Sunday, April 13, 2008


I've usually define integrity simply: doing what you say you will do. I, therefore, am often quite hard on myself about this quality. I chronically overbook, I chronically and with the very best of intentions commit to things and then cannot, truly cannot, complete them. I've scolded myself about this far too often to think it's just a habit I can break. It's something else - some desire not to miss things, not to miss experiences or opportunities to help or share or laugh - or dance. But the net result is the same. I manage to complete the truly necessary things, but I often let smaller commitments fall.

This is why, I think, that in times of stress I often withdraw. Because I am almost pathologically unable to ask for help, and worse - unable to not offer my help to others (illogical, you say? nah, see, my stresses are always, in my own mind, short-term - I'll be "over it" in a few days, week at the most). So, sometimes I think I should try to work on this, moderate it a bit, tinker with the uhm...intensity, maybe. But, frankly, this habit of not asking for help, and nearly always offering? It of the qualities that I most like in myself. It's more than habit, it's rooted in my core beliefs. I don't just have a "can-do" attitude because it is trendy, or because someone told me it was a good way to be. I have a can-do attitude because I am a freaking, bloody, battered, against-all-proof-to-the-contrary optimist. I talk tough sometimes, and I often plan for the worst, but at the end of the day? I believe most things, most important things, can be done, and that more to the point, I am wearing the boots to get them done.

But still. I grow weary of apologizing for missing small things that ARE important, but not AS important as whatever crisis reared up. I grow weary of withdrawing instead of saying "I'm up to my ass in alligators, but I want to see you so you can remind me I'm worth knowing - 15 minutes, coffee shop?"

So. I've been checked out again for...when's the last time I posted here? I'm not apologizing, more announcing.

Since then I visited my family in Michigan, which was fantastic. My arrival was strange, and all weekend we laughed about the line "you have a beautiful mouth" - but it was NOT an omen. My sister's girls are smiling and lovely and have all found appropriately great (no pressure, Luke and Mike...great for the moment is fine, too) men. Rachel and John have a beautiful baby! My brother's family is growing, and it was fantastic to see them, too. We played euchre and ate great food and talked, talked, talked. At one point on Friday night, Mike (not-my-brother-but-Allison's-amour) said he loved how noisy it was. I laughed, and said "talk to me in three hours." Almost clockwork, we're sitting at the kitchen table in a LIVELY game of euchre (it's for the honor and the glory in my family, not mere money), and he said "it's so loud I literally can't hear myself think." So then he learned my secret - talking UNDER the cacophony. It's served me well my entire life. :) My nephew Andrew told me inappropriate jokes he found on the net, so inappropriate I was afraid I'd be sent home in shame. It's a family that's meddling and loving both, in sometimes equal measures. It was very good, VERY good, to be home.

I finished the big rollout at work, which was a nail-biting success. It's not perfect, but it's quite awesome. I took a different job at the same company, one back in IT as a Senior Technology Analyst. I'm excited about the reason the position was created - to solve a messy problem. I'm wearing the boots.... :) More money, good experience.

It's been a hard time, though, with many demands. So tonight, I was watching a television program, Paul McKenna's "I Can Make You Thin!" and most of the program's content was on the topic of negative self-image, negative self-talk, what I used to call "old tapes" (those voices from your past that you let in your head, the ones who tell you all the ways you don't measure up). I don't have a lot of negative self-talk. I'm not a person who will call myself names, for example. Please, the world does enough of that. But damn, I do love watching people learn to stop doing that. But one exercise McKenna did tonight hit a nerve. He said to think of someone who loves and respects you, then imagine that person in front of you - get into their head and look AT yourself. What do they see?

I've certainly given that advice to a lot of people, often women at a shelter where I sometimes volunteer, or people (often women) I've coached over the years as a mentor or manager. Here is the thing: I need to try to do it for myself. Because I know that I don't see the me that those who love and respect me see. I'm surprised by who they see.

So, I see a woman who overcommits, can't live up to her commitments, and risks her integrity. Others with gentler eyes see a woman who does a lot, both in the sense of being productive and in the sense of giving. Writing that makes me blush. But I promised someone I love that I would write it here, and make it part of my permanent record, so to speak.

Love and gentle thoughts to us all. It is Spring in my valley, early and cold, but here.

~ Patti