Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: advice (Page 3 of 3)

OH the other snow thing I forgot to mention.

We have GOT to get some parking guidelines established. That was another thing we had in Minneapolis – snow emergency got declared, and you were hustling to make sure your car was parked on the correct side of the street, because that’s how they got stuff plowed properly.  You can see how this works on their website. And I can hear the whining already. WAAAAH I don’t know what day of the Emergency we’re on WAAAAAH which day is odd?!WAAAAHHHH well, call the waaaahmbulance (you can probably meet Crazy Cat Lady, she’ll share a ride) because it works. And yeah, if you ignore it, you get a ticket & can even get towed. But the streets are driveable. And that makes it worth it!

It Will All Be OK

..Ok, Go.

PensiveGirl tweeted this earlier today. I’ve watched it several times, and it is just one of those fantastic visual-audio combos that makes your brain hum, your toes tap, and your soul soar. They took embedding down, so you can see the video on YouTube here.

The song is called “This Too Shall Pass.” When the words were sung – “Let it go… this too shall pass,” I felt tears in my eyes, because it’s so simple. We burrow and fret and worry and panic and stress and rail at the day and the day..passes. And it felt like advice I got a few years ago, advice I couldn’t believe or accept at the time, from my dying father trying to reassure me that in the end, it would all be ok. I love him every bit today as I did when he was alive. I marvel at that in part because I didn’t think it possible.

And I still marvel at the power in sound and words that can evoke such feeling. With a marching band to boot.

Unsolicited Advice

It’s been busy. Between going back to work part-time, and having a huge cool freelance project, it feels like I’ve been juggling my time like old times for the past couple of weeks. But of course, it’s great. Friday, we had an awesome new business pitch, and we did a great job – rehearsing several times, hashing through our messaging points, constructive feedback and just a general coming-together …. let’s just say it was a nice way to do business and built camaraderie.

And through all of this, in the back of my head, I’ve been thinking about unemployment, and how it feels when you first become unemployed, and how it evolves, and things you need to do, and things other people should do when it happens to you. Because it sucks royally.  So I’ve put together a quick list of the core learning points I got from my arguably brief stint on the unemployment lines. I realize my experience is my own, and my time on the sidelines WAS short, so by no means do I fancy myself the most sage and learned person on the topic. But there were some things I was told when it happened to me, and I recently passed some of those on to a friend of mine, and if it can  help someone else, well, that’s awesome.

1. File for unemployment immediately. Do not pass go. Do not wait a couple weeks. Just get yourself into the system. If you received any severance, but you don’t know how much yet, well, just be honest and report everything you can. Your employer will report as well, but the process of starting your benefits will at least begin.

2. If you are receiving severance, get it in one lump sum. You may be getting paid for four weeks’ of time? But if you receive it all at once a week after you leave, you report the amount you were paid, and you’ll discover your eligibility kicks in sooner.

3. Get thee on the LinkedIn. Connect to everyone you’ve ever worked with. Change your status so people know you’re looking for work. There are different camps out there on this? But I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to hear from my client, concerned about my welfare and offering to help me network any way they could. Your soul will need these things. Network, network, network.

4.Get out of the house. I heard stories about some former colleagues who withdrew, just retreated and played video games all day. First off, I haven’t heard of anyone finding a job that way, and second, being isolated gives you WAY too much time in your head to get discouraged. The good/bad side of this vast amount of unemployment is that a lot of folks are in the same boat. Meet at a Panera (free refills!) and just talk. I made some new friends (or finally met my virtual ones) – pensive girl, a new knitting pal – and re-connected with SO many people. I had the time, after all! And it was heartening. To not feel alone.

