Tag Archive | #mujerevolving

End of watch

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Every four years or so, I go through a change. This isn’t only career changes. (The 3.5 year itch) It also has to do with the creative communities in which I participate.  The longer I am with an activity or community, the more familiar I become with it. The stars fall out of my eyes.  Familiarity allows me to see the reality of the people around me and whether or not the activity or community is contributing to my growth.

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I used to be on a TV show.  The first year I was in star-in-my-eyes newbie. I thought it was the greatest thing I had done.  I was happy to meet new people, to have a new social network, and to have a new creative outlet.  It was fun, positive, even with the complicated and tedious logistics of being on TV. My second year went well as I expanded my social network. I had gotten my bearings as I knew what was going on.  But I began to experience interpersonal drama. As with any close-knit community that spends lots of time working together, conflicts arose. Within the social circle, hierarchies and cliques formed. People expressed their affinities towards one group over another. The group became divided into factions along various lines. So being on the show began to go sour. By the end of my time on the show, I had cut back on the time I gave. I no longer made an extra effort to appear on the show. I had severed ties with several people with whom I had socialized. I moved on at a point when being on the show was still fun. I knew its time had ended.

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Years before that experience, I was a club kid for years. I hung with the same group of fellow dancers and followed the same DJs for nearly a decade. Of course, my life went through many changes, both personal and professional. While there were moments of drama, we were able to move past those. I have been friends with some of those people for over twenty years. Whenever we reunite, we recreate the best of those times. Our bonds are still intact. The love that was fostered has transcended time.  As I compare both these experiences, it could be that my time on the TV show wasn’t about fostering love.

As I grow within a community, my thinking begins to shift after the second year and definitely during the third year.  I see this as positive as it allows me to reflect. I evaluate whether my participation is worthwhile. When I’m no longer being the best version of myself within that social circle or if I feel that my creativity is being stifled by my own lack of effort, by social circumstances, or due to the leadership, it is time for me to move on. I understand when I have completed my growth cycle through a community and outlet.

Creative communities are called to foster love. Where there is genuine respect and love, problems can be resolved. But it’s important for me to recognize when an activity or community has served its purpose. I have grown and accomplished some goals. I am ready to move on to the next project or experience.

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Me moving on to new opportunities 

Killing the Girl

Game of Thrones is now informing my take on leadership. In the past, The Exorcist was a touchstone to which I always returned.  Game of Thrones provides food for thought in every episode. All kinds of leaders are in action, some evil, some righteous. Different decisions are made and some thoughtful, some poor, some made with the help of advisors while others are made by the leader on her or his own.  While it is a fictional fantasy and therefore full of extreme examples, the show does provide lessons to be learned.

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In Season 5, Episode 5, “Kill the Boy,” bae Jon Snow has become the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon consults the Maester because Jon trusts him as one of the few people of integrity to whom he can turn. The Maester is over 100 years old, blind, and frail. He is not vying for power and has been loyal to Jon.  Jon appreciates his wisdom. The Maester knows a lot about the world. He’s an actual Targaryen but he renounced being part of the noble family to join the Night’s Watch.  So Jon seeks his counsel on a decision he has to make. As a new leader, Jon has already been questioned about his strength in leadership. Even when he was still a steward, Jon was mistreated for several reasons. As a bastard, he is on the lower end of the social ladder. However, because he grew up in a noble family, he is perceived as a spoiled rich kid. Though the Maester points out that Jon did not need to consult him, he offers this observation, “You will find little joy in your command, but with luck, you’ll find the strength to do what needs to be done. Kill the boy…and let the man be born.”  I liked these words so much I scribbled them on a notepad and I now carry with me to work.

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Another part of the conversation between Jon and the Maester involves the response to a decision. Jon feels half the men will disagree.  The Maester reminds him that half the men already do. In leadership and in life, there are always people who are difficult or divisive, those who breed drama or foster negativity. People will doubt me or want to get in the way of change; they woke up that way (and not looking like Beyoncé either!) I will have to deal with those situations in a way that will sit right with my values and with who I am.

Recently, I was reflecting with a friend who is new to educational leadership. I had previously shared with him my ideal of leadership with integrity. I know the reality is going to be difficult. I know I will struggle to be assertive and confrontational. I want to strive for my ideal. I want to lead in a way that when I get home to my family, I will feel good about a decision I made. Feeling good doesn’t mean jumping for joy. It doesn’t mean I won’t hurt feelings or compromise my “popularity.” I’m not leading to be liked. I’m not leading because it’s easy. I’m leading for a greater purpose and that is to serve young people.  Whatever decision I make has to be one my students deserve.

