Thoughts on Life and Living

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I agree with RLS….though with a twist…..

“The (wo)man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent (wo)men and the love of children; who has filled (her/)his niche and accomplished (her/)his task; who leaves the world better than (s)he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best (s)he had.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

The Jerks

I’m really tired of you……you joy stealers. Especially you who try to manipulate those I care about and make them feel less. Especially those of you who were sent by God to be their family, but also those who have pretended to be their friends. To put it simply, you’re jerks.

Yep, I understand that you are people to be pitied, though you would say that is not what you are after. You live life….sadly. Your purpose is wrong. You are making the world so much worse instead of so much better. And why? For many of you it’s a hellfire determination to manipulate and a lack of ability to live your own identity.

You look at the world with very dark glasses. You see darkness everywhere. You often don’t see that you are the one creating much of that darkness.

How do you know if this is you? Let me try to start a checklist. You may be a jerk if….

  • You were to weigh your conversation during a given day, and much of what comes out of your life is negative talk about others. Or the world in general.
  • You think everyone should think like you. Your experience, your knowledge, trumps that of others and makes you feel superior.
  • You act as though you have been given the role of the Holy Spirit in other’s people lives. You spend a lot of time trying to show them how wrong they are. (Note: God felt only one Holy Spirit was necessary. If you’re walking around a mere mortal on the outside of people, you’re not it.)
  • A lot of your time is spent worrying about the choices of other people….who they marry, how they spend their money and time, the dumb things they did in the past or do now, the friends with whom they associate. There are natural consequences to those things…..they don’t need you to fix them.
  • You feel acute embarrassment for the actions of others. Nope….it’s not yours to indulge in. Not if you birthed them, taught them, married them, introduced them, or told them. Yep….we all may cringe occasionally about the behavior of “our people”. If it lasts more than a moment, you’re probably going too far. You’re not them.
  • You bring up the same subject of contention each and every time you are around them. (They heard you the first time. Now you are Charlie Brown’s teacher.)
  • You don’t appreciate the good things about people. If you say you love them but can’t seem to come up with anything good about them? You don’t.
  • You’re passive aggressive with the people in your life. They “should” know what hurt you, bothered you, concerned you. You shouldn’t need to tell them. Or you have told them, sort of. Kind of. Well…..you shouldn’t need to tell them. Or it’s not worth the hassle. Yet you think of nothing else when you see them…and it’s obvious an elephant is in the room. But since you don’t point it out, they just feel something’s off. And that something is you.
  • You abdicate your responsibility to parent. Or care for your own parents who raised you with love.
  • You allow others to make your choices for you…and you blame them if you are confronted. They don’t like someone, so you don’t, They don’t agree with their lifestyle, so you don’t. They hate someone, so you do. They think you should make a certain choice, so you do. No grown up should ever blame others for how they treat people. It’s all on you. Even if it was their idea.
  • You judge others based on factors out of their control…or even those in their control that may be the result of a different life experience than yours. Their skin color. Their hair color. Their gender. Their family. Their sexuality. Their handicaps. Their political party. Their income. Their charitable contributions. Their religion, culture, or lack thereof.
  • You shun people for actual or imagined “sins”. This means you overtly or covertly stay away from them. It may be because they leave your church or their spouse or because their family member is arrested. Is it really the time to stay away?
  • You make negative comments about children. Or their parents. In front of them. Even if you spin it well and no one else appears to notice.
  • What you say you believe is not evident in how you live your life. You say you serve love, but spew hate.

You are the hateful ones. Your superpower is to make people cry and doubt they are a masterpiece of the creator. You never will change the world for the good….because even if you have a good point, the delivery of your message makes people run in the other direction. Sometimes even when they would agree with that point if you took a softer approach and both spoke and listened and tried to understand them.

Know this….you may think no one knows, but we do. We’re watching. Some of us can even treat you kindly, knowing you are a jerk.

I hope I stepped on some toes. I hope some of you may feel a pang when reading some of these things and take steps to change.

