The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Best

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Unsure of how to present my experiences as the host mother for a teen exchange student over the past few months, I have kept radio silence.  I want to emphasize that the following is about my path to self-awareness and personal growth and not a reflection on the student.  Yes, it’s all about me.

Deciding to do the right thing and take in an exchange student mid-school year opened an opportunity to learn a lot about myself.

The Good:  When presented with an option to step up and put someone else’s needs before my own, I did the right thing and said yes.  A Good thing!

The Bad:  Having all the responsibility for another’s welfare and no authority to make decisions caused me to question my choice to care for someone else’s child.  If this had been my child, I would have done things differently.  I learned t to keep my opinion to myself.  It felt like being between a rock and a hard place.  Bad!

The Ugly:  Resenting changes to my personal, financial and social life – Really Ugly!

The Best:  I’m still growing and learning.  I may not always like what I learn, but knowing what I know now, I would still make the same choice.  Perhaps I will be better prepared mentally and emotionally to let go of the bad and the ugly.

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Detours, Roadblocks and Speed Bumps

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The road to personal growth, self-awareness and enlightenment is not always smooth.  Here is a triptik about some of the things I have learned on my journey in the past few months.
detourI’ll be humming along on my journey through life and see the “construction zone ahead” signs and take a detour.  I find it appeals to my need for change and test my flexibility.  I have always considered my flexibility an asset.  No real lesson, just a pop quiz that keeps presenting itself from time to time.

I believe that if you do the right thing, you will be rewarded in some life, if not this one.  Pay it forward!  So I often choose to do what I consider the right thing.  Let the tough lessons begin.

roadblockSometimes I am doing the right thing on the outside but the voices in my head create roadblocks that must be dealt with. What looks like a selfless act is often negated by my inner attitude.  Aha, a lesson!  I will continue to ‘do the right thing’ while working on my inner voice.

audrey hepburnAudrey Hepburn said it well:

“It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. Others matter more than you do, so ‘don’t fuss, dear; get on with it’.”

 

 

 

Speed bumps are there to slow us down.  I suspect my speed bumps are there to slow me down and teach me patience.  I would go days on end and never take the car out of the garage.  Now I find myself out on the roads in high traffic times for anywhere from two to four hours a day.  It goes something like this: drop a child off at school, pick her up from school, take her to swim practice and then pick her up.  In between I will run errands, go to a part-time job a couple times a week and to my volunteer gig once a week.  All of this takes patience on the road.  Along with patience I am learning some less travelled routes that avoid the busiest roads and intersections.  With a minor child as a passenger in the car I am also working on my outer voice by not yelling bad things at other drivers.

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“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.”  Douglas Adams

And so the journey continues.

Accountability

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Recently my journey led me down a trail that explores the meaning of accountability.  I was amazed at how many sources used the word accountable in the definition of accountability.  Not helpful dictionary editors.  I found two definitions that work for me.

1.  Accountability – responsible to somebody or for something; an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility. (Encarta Dictionary) I might even switch it around to say ‘responsible for somebody or to something’.

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2.  Personal Accountability – Being willing to answer for the outcomes resulting from your choices, behaviors, and actions.  www.toddherman.com

Personal accountability is very familiar to me.  As someone who has made unconventional choices in my career and personal life, I accept total responsibility for my actions and behaviors.  I was able to make those choices because I have only been accountable for me.  No need to confer with someone or consider someone else’s needs.  Some of those decisions led to less than optimal results, but no regrets here.  Each decision has made me the person I am today.  I like to believe that the whole person I have become is greater than the sum of the parts.  With many more decisions to make, I am only a fraction of the person I will become.

Just over two weeks ago I made a personal decision to become accountable for someone else.  My last blog introduced Juli, an exchange student who is now a part of my life.  Each day I am accountable to her and for her and that has increased my personal accountability.

My life has more structure.  I set the alarm so I can get ready for the day and get her to school on time.  Sometimes I set an alarm on my phone to be sure I leave to pick her up from school on time.  Meals need to be planned for and prepared.  I get texts and emails from her school about schedule changes, homework assignments and whatever else the school deems important.  We are planning some sightseeing trips to enhance her visit to the United States.