5. If you know someone (or worked with someone) who’s been let go – reach out. Give them a call, drop them an email, just say “hi”. I had a couple people I shared a lot of time with in my job completely ignore me after I was gone – and even if I didn’t consider us great friends, per se, it would have been nice to at least have heard a “Hey, sorry to hear about this.” I get that there’s survivor’s guilt or you think your own job will be in jeopardy – but at the end of the day, we’re all people, we’re all human beings, and it’s nice to hear that you’re missed. It definitely changed my opinions of the ones who never said a word.  (Of course, there are going to be folks you don’t miss for a moment! So there’s a silver thread in that bit of truth…)

6. Accept that there will be bad days. Don’t beat yourself up for them, it’s part of the experience, unfortunately. We are one of the most ‘working-est’ societies in the world, and if you have a career you enjoy, losing it will feel like part of your identity is gone. You will question your skills, your last environment, try to figure out what could have happened differently, but the important thing is to pick yourself up, and keep moving forward. Even if that means standing in place for a little bit.

7. Get a recommendation from your existing employer as soon as you can. I did not do this. If they tell you it’s got nothing to do with your performance (as they told me), then by all means, get a letter so you have that as a reference.

8. Speaking of recommendations, ask for as many as you can on LinkedIn – because these will give you positive input and help you through those days of gloom and paralysis.

9. Consider career coaching (LandaJobNow.com is a great resource here in KC, specific to advertising/marketing folks) to help you with your resume and identify new avenues. I have a longtime friend at LandaJob who gave me some invaluable advice on my resume. As in, suddenly I not only looked great on paper? I felt great. In real life. Unemployment can leave you feeling like your accomplishments have been devalued – but they haven’t. You’re vital and have something to offer the right place!

10. If you can freelance, do it. Just keep an eye on how much you’ll make vs. how much you’re getting in unemployment. If you make more than you’d get on unemployment, you won’t get UI benefits for that week. (You don’t get to have both.) If you make less than UI benefits, the state will calculate the difference and you’ll get a portion of your normal benefit. Your benefits are supposed to cover you (marginally, granted) while you spend all your weekday time looking for a job. If you cut into that, it affects how much you get.

11. Don’t listen to people who marginalize you for being unemployed. Frankly, with 10% unemployment rates, those people should shut their pie holes and be grateful they’re not in that pool. But I’ve  heard stories of people being sneered at, asked why they don’t just go get any job, how do they like living off the government, living on the dole. Well? It ain’t welfare, folks. It’s not a huge amount of money, but in my situation, I couldn’t just go and get any old job at minimum wage, because that would have brought in LESS than unemployment, and I wouldn’t have had any time to look for a job in my field, let alone interview. Employers pay unemployment insurance, and this is all part and parcel of being a business owner in the US.

12. COBRA benefits. Right now there is legislation that allows you to maintain your health insurance benefits for the first 9 months at a greatly reduced rate. This is crucial and awesome. I believe you only have to pay a third of the regular COBRA rate. And this counts for DENTAL as well. My former employer didn’t even know that and we had a huge flurry of emails hammering it out because I received a notice from Delta Dental referencing the lower COBRA rate that I should have received. I had even done the math on whether or not to maintain the dental insurance, but seriously, just get it, as one cavity and your out-of-pocket goes way up and beyond the insurance costs, even at the open rate.

13. Common sense stuff – create a new budget right away. We shaved our monthly expenses down rapidly, and in the process, discovered just how much money we saved by simply not eating out. Not that we were dining out on the town with bottles of wine and four-course meals, but when you’re working all day, you’re tired, you come home and don’t feel like cooking – well, those $20-$40 takeout meals add up right quick. We dropped our subscription to the Star (which I confess I still miss, though I feel a little better about not amassing all that paper for recycling), went down to one movie instead of three from Netflix, I extended the time between haircuts, and scaled back on shopping and food choices. CostCo and Aldi’s were my new best friends, along with the sale flyer (online now!) from Price Chopper. I suddenly paused at the prices at coffeehouses, trading in my large lattes for a regular coffee, room for cream.

14. But don’t eliminate everything, if you can afford a little slush in your budget. One of the kind things my husband said to me very early on was that he understood and appreciated how hard I was looking for a job, but that in all of this, I should take a little time for myself, try to have a little fun. Another friend encouraged me to do the same thing. I went to a movie (matinees are cheaper!), and spent money on coffees and even went out to lunch with friends. (Oh, how many lunches I owe people, too. What a sweet, sweet gift it was, to be treated. At first I felt very blustery and insecure, absolutely nobody could pay my way, but I saw that it wasn’t the money I was rejecting, but kindness and generosity. So I accepted it, and look forward to repaying the gestures in fun and unexpected ways in the year ahead.)

