Verbal Confirmation: You are Enough!

“You did a great job” and “Thank you for your hard work”.  These two phrases have more in common than I thought.  In general, it means that someone, other than myself, recognized the hard work that went into accomplishing something and decided to tell me.  The concept of seeking verbal confirmation is nothing new.  Seeking approval is something that is semi-engrained into our nature. Think back to being a child, whenever I was told “good job” I would continue to do the action that resulted in praise.  Much like a puppy: good boy gets a tail wag, happy eyes, and I do believe a smile.  Seeking the approval from others brings verbal confirmation and outside affirmation to a job well done.


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Life as Opaque?

Opaque is defined as “not able to be seen through; not transparent.” Often this term is used to define a style of tight or leggings.  They are not sheer, yet they are not solid.  They are somewhere in the middle.  Just enough to obscure what is beneath it; yet still letting the substance be seen.

In the world today, some have taken to having an opaque sense about them.  With a group of friends, at work, and with family; three different personas arise.  But underneath it all, there is the truth.  I know that I can be guilty of being opaque in life also.  I do not always want what is real to be seen by the world.

Case in point: My father passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.  The morning he passed, I held his hand, told him I loved him and that we will see each otherWedding soon.  Twenty minutes later I was at home brushing my teeth and loading up the car for an all day long hockey tournament.  For 15 hours I was the happy, funny, loving goalie mom.  Inside, my heart was breaking.  The amount of strength it took to keep it together is not something I would ever like to repeat.  15 hours later we were home. I broke the news to my son that his best friend and hero had passed away.  While my son fell apart in my lap, I remained calm and reassuring.  After he was in bed, I finally let myself fall apart. I was a puddle of emotions. Fear, anger, sadness, and a sense of loss that cannot be described in words followed.

To those on the outside looking at me on that day, I was the same.  Inside, I was a mess.  I made the decision to become Opaque for the world.  My son needed me to be strong, my husband was helping on the bench.  He knew, yet we were the only ones.  Instead, why did I not make the decision to become transparent? Even though my pain was real, the support of friends would have helped ease the burden that day.  I would have been allowed to feel the pain, yet knowing I was surrounded by friends would have helped.

My example might not be the best, yet I do feel that it illustrates how many of us do cover up our fears, sadness, and pain. We hide behind masks of happiness, fun, and the general “life is good” feeling.  One thing that I have accepted since his passing is that I am not as strong as I thought.  I need my family and friends. I need to know that it is perfectly acceptable to fall apart. Tears are part of life. The passing of a loved one is never easy.  Yet, it is through the heartache that we learn that we can be transparent, not opaque.  It is fine to allow myself to be me, flawed and imperfect.

My question to you is thus: what would happen if we became more transparent and less opaque?


A Jolt of impermanence

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Photo Credit: NOAA

On my path, one of the core teachings that I have struggled with is the concept of impermanence.  Everything is changing, thus any moment that one has had will never be repeated.  I have had that feeling on Tuesday of last week.  I was jolted back to reality and reminded that life, and careers, are impermanent. For almost five years I had went to work as scheduled.  I performed my normal tasks, along with any others the managers requested.  The sudden “normal” was taken from me.  Instead, I was jolted back to the fact that I would not longer have a career as of 1:00 PM CST.  A jolt is defined as “a push or shake (something or someone) abruptly or roughly.  I was abruptly shaken by feelings that I did not know I could possess towards my career.

For numerous years, I was semi-defined by the position I held.  I was not a manager, per-say simply for the fact that I had no direct reports.  I did however, see make sure that the day to day operations ran smoothly, paperwork was completed, and any other task that they felt I could handle.  Now, I am embarking on a new path.  One I started before the jolt of internal company-wide restructuring happened.  Life is what you make it. It is impermanent.  It is ever-changing.  Yet, who knows what is good and what is bad?
Simple take each day, one at a time, and follow the gentle (somethings harsh) ebb and flow of events as they come.


The Horse and Life

There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this:

Once there was a Chinese farmer who worked his poor farm together with his son and their horse. When the horse ran off one day, neighbors came to say, “How unfortunate for you!” The farmer replied, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.”When the horse returned, followed by a herd of wild horses, the neighbors gathered around and exclaimed, “What good luck for you!” The farmer stayed calm and replied, “Who knows what is good and what is bad.” While trying to tame one of wild horses, the farmer’s son fell, and broke his leg. He had to rest up and couldn’t help with the farm chores. “How sad for you,” the neighbors cried. “who knows what is good and what is bad,” said the farmer. Shortly thereafter, a neighboring army threatened the farmer’s village. All the young men in the village were drafted to fight the invaders. Many died. But the farmer’s son had been left out of the fighting because of his broken leg. People said to the farmer, “What a good thing your son couldn’t fight!” “Who knows what is good and what is bad,” was all the farmer said.

Much like the farmer, we all experience events in our life that we did not foresee.  For example, I was recently let go from my employment due to internal restructuring.  It was not only my position, it was company wide.  There are numerous people now without the steady source of income.  Yet, who knows what is good and what is bad? I know that I will be able to have food, shelter, and water.  I do not know what the future holds. I am open to new opportunities as they arise.

This parable is one that has stuck with me.  When assigning events in life as either good or bad, we are forced to keep them in the designated box.  We become tied to the “outcome” of the event.  Was it bad that I no longer have a job? Yes! Is it good that I am able to spend more time with my son? Yes! In this instance, who knows what is good and what is bad? The event would fit nicely in both boxes.

I do not know what the future holds, which can lead to anxiety or peace.  I can be at peace with the fact that while life was unexpectedly altered, I will be ok.  The reason for this knowledge: life is an ever-changing motion of ebb and flow.  Just learn to go with the flow.