Refuse to be Passive

A New Year

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Each January, people make resolutions– promises of things to change in the coming year. Inevitably, these are things that they don’t like about themselves, and view these resolutions as the solution to their problem. I

I will eat healthier. I will go to the gym regularly. I will stop smoking. I will stop watching so much TV. I will spend less time on Facebook. I will drink less.

This New Year’s, I made no resolutions. They just feel like failure before you even being. For two weeks, people struggle to diet, exercise, and abstain from their vices. Then, somewhere around mid-January, they fall off the wagon and give up.

A couple of weeks before New Year’s, however, I celebrated my 30th birthday. To say celebrated might be a bit of a misnomer. The day in and of itself was an emotional pendulum. I swung from thankfulness for the years I’ve had, and happy reflection on my blessings, to wondering how 30 years had passed, bemoaning the end of my 20s, and wondering why life hadn’t turned out the way I thought it would.

My biggest focus of failure was my lack of career. After all, aren’t you supposed to be settled into a career and making a decent income by the time you’re 30? I have no real career to speak of. I’m a baker at a local coffee shop, and while I enjoy my job, I just can’t shake that I am not a success. Western culture suggests that you’re making progress once you’re climbing the corporate ladder, run a department, own your own business, or have an important white collar job. I have none of these. I don’t have an impressive credentials either. I make the same wage as a teenager working at McDonald’s. It feels kind of pathetic.

Here’s the kicker. I chose this life. I decide that I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder or be stuck in an office cubicle. I decided to for go money to do something I enjoy. Do I regret it? Well, the lack of disposable income is occasionally depressing, but I find myself blessed with generous friends, affordable apartment rent (by my city’s standards), and the ability to live life without a vehicle, which is a serious money saver. Many of my friends marvel at my ability to live in a tiny apartment and live life on such a low income. Generally, this doesn’t bother me. Generally, I’m actually very happy with my life. I like living small. I like it because it reduces stress in my life, and because I know that my lifestyle is more sustainable for the environment than the average North Americans’. With the way the world is looking these days, I like knowing that I’m doing my best to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.

As I go into my 30th year, I want to take the life I’m living, and live it better. I prefer to set goals, rather than resolutions. I want them to be goals that will impact the lives of those around me in a positive way. I’m not too worried about numbers on the scale, but I am concerned to build healthier relationships. I’m not so concerned about money, as how I use my time. I used to think that by the time I was 30, I’d have it all together. The older I get, the more I realize that no one ever really has it all together. So for my 30th year, rather than getting it all right, I’ll take what I’ve gotten right and make it even better. I’ll add a few more pieces to the puzzle that is my life– fill in a few of the blanks. I will choose to live with intentiionality. After all, we only get one go round at this thing called life.

You may have heard this before, but I’ll say it again: You never see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it. I choose to focus on people, rather than items. At the end of the day, it is our relationships with others that allow us to grow and become the person we’re meant to be. Material goods simply trap us, and try to trick us into thinking that we’ve arrived. But the loneliest people I know are the ones with the most stuff. Don’t fall into that trap.

As I contemplate what this year will bring, I invite you to do the same. Let it not be a resolution that you break in two weeks, but a commitment to improve and be more intentional about the way you live.

Ask yourself these questions: What are your core values? What are your dreams? We’ve all heard the phrase, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” but now, define the steps it will take to get there. Little steps are the beginning of journeys. Like Bilbo Baggins leaving the Shire, you don’t know what’s ahead, but hey, it’ll be an adventure.


Work Frustrations

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

I’ve been at my current job for ten months now. My boss loves me, and in general, I love the people I work with. While the work isn’t exactly thrilling, it’s certainly not a bad gig. I work in an industry that for many people would be a dream. I want to quit.

Why, you might ask. Well, my current job has a tendency of putting me in awkward positions. While I am simply the office manager, I often wind up doubling as human resources. Sadly, I seem to be the complaint line, but have no power to implement change. For me, this is extremely frustrating.

