Sunday, October 12, 2008

Life Is Not Fair..Teaching Life Lessons That Are Real..

Perhaps I am jaded; or perhaps I have a sick sense of reality and humor. But this past week found me perusing the children's book section of my local franchise book store with Jeff...As we wandered I searched for books to add to the "grandparent" collection we have started at the house for our newborn grandchild..Yes that is correct..I at the tender age of 40 became a step-grandma this week..yet another life change to get my head around..

But I digress..the books and subject matter were happy, politically correct, "feel good" "play fair" make it even kind of stories..take care of each other, take care of the environment, play nice, don't hit, don't fight, and make life "fair" kind of stories..Great lessons for kids..I get that...however..when do we teach them the real stuff? I too would love to live in nirvana 24/7. The reality is that someone is always going to be smarter, prettier, faster, and have more money then I. Someone sometime is going to be mean, cruel, hurtful or injure you. Some people get hurt, have illness and die. We have harsh realities in life that no matter how hard we try to protect and avoid for our children they are going to learn eventually..

I know people who home school their kids to "avoid" the realities of life in public schools. I know people who feed their children only home grown organic foods and no sugar..I know people who refuse to speak of ethnic and cultural differences in their home for fear of being "pegged" racist..I know parents who feel sexual expression is wrong and that "god" commands it happens only after marriage..

I don't know about you..but the thought of a generation of protected children puts fear in my soul. Naive is sweet..but when it comes to a nation in stress, financially, and facing challenges from third world countries where children are taught Americans are evil and how to kill at tender ages..I feel a tremor of fear that is difficult to shake..

I believe in parent choices..but as a parent I also feel it is my responsibility to fully educate my give them both sides of the equation and then my opinion and why I feel that way..I would love for the world to be peaceful and loving..but in my 40 years of life, and reading chapter after chapter of history I have yet to see human beings ever being able to capture this for all..We are after all humans..

The first lesson I would teach...that life is not fair..get over it..In my 10 years of leadership it is the reality of many employees that fairness is something they demand..but as defined by their rights..If it is "good for them" then it is fair...human nature to define it that way isn't it? Don't get me wrong, I strive for fair and equal treatment of employees..but as a leader, we have the right to discretion to weigh and balance that fairness. In situations of peer to peer confrontation it is not always possible to get the win/win..sometimes there is the perception of "unfair".

I often wonder where is it written that life is supposed to be fair? I ask that question of every person who shows up in my office demanding fairness be part of the equation..I ask it nicely..and I ask them where did you learn that fairness is part of life? out of curiosity..

In my own life of experiences, I learned very early life was not fair..If it were, I would have been born with two functional eyes, would not have spent my childhood in glasses, with a patched eye, unable to catch a ball..I would not have had allergies or asthma..I would have been thin, blond, smart and beautiful.. In retrospect if my mom had home schooled, I would never have learned coping mechanisms for taunting..i would have not learned to use humor and verbal skills to the level I have in my life..I would not have been taught that libraries are full of the world at my fingertips; and that escaping my small town existence could be done in an hour of reading..

Life lessons have merit..we need to recognize them for what they are to children...protect them, but teach them...allow them to learn from experience and discussion at a young age..not at 20 when they naively see the real world for the first time..

This grandma is going to make sure her grandchildren learn realities of life, along with the nirvana we wish it to be...but also..that life is what you make of it..use the skills you have to overcome the skills and gifts you have not been given..

Perhaps I shall write a book...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A New View...

"It seems to me...that external circumstances often serve as occasions for a new attitude to life and the world, long prepared in the unconscious, to become manifest." Carl G. Jung..

So the circumstances of my my life are once again being altered. 7 days after our wedding, my husband came home from a weekend training with the Army National Guard and announced that he will be "sourced" in the next 15-21 months.. As a newbie to the Army thing, he had to explain to me that it meant he would be deployed, as in over seas to an undisclosed location for a period of 12 months. Not exactly the honeymoon we had envisioned..Not exactly the circumstances I had in mind to start my new married life with...

I have had about a month to get my head and heart around this bit of information. A constant flow of thoughts come and go in to my mind, so much so that I have started a mental list of things that I need to be ready to deal with.. I have spent time thinking about the practical; bills getting paid, home repairs that will have to be done, dealing with decision making power for the stepson; thinking about his children being without their dad for a year, the grandson missing his grandfather for a whole year.

The bulk of my thinking is very self centered.. Will he be safe? Worst case scenarios seem to come into my head and at times take my breath away. What if something happens here, who will help me deal with it? I don't want to be alone for a year..the thought of being all alone; far from my family supports, working full time, dealing with a senior year and the needs of his children and my own son, but who will be here for me? I am somewhat angry about the circumstances, but I knew this going into the relationship that it was a possibility, I just thought we would continue to beat the odds..

I also think about him..He has trained for this, and dedicated years of his life to service to his country..This is the culmination of that training, and honestly it is something he wants to do. I understand that part of his psyche completely. I think about him there, alone, in constant crisis situation mode for 12 months..How will this change him? What will it do to him and how will that affect the "us" we have just started to create? I have jokingly told him that our "seven year itch" will be postponed as we will probably go through a second or extended honeymoon phase when he comes home..yet part of me gets that the horror of war could change his "attitude" and persona to something I don't know..It is the unknown and total lack of control that has me feeling so very overwhelmed by it all..

I liken this experience to what families feel when the reality of a serious illness, or injury comes into a life and alters the circumstances of their lives. I share this as I think about the families who I encounter, dazed, overwhelmed, not knowing how the change in their life could happen, and dealing with the unknown of it all comes crashing down around them as they deal with the choice of placing a loved one in a permanent long term care setting, or they deal with the choices of care giving..In a moments notice the path,the course the expected becomes null and void; replaced by so many questions, unknowns and what ifs...

As a caregiver leader, I can give lip service to the feeling, I can talk about the knowns from my side of the desk..But until one is faced with a set of life altering circumstances; we cannot begin to understand the emotion, the loss of control,the thoughts and anxiety that comes with it..

So the circumstances presented to us have left me with a new attitude and appreciation for so many things..Simple time spent as a family, recognizing the daily gifts I have been given, how great my life has been blessed, and that happiness is a self dependent emotion that I chose to put in my life everyday..

I shall keep you posted on the circumstances of my life as they progress..for right now the attitude is about getting through the day with a smile, focus and a renewed recognition of what families feel when they deal with me as a caregiver...I get it...