To those who refuse to acknowledge or make an effort to get better? We’ll be there for your victims. And yes….they are victims and you are a perpetrator. We will love them. We will be kind to them. We will gently lead them to work through their problems. We will remind them you are jerks. And while sometimes it seems that you rule the world, you don’t. Love and kindness will win.

And to those who have been the victims, you are not wrong. You don’t deserve what you have been through. Don’t let the jerks keep you down. They’re not worth it. Forgive them. That means release the pain of their transgression. Live your life with joy. That will be your revenge. Even if you’re not the vengeful type.

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Peter, Naked

“Jesus’ favorite disciple told Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water.” – John 21:7 CEV

We’ve studied this passage the last two weeks at church. I admit when the scripture was read, my mind started wandering. I was thinking about Peter, naked.

Oh, I know I was probably not the only one. Things tend to distract us. Especially the word “naked”….which was in the version of the text actually read. Probably pastors should include it every Sunday and attendance may go up. But then again, maybe the congregation will get distracted.

I started thinking more about Peter, though. Naked Peter.

There he was, out with the friends fishing. I suppose he didn’t want tan lines, or maybe didn’t want to smell like fish, or maybe wanted to annoy his friends, so he took off his clothes.

Then Jesus, “the holy one”, shows up. Peter, startled, jumps in the water. All of a sudden his nakedness was not appropriate. He was a disciple, after all. One of the chosen. He hid himself. Or tried. He wasn’t comfortable being that same version of him when Jesus was around.

Yet this was the same guy who was confused as to why Jesus would doubt the quality of their relationship. He couldn’t believe Jesus would question his love. Oh Peter, it’s in the little things that you betray yourself.

I’m a people watcher. Yes, I’m the one who watches you even sometimes when you think no one is. (Creepy? Maybe.) Those times are important…..because they portray the real you. Or a part of the real you that you try to hide from me. From others. From yourself. I have always found the inconsistencies interesting and it’s simply easier to see them when you are unaware. I don’t set out to “spy”…..I just don’t turn away when I see you.

Oh don’t worry…..I gather data at other times. When you know I am watching. What you say, how you say it. When you appear nervous. When you’re overly poised. When your story isn’t quite the same this time as last time you told it. We all collect not just what is said, but what your body tells us. Well, most of us do.

Because I am a data gatherer, I just may know far more about you than you think I do. Many people in your life probably do. That which you think you hide, often is not well hidden.

Oh, many of us will not bring it up. Often there is no reason. That which you think you need to hide, would not be a concern to us. That you feel you need to hide it? Far more interesting.

There are people who are different around me than they are around other people they know. Some would say that is natural. They don’t want to upset people by being something that would displease them, so they put on different versions of themselves. It’s the “polite” thing to do. It’s the people version of using their inside voice. They want to leave a certain impression, depending on your role in their life.

I made a decision years ago to try to live authentically. I’m nowhere close to perfect, but I try to live consistently…..whether I be around saint or sinner, rich man or poor man, liberal or conservative, president or peon. Because really, why not?

One thing I have found is that life is easier. If someone wants to disagree with me, or tell me how they think I should do or be, then they can have at it. I may choose to listen, I may not. But it happens far less than you would think. I’ve learned to pick my battles, so even if I listen, I may choose not to engage. I get to choose how to live my life and am confident enough in my choices that I own them.

This is not to say I have no right to keep things private. I get to decide this, too. But keeping things private and hiding things…..there is a subtle but important distinction.

Peter is known for denying Christ, even after saying over and over he would never do it. Did he really believe it, or was he just jumping into the water, trying to hide? I suspect a very human Peter was just a very imperfect man. Vulnerable…like us.

This other verse was part of our scripture today “ “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31-32

Jesus knew Simon was going to fail. But still, he had faith that Peter would still have a purpose, a ministry. He would realize the error of his ways and he would still (or especially) be able to help others.

Live naked. OK, maybe not without clothes. I personally plan to protect the eyes of the world and would ask you to join me. But when you feel the need to cover yourself, to appear as something you’re not, examine why.