Like Jon Snow, I’m entering a new phase in my life. I’m excited about being the Lord Commander and feel ready to kill the girl.

Goal met

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Over the years, I have been successful in attaining my professional goals.  I have been thoughtful about finding opportunities that match my skill set, my vision, and my goals. Then I pursue those opportunities. I have continued to succeed.

I began this piece nearly a month ago when I received a phone call following a series of job interviews. During my reflection, I spoke to the power of believing in myself. I used to doubt everything I did, said, and thought. I felt like a victim. Then I had enough.  I made sure my life would be different. It took many tears, moments of anger,  lots of soul-searching but I made it happen and will continue to do so.  I am committed to becoming the best version of myself each and every day. I owe that to my God, my family, and myself. I won’t ever go back to the way things were.

I know I will struggle. I will continue to experience doubt, anxiety, and fear. I’m not weak and I will not lose any fight. I will succeed.  So I am proud to say I got the job.  Now I can truly say I’m a leader.

Holiday

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Alleluia! It is Easter Sunday 2017. I am very happy to have experienced the Triduum and Lent. I had a wonderful journey, full of challenges that ultimately helped me grow as an individual and better understand my mission in being a servant to others. Today’s Gospel from John describes the different reactions of the disciples to Jesus being gone from the tomb.  Jesus’s rising teaches us how to live our lives. His rising helps us understand that hope prevails through the losses and challenges. God does not abandon us.  He will strengthen us.

My secretary and my mother in law both wanted to know if M had an Easter basket. I got some strange looks when I admitted I didn’t make her an Easter basket.(I haven’t done so since she was in diapers.)  In bringing up M, I want her to understand how important my faith is in my life.  We are the only Catholics in our small household so we share our faith. We are in Mass weekly.  We take part in Reconciliation.  We took part in the Triduum. We’re not holiday-only Catholics who only go to church on Easter, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Mother’s Day. We are there every week; I like to attend daily Mass when time permits. I take part in rosaries, the Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration when I can. Church is important to me and therefore the focus of Easter.  I asked M about the meaning of Easter. She said it celebrates Jesus’s rising. She doesn’t ask to color eggs or request candy but it’s not a priority.  I liken Easter to New Year’s.  At midnight, as we came home from the Carnaval royalty competition, M announced Alleluia. I want her to know Easter is the big holiday in the church.

I don’t mind being questioned about my faith. Why do I believe?   Do I live what I believe? Am I truly upholding those principles and values? What do I gain from the readings and from church experiences? My faith has helped me in my mental health journey.  My faith helps me be disciplined. I am a flawed person.  My being in church consistently doesn’t make me better than others; I am open about my struggles with pettiness, resentment, and self-righteousness.  My faith has helped me move forward. Following Christ is not easy but I will continue to do so because He has given me so many gifts. He loves me. He is risen!  Alleluia!

10 in 10 seconds

Both Father Ron Rolheiser and Matthew Kelly have reflected on the practice of gratitude in their work. On the Monday of Holy Week, Matthew Kelly discussed gratefulness as a spiritual exercise, mindfulness practice and way of life. We were asked to list ten people, things, or situations for which we are grateful. If I were to spend the recommended five minutes writing, I would have generated a list of 100 instead of 10. I wrote my list in about 10 seconds: My life, my health, my daughter, shelter, food, knowledge, faith, work, my parents, and my friends.

I practice gratitude on a daily basis. As someone who has taken part in various therapeutic approaches to mental health, gratitude is a key practice to overcoming anxiety and depression. Being grateful builds your strength, health, and faith. I’m grateful for life. I’m grateful for my good health; que bonito no tener ninguna operacion this year. I am grateful to move my life forward and to care for my health.  I took  my health for granted for many  years; without life and health, I could not enjoy the many blessings like my daughter, my family, my friends, new  professional opportunities, basic necessities like food, shelter, running water, clean air, human rights including freedom.

