person’s weird facial hair, double chins, lazy eyes, acne, bad hair, bad teeth, absent parents, mental illness, dysfunctional family issues, annoying voices, and any other flaws/defects a person may have because “it’s not mean if it’s true”.  Got it.)

Disclaimer: I don’t think that bullies are necessarily mean people. Most of the bullies I’ve encountered over the years are usually natural leaders. They just don’t have the self-awareness or the confidence to channel their leadership ability in a productive way. Instead of using their potential for good, they use it for evil, and putting other people down is their way of asserting their dominance. Bullying gives a person a sense of a control that is destructive because it bolsters the bully’s self esteem by his or her undermining the self worth of another. That said, I have never met a confident bully, and as my grandmother used to say, “Fun catches up to you.”

Peace (and Be nice)

Erie

Off The Cuff Friday:10 Handy Tips For Shopping While Brown

No, that title is not a mistake. I have been alive for 32 years. With the exception of the time between my birth and 6 months (when I was ghostly pale), I have been brown for most of those years. I like being brown. I like the fact that I have African roots even though I don’t know where those roots came from. (Thanks a lot, slavery.) That said, from the time I was very young, I knew that my life as a black female would be different. Without going into detail, there are preconceived notions about me based solely upon the colour of my skin. This is especially apparent when I go shopping, where I am mostly treated like either a nuisance, or a petty criminal.  I am writing this post for anyone who has been surreptitiously followed in a store by a well-meaning, but misguided sales clerk. If you have ever heard a “code blue” to the section you were browsing in, only to find that 2 security guards rush to where you’re standing, this is dedicated to you. (For the record, I worked the sales end of a retail store for 7 years. Our old code to identify alleged shoplifters was “Max to multimedia” because we did not have a multimedia section, or a person named Max on staff. I’m on to you.)

In order to make your shopping experience more enjoyable for all involved, consult these handy tips for navigating the world of retail shopping as a brown person.

  1. Carry a small purse. If your bag is large, keep it closed and close to your body. (Large open bags scream, “I’m looking to jack your stuff.”
  2. Know what you want before you enter the store. If you browse, the store clerk will assume that you are “casing the joint”
  3. Smile and make eye contact with the clerks. Try to give off, “I’m not a thief. Really.” vibes. Appear extra trustworthy.
  4. Be confident, but not too confident. A too-confident brown person makes them uncomfortable, and the clerk immediately becomes defensive and attempts to put you in your place. Wherever that is. Probably a few ladder rungs below them.
  5. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask the clerk immediately. Thieves don’t ask for help unless they’re in a group and need to create a diversion. By asking for help, you are establishing yourself as a legitimate customer.
  6. If you are followed by a clerk or security guard, make it worth their while. Walk slowly all around the store. More than once. Stop every so often to make eye contact with the person following you. Smile each time. If the person asks you if they can help with anything, hand him or her your purchases and ask them to take them to the cash till. Or make them hold your purse. They asked. 
  7. Shop quickly. (Choose the items you would like to purchase and go straight to the cash line before the clerk has a chance to realize you aren’t going to steal anything. Bonus points if you pay with cash.)
  8. Be mindful of these two facts:1. No matter how much money you have, or how well you are dressed, brown skin equals broke a$$ thief in the eyes of many shopkeepers. 2.You did not do anything wrong. You are up against 200+ years of institutionalized discrimination, stereotypes, and misconceptions about your ethnicity. You cannot fight this alone.
  9. Do not show any signs of indignation when a store clerk reminds you of the price of something when you are shopping. All brown people are poor after all. Counter this by confidently (but not too confidently) reaching in your wallet to pay for the items. (Bonus points for paying with a wad of cash.) If you show emotion, it freaks them out because they don’t know if you’re going to be a Will Smith type brown person (non-threatening, affable), or a Lil’ Wayne type brown person (volatile, menacing). We all look the same.
  10. Be aware of the fact that, even if you follow every single one of these rules to the letter, someone will still deem you a thief because you have brown skin. Remember that you are not a thief, you are a customer, and you should be treated with respect.

You do look like a thief, however. So try not to.

Peace,

Erie

 

12 Reasons Why My Mom Is Awesome

  1. She’s kind and caring, but still manages to be tough as nails.
  2. She is protective without being smothering.
  3. She is brave.
  4. She is forgiving.
  5. She has many amazing talents and is humble about them
  6. She is wise and gives great advice.
  7. She is really funny.
  8. She loves without conditions.
  9. She leads by example, not domination.
  10. She is encouraging.
  11. She doesn’t think twice about rushing to help other people.
  12. She is a strong woman of faith.

I could go on for ever, but really, how much more evidence does one need?

