Monthly Archives: November 2013

Integrity

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02-20-12 © almagami

Integrity is a quality that I value greatly. It’s important to me, and something I consider frequently when making decisions. Especially choices regarding where I will spend my time. If I say I’m going to do something, then it’s important that I am true to my word and do what I commit to doing. It’s equally important to me that others behave in the same manner.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of integrity is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”

Here’s my quandary: what about integrity to myself?

A typical example of this issue is in my work. I want to do a good job and to be helpful to other people, however, I often end up putting myself in a position where I lose my work/life balance as a result. Periodically I re-establish my boundaries, but then feel the constant struggle of not doing the work that should be shared by others instead of just jumping in to take care of things.

As I continue struggling with this situation, it occurs to me that it’s really an issue of maintaining the same levels of integrity to myself that I do for others. If I say that I’m not going to do something, then I need to stand by that decision instead of feeling obligated to do it. Just because I did do something at one point, even though it wasn’t really my obligation to, doesn’t mean I’m required to continue doing it.

I find this so difficult to do.

Today I delegated several things to people on my team because anyone can do the work, not just me. I waited to see if anyone would take ownership, but everyone is so used to my jumping in to do it, that they wait and assume I will take care of it. Instead of doing that, I decided to assign the work elsewhere.

Baby steps.

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My Happy

Gelato in Rome in March..

..a child’s laugh..

..dog snores..

..warm sun on my face..

..an unsolicited smile meant just for me..

..hiking through ancient temples..

..looking down from the top of a mountain..

..waves crashing around me..

..a tender kiss..

..a gentle hand guiding me..

..a purr..

What will it be like when you find your happy?

waves on rocks

Another Lesson

I just got back from my morning walk with the dogs. 

Two walks, actually, as I have four dogs and have found it safer to walk them in groups of two than trying to wrangle all four and hope there aren’t any loose dogs. 

The joy of living in Phoenix. 

I came across a man down the street that is always very nice to us, and loves petting the dogs. The same man lets his three Chihuahuas out in the front to go potty, and if I have the misfortune to walk my dogs in the area they chase them and start biting at them. While it’s funny to have a 60-pound pitbull jump into my arms and squeal like a little girl trying to escape the tiny fangs of a Chihuahua, it’s frustrating at the same time. He can’t let them go in the backyard as he has another dog that growls at us whenever we walk by living there and he’s too aggressive to be around the little dogs. So instead, he risks the life of his dogs letting them go in the front yard unrestrained, as well as his neighbor’s safety.

Clearly this man loves dogs, and yet, he’s doing so many things wrong in caring for his own. In my opinion. 

I walked up to say hello this morning and he loved on my dogs a bit.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Not so good.” He replied. “I got into an accident yesterday.”

I looked at his car, which showed no damage, and looked back at him in question.

“I hit a dog in a busy intersection yesterday. It was just a little Chihuahua. I picked her up, and she bit me, several times. I raced her to my vet and said ‘Do something, do something!’ He gave her a shot, and said she might be ok. I spent $150 dollars, and then last night she died.”

He burst into tears.

“I love dogs. I love dogs so much, and I just killed one!”

It’s a strange dichotomy, living here in Phoenix, and one that I encounter frequently. Working at the Lost Paws sterilization clinics really brought this home for me. I saw people bring their dogs up to the clinic with a rope around their neck for a collar, in the back of a pickup truck in the scorching summer heat. They took their dog home in the same way, after just having surgery, to lay down in the back of their scalding truck. They would be excited to see their dog and clearly cared, but yet, didn’t know enough to bring the dog into the truck. 

Time and time again I saw this replayed, along with other similar stories of what I would consider neglect. On one hand, it’s heartbreaking to see animals who live in the conditions that they do: living outside in the heat of a Phoenix summer with no water and limited shade. And yet, when you talk with the owners, they often don’t realize that they have options. They do as they have always done without thought.

On the other hand, is it right for me to judge? 

I learned that sometimes, it’s worth a calming breath to take the opportunity to educate. Other times, like this morning, a thoughtful hug and shoulder on which to shed tears for a life lost is the best way to show appreciation for caring. Education can come another day.

Rest easy, sweet angel. Your life mattered.

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Downside Up

How we view our life and the many things that happen around us every day is all a matter of perspective. Sometimes taking a step back to look at it from a different vantage point is a great idea.

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My birthday has for many years been a source of unhappiness for me. When I was a teenager, someone very important to me forgot it was my birthday. I look back now and it seems a bit silly that I have allowed something so minor to scar me for so many years, but at the time and because of the circumstances surrounding it, this was a big deal and led me to view my birthday with the dreaded fear of being disappointed.

For my thirtieth birthday, I decided to escape the country and had a wonderful trip to Montreal with a good friend, where we got to celebrate both of our birthdays, only days apart. For most of my thirties, I followed this path of traveling for my birthday as then it would be filled with wonderful adventure.

I did the same when I turned forty, traveling to the islands of Hawaii to celebrate. It’s hard to be disappointed in paradise.

Last year, I decided to try something different. I invited some of my closest friends to celebrate with me, organizing a dinner and for those who were interested, an invitation to join me at a local blues venue that I really enjoy. I took a chance, and as silly as it may seem, opened myself to the opportunity to be delighted by my friends instead of running away and fearing that dreaded birthday disappointment that haunted me for so many years. 

It was wonderful.

This year I decided to do the same, and invited even more people to enjoy in my birthday celebration. It was such a wonderful occasion, being surrounded by so much love and laughter from the people that I share my life with. With one little baby step, I opened my heart a little more to those who matter to me, and let them show me that I matter to them too. It was amazing, and I’m so glad I took that chance as now I have more wonderful memories to enjoy.

I opened myself to the best that could happen instead of fearing the worst.

I didn’t make a birthday wish over a candle last weekend. Instead, I just let the wonderful feelings course through me of the light, love and laughter I was surrounded with: deepening my connections, and enabling those in my life to form new ones with other people who matter to me.

Connection. 

Sometimes it takes getting out of my safe space to really appreciate how wonderful my life is.

Gratitude.