On the same day as the gratitude reflection, my staff at work took part in staff development training on burnout and self-care. It’s a theme we explore consistently. As folks in a helping profession like education, we preach self-care but do not always follow through. Our trainer went over major areas that indicate burnout. One is cynicism. That may be more damaging than the physical or emotional symptoms of burnout.  Cynicism taints your worldview and your daily attitude and behavior. I’ve reflected in the past on my failure to understand those who seem to be negative in every moment I encounter them, (My choice). Pero no es que no entiendo; it’s that I have rejected that way of being. I spent many years operating from a pessimistic view of the world. I lost many opportunities. Those losses taught me to enjoy my blessings. I will not ever live my life that way again.

It’s difficult to curb my self-righteousness. I empathize but I judge those who have chosen to live with negativity. As someone who has learned to manage anxiety, I fall prey to judging those who cannot or choose not to heal. It’s a vicious cycle. If you engage in negative self-talk and you are not working towards healing through professional help or spiritual direction or family, you continue to create situations that make you feel depressed or anxious. I know because I lived it. By shunning those who suffer from these issues, I protect myself.

I’m grateful that I overcame depression. I’m grateful I can manage my anxiety. I’m grateful to be able to change my mornings.  M and I are collaborating on a daily behavior chart which will assess how I’m doing with my tone of voice.  I’m grateful for faith, discipline, and for the lessons I’ve learned to help me become the best version of myself.

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Love as key to holiness

For Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday), my parish priest gave a homily about Christ’s Passion in the Gospel of Matthew. It was one of the shortest homilies he has ever given, approximately two minutes. He explained that Holy Week is not made holy by Jesus’s suffering but by his love and by the love we have for one another. It was poignant and important.

This Lent for me has involved my struggle with forgiveness, loving my enemies, loving myself, and fully expressing love for my child in the way she deserves. So often, dealing with other people or my own demons or as a parent, I get focused on all the sacrifices I make.  Given my self-righteous streak, I’m quick to say, “Look at all I’ve endured and done for myself, my child, and all these people.” I focus on the sacrifices.  Sacrificing for self and others is hard work; it is much more giving to sacrifice rather than be apathetic and walk away or to be angry and attack. Yet I lose sight of what motivates me to give of myself.

My best friend recently had her second child.  We were discussing how traumatic and horrific the birth experience can be. I know many women and families who were fortunate enough to have a positive birth; for the two of us, birth was painful, tiring, overwhelming, long, and difficult.  Because as mothers we love our children, we somewhat block out those bad memories.  Despite the 34 hours of labor and the two years she never slept through the night, M is my greatest love. The sacrifices involved in being her mother I would gladly do over again.

I have reflected often on the hard work it has taken to love and appreciate myself. It took years, effort, pain, and sacrifice. I want to love others in that same way.  I’m praying for more love in my heart so I can forgive my enemies. It’s easy to forgive my loved ones. I have to forgive those who have injured me. During Holy Week, I’m praying on and for love.

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For hire

0x600Twenty five minutes for 10 questions. Why do we expect potential employees to explain themselves and qualification and show their leadership potential with two and a half minutes per broad question?  It is difficult, even for someone who considers herself good with words, to convey who I am in a very short amount of time. It’s easy to look great on paper or to look good in an interview or a demo lecture. It’s in the day-to-day work that true efficiency and/or talent can be witnessed.

I have worked with people who gave great interviews and turned out to be terrible.  I have also worked with excellent speakers who turned out to be great employees. As with anything, whether it’s an interview or a first date, the outcome will depend on the people and circumstances involved.  Are you what the other party seeking?  Is the other party what you seek?  Do you know what you want and expect? Can you communicate those expectations? It is not an easy process and sometimes feels unnatural.

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I’m good with words but words have to be followed with actions. You have to live what you say. I know someone who is constantly promising all the changes that will be made. This person has not changed. This person is behaving in exactly the same way as usual. One of my professional mentors has pointed out that people always show us who they are. How do we react?

I constantly reflect on the difference between being proactive and reactive. We are always going to be reactive. We have to ensure safety so we are always going to react when someone’s actions are inappropriate, unsafe, or unacceptable. We have the choice to be proactive. From the first sign of problems, we have the power to decide we will not invest further time and energy into a situation.  I believe in second chances; hell, I’ve given people dozens of chances. As an aspiring leader, I have to decide if my workplace will be the land of a thousand chances.

As for me, I know that if given an opportunity, I will strive to not disappoint. If I make a mistake, I will rectify the situation. I stand by that.

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