One thing I know about Jesus……he could have handled Peter’s nakedness. I suspect he would have been amused by it. In fact, I think he would have preferred that version of Peter instead of the one prettied up and well dressed. Jesus, the son of God, sees you as you are. And accepts you, just as you are. But wants to use you anyway. Do not feel the need to jump in the water and hide.

As for the rest of us, we can probably handle the naked you. And if we can’t, maybe it is our problem?

Jobless – Part 6

“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.” – Richard Branson

So I had another interview last Wednesday. It lasted about an hour and to date it seemed the most comfortable interview I’ve had. Not that I have had any terrible ones yet….but some seem unnecessarily formal. These folks simply asked me to tell them about myself and then asked a few questions and told me about them as an organization. In my estimation this is the sanest kind of interview. How rattled do you need to be by those people you may be working with in the future?

This company stresses they want their work environment to be a family atmosphere, however large they grow (they are currently in acquisition mode and plan to be for some time). It’s a cornerstone of their culture. A lot of family members do happen to work there, but the company is also the result of the combination of more than one agency….so the family they talk about is the collective group of employees who make up the company.

This type of environment is very important to me. I’ve been on the other side…..where people talk differently behind your back than they do to your face. Where adults refuse to confront a co-worker about a problem, but undermine them when they are not around. Where you are discouraged and no one notices. Or particularly cares.

I’ve also had the other. Where “we” win and “we” fail. Where we may drive each other nuts on occasion, or get really loud during “discussions”, but bottom line we stand together. Where we tell truths and work for the success of each other.

So yes…..a true functional family atmosphere…..I need that.

I was headed to meet some friends for an early dinner, when I got a phone call from the head of HR at the company saying “Would it be possible for you to come back on Friday to meet again? They want you to make a presentation, then introduce you to some more people, then take you to lunch.” If I couldn’t do it then, they understood, but because of their travel schedules it would be 2-3 weeks before they could do it again.

My mind went into full out panic mode because of all the reasons this was not a good idea. One being I had volunteered to help at an over-the-counter drug giveaway a group called NC MedAssist (medassist.org) was doing in Statesville that day. I learned about this group from seeing an event invite on Facebook, and always wanting to know about options for the uninsured or others struggling with medical costs, I looked up their website. It seemed like an organization I wanted to know more about, so I decided to volunteer. (One great thing about being a severed employee is that you have salary coming in for a while. I am not someone who has the attention span to “make it my job” to job hunt eight hours a day, as I have seen some experts advise, so I am loving the chance to consciously do some good things with my time.)

I told the HR Director I would talk to the event coordinator for MedAssist the next morning and then let her know if I could do it. The NC MedAssist coordinator was incredibly nice about letting me out of my commitment…. even wished me well. So I decide to go for it. Sooner rather than later usually matters in job hunting.

Now…..the other reasons that it was not the greatest timing for me. First of all, there was the presentation. I didn’t see the email when it first came in (do you know how many emails you get when you are out of work?), so didn’t even get the instructions until the middle of the afternoon. So…..I get it Thursday afternoon and I have to be in Charlotte at their office on Friday morning at 9 to present. OK…..I’ve pulled together a lot of presentations at the last minute and though I had to make up data (they didn’t ask for anything specific except a 6 month plan review), I figured I could do it. But while I am used to doing presentations on PowerPoint, I don’t currently own it. A problem.

Google saved me. They have free apps you use for documents that I had heard about, so I dug up the presentation one. Using a new app isn’t what you want in these circumstances, but I had no other choice. Can I say I love Google even more? It was easy to use and was exactly what I needed. A tiny learning curve, but nowhere close to what I expected.

Then I had guys putting my new kitchen counters in. They talked a lot, and drilled and banged and were just generally noisy. Not their fault….that’s the norm. But it was not the best environment for preparing a presentation. I finally decided I had to wait until they left.

I had other things planned for Thursday. I cancelled everything.

