Thursday, November 29, 2007

Damaged Goods

So I went into my second therapy appointment on Tuesday after work feeling a little cocky. I had just had a wonderful week off work with girl time and family time, got some distance and perspective, have been feeling great and generally had a positive attitude. Thought I would walk in, we'd wrap up and she'd send me on my way to lead a normal, happy life.

The first clue was when I checked her business card and read "Psychotherapy". It sounded mysterious and scary as I read the word over again in my mind.

Then the session. She started with some routine questions that we hadn't covered.

Are you sleeping okay? Check.

Are you eating okay? Check (okay I crave sugar a little more).

Has suicide ever been an option for you? Um, well, now that you mention it I did attempt suicide as a teenage, then the tears and grim details of a 2 year divorce and custody battle mixed with emotional abuse.

I told her that I thought I had healed, that I've been in at least five years of therapy to make sure I healed. Then she told me that when you get hurt that bad, you never heal and that every new pain has the opportunity to reach into the hurt and tap it's strength and power.


It makes me feel like damaged goods, that I'll never be normal, strong, and healthy emotionally. But the therapist tried to convince me otherwise, saying that I just need to be aware of repeating patterns from that painful time in my life, when I was young and a victim. That right now I am relating to my boss as I did my mother.

Boss - Are you loyal to me? Mom - Don't tell you're dad our new phone number.

Boss - Unpredictable rage. Mom - Woke me up in the middle of the night yelling at me.

Me then - feelings of helplessness. Me now - A strong adult, capable of distancing myself from hurtful people and attacks.

Now I just need to learn to act on the me now and not slip into the me then . . .

Sunday, November 25, 2007


As I was catching up on the papers that had piled up while I was away, I came across the following quote,

We give thanks for unknown blessing already on their way.

I read it to my daughter and tried to explain the meaning, then I send the husband off with the kids and stayed home to mix up some kitchen sink cookies. On the radio came a show about working with toxic people and it was GREAT. Two books were presented and the authors interviewed, The Power of Nice and Working with You is Killing Me. Very inspiring, and I recommend the quiz to find out if you're really nice . . .

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Homework and Gratitude

Visiting Yertle and having a great time - friendship is the nectar of the gods!

Define my Job - My job is to filter information between my boss and my employees. That's the role of a middle manager. I am to determine what information is necessary and appropriate to filter down and what information needs to be filtered up. It takes a lot of judgement on my part and a lot of trust. But at the same time, no one can expect information not to be sent up the chain and the boss can expect some information not to be sent down. Meaning that confidentiality works down the chain, not up. This has been hard for me and I struggle as I try to build trust and get things done at a lower level. The boss can ask me to keep secrets, but my employees cannot, or can they? I'll have to sort that one out.

My Boss - My boss is a loose cannon. He is unpredictable and not easily managed from the bottom. He is selfish and covets, enjoys, cherishes and is fighting for his freedom and flexibility. He believes he is not accountable to his staff, only to his board. He thinks he is undervalued and has friends with considerably more income. He is jealous and wonders if he is "settling". He thinks he is brilliant and above all of this mundane, routine work that I do. He doesn't respect the position and the responsibilities that come with it. He is fighting for his job and in doing so, may very well lose it. If not, I may lose mine.

Gratitude - I am grateful for enduring friendships, including and especially Yertle's, that stand the test of time and ebb and flow with change. I am grateful for parenting advice. I am grateful for seeing other parents and gaining an understanding of all the stages I've gone through and are yet to come. I am grateful for quiet time, long walks, and getting enough sleep.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Computer Ate My Homework

I had a wonderful blog yesterday. It had my 10 minutes of homework on my job and my boss and I included a summary of things for which I am grateful. A full, rich, thoughtful 3 paragraphs . . . and then the computer ate it. Decided to simply shut down and start fresh today.

Define my job: I am the Assistant General Manager. The organization chart show me reporting directly to the General Manager. I have 6 direct reports for whom I am responsible. Currently one of those positions is vacant and I am in the process of interviewing for the position. I am responsible for preparing the interview questions, prepping the panel and conducting the interviews. Then I am responsible for convincing my boss that my first choice is his first choice and his decision. Any other way and his ego gets bruised and he feels threatened, but that's the next part of my homework. My job is to ensure that wastewater is treating in compliance with rules and regs, recycled water is produced and delivered cost-effectively, and all of this is done within budget. I review, train, mentor, motivate and discipline my direct reports as necessary, elevating issues to my boss as appropriate. Of course, "appropriate" is typically a guess and constantly being refined.

Objectify my Boss: My boss is a vain man with perfect hair, a set jaw, and a physically fit physique. He rarely has a hair out of place, is tan, and loves to surf. He tells the story with a little pride of how he was late to Christmas morning at his own home with his own wife and kids because the waves were just too perfect. He is selfish, self-centered and egotistical. With all due respect to single moms out there, he married a single mom who has an abusive father and an ex-husband who was terrible. She still doesn't have a relationship with her father. I believe my boss picked her because she will not hold him to a high standard and likely withers when challenged. She is a stay at home mom and fixes his meals and keeps his house. When we have potlucks, she is the one who prepares the dish - very 1950's. He might be a little sexist, but I'm still sorting that out. He seems to think that there is man's work (capital projects and operations) and women's work (laboratory and administration). He at times assumes responsibility for areas (like maintenance), but then drops the ball, waiting several months to then express concern about MY leadership in this department. He does not follow through and has difficulty completing tasks, sometimes afraid to finalize things for fear of not being able to go back.