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom ♥

Erie

11 Reasons I’m Not As Smart As I Think I Am

  • I have twice accidentally stabbed myself. The first time I was popping plastic packing bubbles with my utility knife and stabbed my own finger. The second time I stabbed myself in the eye with a cardboard box.
  • I am horrible at mental math. If you give me a piece of paper to work out the equations, I’m pretty good.  However, when I’m forced to rely on my memory I am bad. My brain does not speak ‘math’.
  • If I’m not interested in a topic, I don’t pay much attention to it. If I don’t pay attention to it, I won’t learn about it.
  • Occasionally I forget my nouns. In the past couple of years, I have forgotten the following words: broom, pricing gun, chainsaw, and hovercraft. I wish I were making this up. (To be fair, once a person reaches 30, he/she starts to forget nouns anyway, but it’s still annoying.)
  • I still have to look up words in the dictionary. Last year when I was reading The Brothers Karamazov, I had to look up the word ‘vouchsafed’ because I had never seen it before. (For the record, has three meanings: to give a person something in either a gracious or condescending manner, or to reveal something.)
  • I have a horrible memory when it comes to movie dialogue. Not that the ability to recall movie dialogue is an important life skill, but it is one of the few instances in which my memory fails me completely.
  • I am not good at picking up hints. I don’t read subtle hints. I don’t read overt hints. If a person is not direct, I will not pay attention to what he or she is covertly trying to say. (Either be open or be quiet. Even if, what you’re hinting at is painfully obvious to you, I won’t get it.)
  • I think reality television is entertaining.  Reality television is entertaining if you watch it properly. I watch because it is interesting to see how different people relate to each other in a variety of settings. It is also interesting to see how delusion plays a big role in how reality starts behave when they know they are being watched. Also, the way a person is perceived on a show is largely dependent upon how he or she is edited. When others control the narrative, how am I supposed to know what is real and what is not? (Answer: by watching a lot of reality TV. Every show follows the same guide book.)
  • A good portion of my spare change is spent buying high end make up. There are 6 major companies who are responsible for most of the make up we buy, with a few notable (and pricey) exceptions. I know that the drugstore stuff is just as good, but the high end stuff has nicer packaging, better fragrances, and a wider variety of colours. It’s not smart, but I like it.
  • I don’t know everything. This one bears repeating. I don’t know everything. There is far too much to know for me even  to scale the surface of knowing everything. I’m just going to continue to learn all I can while being satisfied with what I already know. I will never know it all, but I’d sooner be content with knowing ‘some’.
  • Also, I once failed a driver’s licence exam because I second-guessed myself and changed the 4 (correct) answers that would have helped me pass into the wrong ones. (On the sign portion I got one wrong. One.)

While it’s cute to be a know-it all, it’s a lot easier to be the one who admits to being ignorant. It takes the pressure off.

Live well, everyone 🙂

Erie

Sharing Sunday:10 Reasons Why I’m Not Qualified To Judge Anyone

In no particular order:

I am not a judge.

No matter how great I look in a black robe and wig, I am not a judge. If I want to judge others with impunity, I will need to spend a minimum of 7 years in a proper law school, and gain experience presiding over trials. Since I have not done that, I can’t judge.

I am not perfect.

I am full of flaws. I have a lot of good qualities, but my flaws and lack of experience disqualify me from correctly judging another person.

I watch questionable TV shows.

Think about it: would you, in good conscience, trust anyone who watches The Real Housewives of Wherever, to make an accurate judgment regarding your choices? I didn’t think so.

I’m biased.

I have a unique view of the world that is based upon my upbringing, my experiences, my beliefs, and many other factors. How I view the world shapes my opinions, and I cannot always be trusted to be objective.

I don’t have the right to judge anyone.

The ability to judge another person is not a right. Judging another person is a privilege and is granted to a person who has been authorized, by a governing body to do so. That ain’t me.

Because. Who asked for my opinion, anyway?

My opinions are important to me. My right to have opinions is important to me. I am thankful to be allowed to express my opinions. However, if I’m honest, I have to admit that not a single person asked me for them. The fact that I have opinions does not give me the right to express them (particularly in regard to other people) without considering what the consequences may be.

No, seriously. Who asked me?

The assertion that an opinion cannot be wrong is false. An opinion is wrong when it is clouded by ulterior motives. An opinion is wrong when its foundation is built on erroneous information. An opinion is wrong when it exposes a clear bias. An opinion is wrong when it is based more on my personal feelings than it is on the facts. All of these may or may not be at play when I express an opinion, so I should keep some of them to myself.

I don’t know everything.