And my printer. It wasn’t working….which I have known since I did my taxes last minute on tax day. I didn’t have time to mess with it. So I ended up having to go to Staples and get my presentations printed. Which meant I needed to work fast. I asked how many would be in the meeting and the HR Director said it would just be the same four who had interviewed me previously. I normally always make an extra copy or two when I make a presentation. This time I didn’t. Copies were $45 making just five. I had no clue it would cost that much. Plus the cost of folders. But not having that extra copy was a mistake. That morning when I arrived the CEO had decided to join us. The HR Director noticed my stress and said he could have hers. (They shared.)

It was fine. Instead of running it like a regular employer meeting, which probably was their intent, I decided to just work my way through the presentation and tell them why I chose the data I did and how I would use it in the meeting. I am one of the world’s worst when it comes to role play…..it was better for all of us that I not do it. I got through it. They continued to ask a lot of questions, even when the presentation was done. But was all fair and pertinent. I asked a few questions of my own. (There is currently no flexibility to work remotely on occasion. Tough where they are located now, though not bad for Charlotte, but a planned company move will make the commute longer.)

About 11:30 they said “Thank you for coming.” I guess the plan to introduce me to others or take me to lunch changed. They told me it would be about three weeks before I heard anything. That executive travel issue again. So I left feeling a bit flat. I called my recruiter and she got me to look at things a bit differently. I knew their schedules were going to be rough, so nothing to do but wait.

But late that afternoon I got a call from another recruiter about another job that sounded interesting to me. The recruiter said at the end of the call “I’ve talked to a lot of people about this job, but you are the first one that I believe is exactly what they want.” (Which sounds great…..but we all know it may or may not be true in that employer’s eyes.) So maybe the waiting time isn’t a bad thing. The search can continue. Options are good.

While I never really felt like I would be out of a job (because caring about what you do and being pretty good at it means you are immune, right?), I did listen to some good teachers in the past regarding personal finance, so I was somewhat prepared. This week I had new kitchen counters installed and also found out my house has termites. Big financial things that most would not want to tackle at this time. The termites are beyond my control…..that needed quick action. The inspector came today and I have the money to pay for treatment. He was a fantastic person, too, and the encouragement he gave was another gift of this season of life. He gets the God thing and laughed with me at some of the stories that have already come from this experience. (That treatment is getting done tomorrow. Goodbye termites.)

I’ve been putting off a kitchen mini-remodel for four years, because I was intimidated by the whole process. Having always lived in apartments or rental houses before moving here, I never had to do anything like it. Since a new job will probably mean a commute and little spare time as I get up to speed on a new job, I decided I wanted to tackle it. You know I like to challenge myself to face hard things. It hasn’t been bad at all….mostly because my family has supported me through the process and my brother and my nephew saved me a lot of money doing some of the work. When the full project gets done (I still need a backsplash) it gives me options….it will make the house more marketable if I have to sell. And I can enjoy it in the time I have left here.

I’m eager to get back to work, but I also see this as an adventure that not everyone gets to experience. I am taking it very seriously, but also my faith allows me to not give in to stress often. You know I love stories….one reason I am blogging about it all…and there are so many that come with something like this. I don’t want to forget the journey.

Plus it’s going to happen to a lot of you, too…..and I’d rather you heed my story and prepare not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually. It really doesn’t have to break your heart or spirit. I promise.

Jobless – Part 5

So three months of joblessness have passed. It’s a slow process. I’m finding that there aren’t a ton of jobs that I can apply for. I am not yet prepared for backward, but I also know I am at that awkward age with respect to work. I’ve worked hard to get the experience I have, but it’s not necessarily what companies seek. Who knew I was way more marketable when I had more enthusiasm than knowledge?

I used to come out of an interview and know what kind of perception I left them with. Now I struggle with this. Often those who interview me are younger and I’m not quite sure what they believe they need….or what they see in me.

I’ve talked a bit about recruiters in past blogs, but let me tell you a bit about interviewing. With a recent job I’m in consideration for…..I did a phone interview with someone in their HR department. It was about three weeks ago and it seemed to go well. She was encouraging and informative and it was a great time to talk about what I am looking for and see how it matches what they are looking for.