Beyond that, I lack respect for how my current supervisor does business. Rather than nipping issues in the bud, he lets them fester until people’s minds are poisoned. However, upon sitting down with them, he has so much charisma oozing out of his pores that he can generally mollify and even make the person he’s talking to change their mind and see things from his point of view. If that doesn’t work, he simply reduces their shifts until they quit, or waits to find a reason to fire them. Basically, it’s a toxic work environment. I have no doubt that he could do that to anyone, even me, if I wasn’t such an integral part of the business. 

I believe in the place that I work, but I’m not impressed with how business is done. I want it to succeed, but I want to succeed on the high ground not by making decisions that are suspect and sweep the dirt under the rug. I don’t want to work in a place where the tensions run high because no one actually knows where they stand.

Beyond my boss is another senior staffer who is rather high strung. He has a tendency to blow issues out of proportion and is not terribly good at handling conflict. This is an issue when you’re a direct staff supervisor. Somehow, people always take offense to what he says. Maybe some business and communication classes would be good for him, as well as conflict management.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like both of these individuals as people. I just don’t respect their business ethic. I understand that there is a need to make the business a success, but your staff should be your core. They should be your biggest supporters, not those who get trampled under foot and lead to bad word-of-mouth.

Well, I’ll take it a day at a time. If it gets to the point I can’t handle it anymore, so be it. 

The First “I Love You”

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2014 at 10:19 am

I didn’t mean for it to be the first “I love you.” I’d bitten it back multiple times in the past month, not wanting to say it too soon, but knowing it was true. He wasn’t there yet. He’s still at the “I really, really like you,” point.

This past weekend we went away together on a church retreat with his church. The weekend turned out to be a bit of a gong show. While we as a couple were fine, there were other external factors that made the weekend a bit of a challenge. Two of the women who are dear friends to my boyfriend were being a bit cold and distant. One was also being a right stroppy cow when she did interact with him. Both women insisted everything was fine. Add to that, that I woke up Sunday morning with five bites on my chest, and someone found a bed bug carcass in one of the other cabins. Delightful. So now the entire camp needed to do bed bug prevention when they got home as a precautionary measure. Other than that the weekend was lovely—snowshoeing on the lake, board games with friends, worship sessions and guest speakers. In my opinion, not enough time for contemplation, meditation, and prayer, but the importance of that is another blog post.

Once we got home from the weekend, my boyfriend came over and we spent some time enjoying not being around people—we talked some about the weekend, and even went out for dinner (which turned out to be disappointing). Shortly after midnight, it happened. Stomach flu. Not to me. Just to him. He probably caught it off of someone at the camp. He is in constant pain, and has all of the regular stomach flu symptoms.  If it weren’t for the fact that its wrath occasionally lessens and he can ingest liquid, I’m sure we would have had to take him to the hospital by now for a saline drip.

So, for the past few days I’ve been taking care of him as he goes through this painful experience. He keeps on thanking me for taking care of him, but I ask you, isn’t that what any compassionate person would do? Isn’t that what a girlfriend should do? Thankfully, sickies don’t make me queasy. Somewhere along the line I learned to detach myself from the nastiness of sickness and see it in a somewhat more scientific and practical light. It is what it is. It’s part of the human experience. It happens to everyone at some point. It’s rather mean to be there for someone when they’re at their best, but leave them to struggle on their own when things slump. After all, the low times are when we need help the most. The low times are when we need people to care.

Last night, the hour was getting late. My boyfriend heard the alarm go off on his phone. He sent me home, citing that I would sleep much better in my own bed than on his couch. He was right, and so I rather reluctantly headed out. It’s not much fun to be alone with only your pain, and I didn’t want to leave him in that position. But he insisted. The time was running short, and I needed to get out the door in order to make the last bus. I gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the forehead. “I love you,” the words were a whisper, and I don’t even know if he heard them. I hadn’t been meaning to say them. They came of their own volition. I didn’t have time to stop and think about what I’d said, or figure out if he’d heard, so I just headed out the door. He didn’t even have time to say anything, and in all honesty, I preferred it that way.