Adding structure to my life to meet my responsibilities for some else has helped me add structure to meet my goals for this year and beyond.  My personal accountability has reached a new level by taking on the responsibility for someone else.

To bring this blog to a close, I would like to share a few quotes I found that ring true for me.

“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

“It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“As for the journey of life; at some point you will realize that YOU are the driver and you will drive!”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Congratulations, It’s A Girl!

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Motherhood came late to me.  At 60 it would be a miracle in every sense if it happened in the usual way.   Juli is a 15-year old Youth for Understanding exchange student from Germany.  She is sweet, responsible and very mature.  I would not have been able to leave my home country for an extended period of time at fifteen.  I was 58 when I went into the Peace Corps with the idea of being gone for twenty-six months.  We all know how that didn’t work out.

Juli will be with me until June 23rd.  During that time I’ll be taking her to school and picking her up, making sure she is fed, warm and feels loved.  When not in school she is on a swim team that practices six days a week, she’s making plans for prom and doing all the things your typical fifteen year old should be doing.

I hope to be able to show her some of the local attractions, enhance her experience in the United States and maybe take her on a side trip or two.

Welcome home Juli!

One Ringy Dingy

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We have all been on the customer side of a call center interaction.  Twice now I have been on the operator side.  In 1988 I took orders for Home Shopping Network (HSN) for about six weeks.  HSN was fairly new as was the technology.  Back then shoppers could only purchase an item while it was being sold on their TV screen.  Once the host moved on to a new product, the last one was no longer available for sale on our computers.  Imagine what it was like to covet an item, call in, wait on hold, finally get through to an operator then learn the item was not available.  That is no longer the case.  They figured out how to capture those lost sales.

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My most recent role as an operator lasted only two weeks.  After one week of training; I took calls from Kentucky citizens applying for healthcare insurance over the phone.  I enjoyed helping people find a plan they can afford.  Callers may have been on hold for hours, or called several times before, or tried to apply on line.  The least I could do was make the process as pain free as possible.  I managed to score an acceptable number on my quality screening and kudos from veteran operators.  My strategy was to talk to the caller as if we were friends, explain what I was doing during the process and have fun along the way, all while following the script.

I never intended to stay past the ten week assignment but unforeseen circumstances made it necessary to hand in my resignation early.  More about that in another post, but it is all good.

The next time you have to call into a customer service center, keep in mind the person taking your call is just trying to do their job, has a script to follow and may be scored on how they handled your conversation.

“One ringy dingy…”

Business Casual Attire Is Not a Fashion Statement

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I started a temporary job this week at a call center for Kentucky’s version of the Affordable Care Act.  “Business casual attire” was stated on various documents and in several places.  I was stunned at what I saw on my fellow trainees.  What exactly is business casual?

This advice from Virginia Tech for its students says it concisely.  “Business casual is crisp, neat, and should look appropriate even for a chance meeting with a CEO. It should not look like cocktail or party or picnic attire. Avoid tight or baggy clothing; business casual is classic rather than trendy.” http://www.career.vt.edu/JobSearchGuide/BusinessCasualAttire.html

A handful of people dressed appropriately.  Here is what some people wore to class.  Leggings with short sweaters showing us way more than we need to know about anyone let alone our co-workers.  Hoodies may be casual but not so much business casual unless you are a sports coach or gang leader.

Denim, lots of denim.  Most people sporting denim had on nicer jeans that would work well in a social setting, appropriate for casual Friday/Saturday but not business casual days.  One young woman’s jeans had those tears across them creating a shredded look.  What sort of business she thought she was going to work for escapes me.  If you would like to create this look for yourself here is a link that will walk you through it step-by-step.  http://www.parkandcube.com/diy-shredded-jeans/

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I can’t wait to see what people wear to training today.

Under Construction

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Welcome back to my blog!

I am currently reinventing my blog to reflect a new journey – the road to reinvention.  This year I will be examining what I have done, what I am doing and what I want to do.

My word of the year is Freedom.  Freedom from what you may ask.  That is a complex question with many layers that will unfold as I explore the road before me.

If you choose to follow me on the journey, welcome aboard.  If you choose not to follow along, I get it.  My personal journey may not be that interesting to you.

Mary Sue