The day after the interview I did two tests for the company. They were incredibly comprehensive and a mish mash of things to tell them both what kind of job for which I am best suited, how I can be expected to fit in with people, and what my learning style will be in the event I am hired. It took over four hours….and I am a quick test taker. I still had not been told whether another interview was in the works and whether the results of these tests impacted it. I assumed they did.

When I say mish mash, some were obviously trying to determine my personality type. It was interesting, because how I answer those questions for a work environment are different than my “real life”. For example, in my “real life” I test as a strong introvert (yeah, I know some of you don’t believe it), but when the same things are applied to my professional life, the answers are different. I don’t act like an introvert at work…. usually. I’m usually in a position that requires I interact and bring people together, and get to know them quickly, Those relationships energize me when I am at work, and drive much of my purpose. I’m still an introvert, for example, but business small talk is easier than “real” small talk.

Then they had some sequencing problems, the first one that gave me a case of major anxiety. Sequencing problems, for those who have gloriously forgotten, are where they give you a set of numbers and you give the next in the sequence. Like 3, -10, 74, 128….you give the next number. Do’t try to work that one out….those are random numbers. But similar to the problem I was working on. Sheer panic hit me…it wasn’t simple. It turned out to be heavy in square roots, I know they said we needed to know this stuff way back in high school, but I didn’t believe them. I especially thought I was safe at age 58. Nope. 58, 116, 232; 464, …. that’s a real sequence. None I got were that easy. But so you can get one right.

Anyway, back to interviews. Most to date have been very rich in requesting examples. “What is an example of a problem you solved well and contrast it with one that you didn’t solve well.” I’m OK with these, but often I feel like my brain has dried up with original answers.

One company sent me stack of their reports to review. So how far in depth do you go with them? Do you totally invest and they get you working for free? I tended to try for giving several points of feedback, but not get too comprehensive. Enough to let them know I can be insightful, but not enough that I felt like unpaid labor. I didn’t get that job, so was glad I didn’t invest more. Would giving them more feedback have helped? I don’t think so.

I went through another interview that I felt went very well. I had to drive to the South Park area of Charlotte and interview with two people. A couple of days later they had decided not to fill the position. Discouraging. Why hadn’t they figured this out before they called me in to interview?

I’ve had situations where I went and interviewed and and didn’t feel the company would necessarily be a good fit for me. Those are difficult. It’s hard to get an offer for a job and turn it down. There just are only so many opportunities out there. I’m still feeling the need to be picky, though. The wrong company can take some of the joy from your days. But…at what point do I need to be less picky? And am I being too hasty saying no based on a feeling? A point will come when I may need to take something I am less than excited about. But so far I haven’t felt like that time is here.

It’s quite frustrating when you know you are qualified, or you know you could do a job well, and you get an early rejection letter. Not even a phone interview. But you have to realize that’s not the right place for you. Even if it is based on the opinion of one person….or a screening app on their computer.

I am still grateful for this time in my life….and spend most of my time taking advantage of having it. While there will always be moments throughout the process where I get frustrated, or scared, or confused, I’m really very happy. And even as I work through those negative emotions I know it’s all going to be OK. If doors keep closing, I will need to open my eyes wider and see if possibly God has other plans for me. Traveling the world sounds good…..

The Letter

“True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are balanced. A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.”- Tom Robbins

I’m an admitted procrastinator and nowhere is that more evident than in my stack of unopened mail. But this weekend it was the last few days before April 15, when annual taxes had to be filed and as part of that process I actually go through the mail stack to find needed tax forms. (Thanks for the Christmas cards, you guys!)

One of those letters was from the Red Cross. I have been a blood donor since I was first eligible to donate in a blood drive in my high school when I was 16. I have given ever since, admittedly sometimes mostly for the snacks when I was a poor college student (free pizza and peanut butter and jelly). I have been a platelets donor for 10 years or so, started because the Red Cross Center was very close to my work site in Winston-Salem.