Things for which I am grateful: I am grateful for my early mornings before the family awakes - for my early morning runs and walks with my dog. I am grateful that I rediscovered yoga. I am grateful that my HR person convinced me to call for help and that the call for help resulted in me going to a counselor. I am grateful for my week of vacation!!! I am grateful for my husband's patience and willingness to watch the kids while I get some me time. I am grateful when I have the patience to be able to return the favor. I am grateful that my children's grandparents are all alive and that they have relationships with each. I am grateful for my self-confidence and inner trust, which I am constantly honing and refining - last night I went to a black tie dinner and wore a dress suit instead of a gown, last time I wore a gown I felt weird and didn't like showing skin or looking like the spouse, so I wore a dressy, feminine suit and felt great! I am grateful for my friends and can't wait to see Yertle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Draft Homework (Saved before the computer ate the rest . . .)

I'm adding a little to my homework today, at the end I'll write about things for which I am grateful.

Describe my Job - My job is to be a role model and to model the behavior I expect of others in the workplace. My job is to enforce the standards of conduct expected, from not gossiping to being accurate to being on time. My job is to train, mentor and grow my staff. To find what motivates them and help them find that motivation in their job tasks. My job is to do all of this while following the company policy and the goals set forth by my boss. My job is to maintain professionalism and to not escalate drama, gossip, uncertainty and fear. I am to calm those forces for a productive and peaceful workplace.

Objectify my Boss - My boss

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lonely at the Top

They all say it's lonely at the top and at the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, it is. I work at a small company and am #2 in command with all other staff reporting to me. That means no peers, no coworkers in which to confide. Only a boss and a bunch of subordinates. Lately I have been working hard not to say negative things, to my staff and to my peers outside of my company for fear of the gossip mill making it back around.

So, the drama finally got to be too much for me and with bottling it all up inside, I just about burst. I called our Employee Assistance Program, which is confidential, and they talked me into seeing a counselor, just so that I could have someone to talk to about what is going on.

She gave me two homework assignments and I plan to use my blog for this daily homework.

Number 1: Define my Job - 5 minutes a day. I am a senior manager responsible for the productivity, training and general work well-being of my staff. I oversee all programs and am responsible for quality assurance, accurate reporting and compliance with applicable rules and regulations. I am to be available to my employees, but also have some projects of my own. I am responsible for staffing, hiring and firing as required to get the job done. I report to the general manager and am responsible for implementing his vision and helping him accomplish his goals. I am responsible for representing my company in the community.

Number 2: Objectify my Boss - 5 minutes a day. My boss is the Boss with a capital B. He is approximately my age. He is small in stature, but extremely fit. He is a black belt and generally aggressive. He is the bread winner and father of 2. He is easily threatened and often feels like he is taken advantage of for being the "little guy" - this refers to the size of the company. He is generally good looking, if not a little bit of a pretty boy, and appears to have an inflated sense of his abilities. He is technically okay and feels most comfortable in these tasks. He is socially awkward and sometimes says inappropriate things in group settings.

Now I get to put both of those behind me for the rest of the day and enjoy myself.

Happy Friday!

Friday, November 9, 2007


Lately work has been a lot of drama.

I pride myself on dealing with the sticky employee issues that others avoid, but I wonder if I am spending too much time?

This must be why some managers simply pretend they don't exist.

I will try to meet them head on and with compassion and strength - I trust that it will pay dividends.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Children are from Heaven

So the bad news is that I had training in Thousand Oaks and spent 7 hours in the car in just one day. I did get about 4 hours of good training out of it, but what a long day!

The good news is that I got to catch up on some books on tape. One was about self-esteem, and I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember the author. The other was "Children are from Heaven" from John Gray, the same author of "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus".

He talks about the importance of compassion and leadership in parenting. Some of the areas he discussed that surprised me are as follows:

- Do NOT give children choices. Until about 10 or 11, children don't need choices and giving them options is actually stressful for them and erodes your power.

- Children don't need an explanation. Tell them what to do - they don't need to know why and telling them makes you weak.

I swear I've read in a thousand other places the importance of offering choices and giving kids a chance to make a decision on little things. Like giving them a choice of snack or what to wear. Gray says we should simply instruct them what to do. He cites an extreme example of the opposite of his advice - letting the child not wear a jacket to school and catching a cold. We've often strived to give choices on little things to help the kids engage and feel a sense of control, so this advice feels weird to me. Perhaps it should be "Go get dressed" not "Do you want to wear the blue sweater or green sweater?"

About the explanation, he again says that kids can't really reason until pre-teen/teen so that explanations are lost on them. This is despite the fact that the favorite word of most children is "why". I thought explanations were to help prepare them for their own decisions, but perhaps they are not equipped for that until much older.

Then again, we can give choices in other ways. Like we can take out the inappropriate clothes out of their closet before we tell them to go get dressed. Right?

Regardless of the minor points of the book on tape, children are gifts and I wholeheartedly agree that they are from heaven, so sweet and so pure.

Love 'em!