Sometimes my judgments are based on hearsay, misinformation, and ignorance. I can’t make a completely informed judgment without knowledge of all of the facts. I will not pay attention to the facts if I am standing in judgment of someone. If I don’t know it all, I can’t judge it all.

I am not God.

Obviously. I should have started with this one.

Bonus reason: I am a Christian, and while we do judgmental better than anyone else, I’d rather live a judgment-free life, than risk drawing the ire of God.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.”  (Luke 6:37 NLT)

Peace,

Erin

Sharing Saturday: How To Be Confident (Part 2)

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.This is a hard habit to break, but once it is broken, it ends up benefiting you in the end. No one person is perfect. We all have issues we’re dealing with. Some are worse than others. They may look great on the outside, but you have no idea what that person had to go through to get where they are. I’ve heard it this way: “Don’t be jealous of anyone. I guarantee you, if everyone walked into a room, and dumped their problems onto the floor, when they saw what everyone else’s problems were, they’d be scrambling to get their own problems back before someone else got to them first.” (Karen Gruenenfelder, A Total Waste of Makeup) You may have issues, but they are your issues. Even though my issues annoyed me, tripped me up, and made me sick, I thank God for every difficult situation I’ve had to live through because all of them have taught me something. No one is better than you, and no one is worse than you either. We’re all on an equal footing–in spite of what you may have heard.

 

  • Help someone else.Treating people with kindness and generosity are two of the easiest and most mutually beneficial ways to gain confidence. Whether you contribute your time, a hot meal, money, or a word of encouragement, being a good person will make you feel good about yourself, as well as other people.

 

  • Embrace your faults. You are not perfect. You never have been perfect, and you never will be perfect. Your flaws are a part of the unique qualities that make you. I wouldn’t have developed into a confident woman if I didn’t make the decision be accountable for my bad behaviour. I am selfish with my time. I ignore people when I don’t want to deal with them. I am indifferent toward strangers, and I am standoffish with people I don’t like. I make snide remarks because I think they’re funny, and sarcasm is my second language. I give my unsolicited opinions without any regard for peoples’ feelings. I get snappish whenever I sense that someone is trying to intimidate me. I’m a know-it-all. I’m abrupt. I tell the truth, even when it’s mean and unnecessary. I ignore things that aren’t important to me. I am stubborn. That isn’t my entire list of faults, yet I can acknowledge them because I like the person I am in spite of all of my weaknesses. I know I will never be perfect, but as long as I’m alive, I can always keep trying to be better.

 

  • Don’t look to anyone else for validation. I have to admit: I have benefited from the love and affirming words I received from my parents as a kid. However, I eventually had to learn how to get by without someone holding my hand and telling me what a special cupcake I am. Not everyone you meet is going to appreciate you. Some won’t appreciate you at all. If you’re too used to coddling and affirmation, criticism– even when it’s constructive, is seen as a personal attack. Not everyone you meet is out to get you. Then again, they’re not there to validate you either. Since I can’t say it any better, here’s a quote: “Expect nothing for your generosity. Not gratitude, not fanfare. Generosity is not for your comfort… it is to soothe the ache in others.” I don’t know who wrote this, but it is dead on.

 

  • Recognize your strengths. Everyone is good at something. Each person on earth was born with a set of gifts and talents, and whether your talent is leading a team as the CEO of a company, or mopping the floors of a building, you are important. Too many people waste time trying to fit into professions that do not suit them. Once you find what your purpose is, you’ll be so busy trying to attain it that you won’t have time to dwell on weaknesses, either for you or the people around you.
  • Take care of yourself.  The inner dialogue of an insecure person would go something like this: “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not smart enough.” “[He/She is better than me.” “I’m a fool.” “I hate my life.” and on and on. To insist that you’re a confident person when your thoughts of yourself are mostly negative is a lie. In order to be confident, you have to believe you are worth something. You won’t acknowledge your    own worth if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself. Whenever I hear one of my friends put themselves down, I say, “Hey! Don’t you talk about my friend like that!”  Be your own friend by respecting whom you are. As a sign of respect to you, take care of your whole self. You only get one body. You would do well not to wreck it.

This list may or may not have been sitting in my drafts folder for almost two months. The reason: halfway through, I decided that I was in no way qualified to tell anyone how to be confident. For me, the road to confidence was a long process that involved rejection, ridicule, and self-doubt. I didn’t have any confidence until it was made clear that my life isn’t about me. I am a Christian, so any certainty I have is because of my relationship with God. I guess, the thing that qualifies me is that, I used to be insecure, and now I’m not. (Thank the Lord)  It took me 20+ years to accept myself for who I am, and I have no choice but to keep going. (Flaws and all!)

You will have to find what gives you courage, whether it is in religion, your family, or something else, make sure your faith is in something that will last.

Peace,

Erie