While I love giving blood, I love giving platelets even more. Having had more than my share of friends and family members need them, mostly due to cancer treatment, I am passionate about it. I have blogged about it before. Yes it takes over two hours of your time, but it’s relatively painless and you get to lounge and watch a movie, and have snacks afterward.

Those who know me know my attention span and over time the folks at the Red Cross and I found the normal two armed version did not work well for me. Yes, I can forget that not just one, but two needles are in my arm. It never ruined a donation, but stopped a few prematurely and caused some “playing with needles” for others. When the Winston office got a one armed machine, they told me to always remind them I needed it. It took a bit longer to donate, but there was less chance for accidents when I had one arm free.

I have a high platelet count and could give a triple bag, so I was a welcome donor. Though every donor is welcome and needed. Platelets are liquid gold. Lives are saved because they are available. Though I have never had children, some people are walking around because of my blood and platelet donations. How amazing is that?

But this letter. It says I can no longer donate platelets. Something called HLA antibodies were detected in my blood. These are not harmful to me, but could cause a reaction called transfusion-related acute lung injury to the recipient. It can cause breathing problems or even cause death. To do more harm than hood to the patient..the antithesis of why I donate. It’s just one of those things…..they don’t know why it happens.

It’s been a crazy roller coaster kind of year for me, but this is probably the biggest down I have experienced. I’ve been able to donate more often than normal lately, and my great niece Sela and I had just talked about donating together again Friday night. She is 18 and went with me for the first time in December. Even walking away with two bruises arms (she had needles in both), she is ready to go again. That’s the bright spot….this special woman two generations younger than me is forging onward and will be able to continue to give.

I am still able to continue to donate whole blood or red cells and I will do that (it is interesting, and heartening, that this is an option). Still I am admittedly sad and disappointed that the “liquid gold” will no longer come from me. If you are able, consider standing in the gap for me.

Each loss in life appears to be replaced with a gift. In this season of disappointments and change to my life, I look with anticipation to what doors God will open next. Internally I am kicking and screaming a bit, but I am ready to transform as necessary. And grateful for the opportunities to live life well, but with a twist.

I guess it’s true that the only things that are certain are death and taxes.

Starting at 18……oh, the lives she can save!
The sticker from my last donation

I Ask

I’ve had to stop myself from becoming jaded to the allegations of sexual misconduct that pop up everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It’s almost too much to take in and it can make your mind weary. The court of public opinion (which seems like the only one that matters) has been loud and from what I can tell it’s a hung jury. But one thing I know……this behavior is nothing new….and we as a country have too often condoned it and silenced voices.

Thinking about this lately has taken me back to high school, when I was a state officer for the Future Business Leaders of America. We had to undergo all kinds of training on manners, and dealing with people in positions of authority, and how to handle ourselves in social situations. One session seemed to come out of the blue. At least to this naive girl. We were about to go to a large reception full of corporate people and politicians and our advisor gave the girls instruction on how to deal with hands-y men. Looking back I suspect that this came up because she was a bold woman who kept her eyes open and didn’t think that because someone wore a nice suit and gave money to high school programs, it meant they had pure motives. If one of these “gentlemen” came up to us and put his arm around us and didn’t immediately drop it, we were supposed to drop our hands down and step back….pushing off his back a bit if necessary.  A simple move that showed me I had power in these situations….and that if things made me uncomfortable it was not OK. Yes, possibly we were taught to be a bit too polite in handling it. But it was the first time it was confronted in my life. I found it worked, and for me it reinforced that I was in charge of my body and was not a powerless girl. (Most who know me realize that I would not have remained polite had the uncomfortable behavior continued. I wouldn’t have minded causing a scene.)

I’ve never been the overly sensitive type, and have usually been seen as someone who can hold her own, so truly I have not suffered much over the years with those handsy types and unwanted advances. Yes, they happened. Normally I dealt with it with humor and physically putting up distance and a loud and commanding voice. It has been more of a gnat on life for me than anything else. I know that just makes me lucky.

But I have way too many girlfriends who have suffered abuse. The number who have been molested and raped is staggering. In my sheltered world, these things just didn’t happen….until someone confided in me for the first time in college and I knew it was true. And then another did. And another. I have now lost count on the number of stories I have heard. I am sure that with as many who have shared their story with me, most have not. Many will never tell.

Of those who have told me their stories, some were naive, others simply duped. Some were highly intoxicated. Some downright attacked. Most of the stories would bring tears to your eyes if you heard them tell them. Most….yes most…..never prosecuted. There were various reasons why. Fear is a big one. Not just fear of the perpetrator ….though that sometimes existed….but fear of our legal system. Fear that they would be judged by a jury of their peers. Yeah I recognize they are not on trial, but we put them there, don’t we?And how do we not? We have to judge them as credible. So they are judged due to their wardrobe, their lifestyle, their behavior, the reputation of the perpetrator (because nice guys don’t do these things, do they?), their attractiveness (or lack thereof), the attractiveness of their perpetrator (because handsome guys don’t rape ugly girls, now, do they?), whether they drank that night and if so, how much. Read through the comments in almost any internet post about any person these days. Would you be comfortable having your lives judged by them?

I’ve told the story before of working in a children’s home as a housemother at age 21…..the girls I worked with were 14-18. About 90% of the girls had been sexually abused. Usually by their fathers, but sometimes by another family member or a neighbor. I remember a 15-year old, who had been abused by her much older neighbor, crying in my arms after the verdict in her trial was announced. He was pronounced guilty…..and his sentence was three years in jail. She said “He’s going to find me and do it again.” And this is another fear. You go against him, he comes back after you. When you know the violent side, how can you not fear? I tried to reassure her he would never hurt her again, but how could I know? How could I really promise her safety?

Another story from the chikdren’s home. A 15-year old boy walked in on his father molesting his 14-year old sister. Kudos to the kid….he beat the father up and called 911. His mother said it never happened and took the side of her husband. The daughter? Her feelings were complicated and confused. Yes, she agreed her father did it. But she thought it was wrong that he was in jail and she didn’t get to see him. Sometimes she resented her brother for breaking up the family. He was left pretty confused himself. It was heartbreaking.

Yes people are sometimes wrongly accused. I have known these people, too. It infuriates he, but I won’t say much about it now other than this…..you who falsely accuse people not only hurt your victim (sometimes for life because of that jury of public opinion), but you impact every person who comes forward to tell their truth. You put more doubt into the ears of those who hear the truth of others, because you lied. You are a match to kindling.

The thing about my friends who have been sexually abused….they are normal people. They are our friends. They are our family. Yes they carry scars, but many hide them well. But they are all around you. Some have done a lot of work to heal…..others still walk around in constant pain. Be kind. Be aware that you may not know everyone’s story and it may be the reason you don’t understand.

Today marks the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year’s theme is I Ask (for consent.) Seems like something that would be natural, doesn’t it? But so often it isn’t. Let’s encourage open discussions instead of assumptions, encourage people to know the judgment of their partner is not impaired when they make sexual decisions and that they understand the concept of age of consent. Let’s reinforce that both sexes have the right to say “No” or “Not now” and have that respected. Be someone who asks….someone who respects….and someone who understands when someone is not able to give consent.

Some statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center:

  • One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives
  • In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator
  • Eight percent of rapes occur while the victim is at work
  • One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old 
  • 12.3% of women were age 10 or younger at the time of their first completed rape victimization
  • 27.8% of men were age 10 or younger at the time of their first completed rape victimization
  • 20% – 25% of college women and 15% of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college
  • More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault

See why we need to pay attention? Don’t let yourself stay in the dark.

Victims, know that people do care. Know there are people to help you if you are suffering. Tell your stories, when you are able.

Jobless – Part 4

So it’s been since the middle of January since I had a job. Most days are still great. I know I am blessed to have this time in my life where I can regroup and start again.

Weeks like last week can be discouraging, though. Monday I found out that they had decided to not add the position I interviewed for the week before. It was one that I not only thought I would enjoy, but I thought I could make a positive contribution quickly. But at least for now that door is closed.

The rest of the week felt like I was in a hallway of closed doors. I just couldn’t find jobs to apply for that interested me. These are the discouraging times.

But as life’s roller coaster proves, down comes up. This week has seemed better. I applied for a job over the weekend and the recruiter called me on Monday.

A bit about recruiters, for those who have never worked with them. You have internal and external recruiters. Some large companies have people on staff who are their employees that actively look our for people to fill their internal positions. This seems to have increased in recent years. If I am applying for a job within an insurance company or a large consulting firm, for example, typically my first point of contact is with their internal recruiter.

External recruiters typically recruit for more than one employer and are employees of their search firm. In my world, they are usually the people who are going to be working with smaller insurance consulting firms or local brokers. They may also work with specialty vendors. Some work across industries, but most specialize in one.

Recruiters can be paid by the candidate or the company hiring the candidate. The majority that most of us use are paid by the hiring company, often at a percentage of salary for the person they place.

Anyway, the recruiter for that job called me and the interaction was atypical from those I have had with recruiters in the past. After a phone interview, she asked if I could come into the office to meet with her and possibly some of the other members of their team. Why, of course! I went the next afternoon.

Before I went I had to fill an application out for them (they had my resume, and while this duplicated some of that, it added depth.) I also had to do a personality test. I’m slightly fascinated by these, so was interested in how I would score. The test they asked me to do was the Hartman Color Code personality test. I’m a White. From color code.com, they say “White are the peacekeepers. Peace: the ability to stay calm and balanced even in the midst of conflict, is what motivates and drives these people. They bring great gifts of clarity and tolerance and are generally kind, adaptable, and good-listeners.”

I was a Blue for a free one I found online. Both descriptions seem to fit. I’m haven’t read enough to decide which one I really think I am. You have secondary colors that can impact. I hope they give me more information on my results. I think you can learn a lot about yourself and other people through these things.

The in-person interview was very comprehensive. The recruiter explained many employers want to know if they have met the candidate. Since I had never met a recruiter in person in my career (from what I recall), I am sure this differentiates them in their marketplace. They only work local.,…they specialize working for insurance related-employers in NC and SC only. The process was quite painless, mostly because everyone I met was so nice. I felt even though they are paid by the employer, they are very invested in helping me find a job. Believe me, that’s a good feeling at this point. Especially since I would prefer not to move (though working in Charlotte is good possibility and I have opened myself up to that probability.)

One interesting dilemma. I was working with another recruiter on a job that sounded to be a good fit, but my initial phone interview was postponed to a later date, yet to be named. I did follow up with that recruiter the next week and he said they would keep me updated on what was going on. It has been a month since I heard from him.

This new firm also has a relationship with that company with the open job, but because of professional courtesy don’t want to step on the toes of the first consultant. I’ve told them if they could get me a meeting, I would appreciate it. A tip to recruiters and those who work with people in this situation. We need progress reports. We need attention. It is a vulnerable time. A month of inattention is interminable. I’m about as loyal as they come, but don’t have the luxury of unlimited time here.

So now I wait to see what these new recruiters can do. I hope they are successful for me, not just because I’m ready to find something (I am) but they are nice people who seem to appreciate that I have a lot of experience to offer. Hopefully they can sell that.

As for me, I continue to apply for jobs I find online and procrastinate on putting the other info recommended by my career counselor online. The rebellious procrastinator. But that will happen soon. I will try anything that can help. Within reason.

Many thanks to my encouragers. You’re helping making this time a good one. And those in my industry who have sent my resume to people hiring in their companies or mentioned my name to people hiring, or who did those darned Linked In recommendations they said I needed…thank you for supporting me during this important time. While I appear to be good at being unemployed, I have have more years of work to put in until retirement. I am praying those years are productive, let me exercise my purpose, and keep me challenged and growing. I also want to work with straight-shooter folks I respect, admire, learn from, and celebrate mutual success. That makes Mondays fun.