If I think of anything additional, I’ll follow-up with a part 2. If one person reads this and finds some comfort and assistance, then it was worth it! Always start your day with breathing, and for that matter, end it on the same task. Hang in there.


When you’re a baby, a toddler (if you have good parents) much of your progress and milestones are rewarded with gushing praise. Clapping, their smiling faces beam at you as you drunkenly lurch from one foot to the next, taking those first few steps. Praise is showered as you  grasp a pencil in your hand, that what is so unfamiliar, and you carefully sweep the lead across the dotted line above and below, printing your name, the alphabet, your first sentences. The roller coaster of notes soar in their voices, hitting high and dramatic, as you read your first book, play a sport, learn something new.  On and on it goes, as you proceed into the world, learning, failing, trying again, with your own personal coaches who teach you, praise you, tell you that they’re proud of you.

And then it all sort of fades away. We grow up, and our success becomes measured in other ways. Are you married yet? How good is your job? Are you the favorite in your office? Do you receive a raise? Some places establish goals and financial rewards follow. Performance reviews are scheduled – the dreaded sit down, where nothing should be a surprise and yet so often is – they become opportunities to couch constructive criticism while highlighting the positive. Nobody usually applauds.

We learn to give it to ourselves, the positive self-talk, the pep talks, the inner cheerleader, the one who combats the inner demons, who so readily cling to any shred of negativity, as though that will become the true motivation for change. But when it is given, freely, and unasked for, when you’re 41, it is akin to finding the golden ticket resting atop a Willy Wonka chocolate bar.

When I got my job offer, my husband stood up, walked over to me, put his hands on my shoulders and looked straight into my eyes and said, “I’m proud of you.”

A week later, a really good friend of mine said the same thing on the phone. I feel like I’ve left those two wonderful pieces of praise on the table, looking at them from across the room, marveling at how they made me feel, somewhat afraid to even pick them up and tarnish them with my own fingerprints. I’ve had more time to think about them, and perhaps it’s all churned to the surface because someone congratulated me on my job and immediately followed that up by telling me I was lucky.

I’ll confess, I bristled a bit.

Is it luck? Does my accomplishment, do my three months of unemployment, so small compared to others, become diminished by luck? Is something deemed ‘lucky’ diminishing the work that accompanied the result? I prefer to think of it as good fortune, I suppose. I recognize what it’s like out there, I was just out there. I know people are losing their homes, and in far worse circumstances than we ever were. And I guess I do think some of those situations are very unlucky. Every situation is different. Every person has a different set of skills,circumstances, background and aptitude. And for the most part, in my business anyway, it comes down to who you know. And I networked myself like a hard core motherfuckin’ salesperson, as if my life depended on it, because in a lot of ways, it did. And it paid off. But in the background of all that networking, I was sending out resumes right and left, searching for jobs, having black dark days, imagining moving, leaving my home, friends, possibly working and living somewhere else while James stayed here, just to make ends meet. I know of some fellow ad brethren who are sitting at home and playing WoW all day. Giving up. Waiting for the job fairy or the bank to knock on the door.  I can count on one hand the number of days where I felt “ok”and didn’t feel like the earth was crushing down on my shoulders and that, somehow, in all of this, I had failed.

Last summer, in Bryant Park, a woman told me I had beautiful eyes. I felt like shit at the time, I was hot and sweaty, my boss had galloped off ahead of me, and like a million other moments in my life, I felt on the outside looking in. It brings tears to my eyes now, because it was such a kind thing to say. To a stranger. In one of the biggest cities in the world. Another friend of mine, upon meeting up at a coffee house told me how pretty I looked. I felt startled. Nice, but startled. I joke about preening and I’ll kiss the backs of my hands, like I’m a diva, but my diva days have been few and far between this year. I’ll be glad to close the chapter and ring in 2010, with a new job, and far more wisdom than I expected I’d gather this year. The bruises will fade, but the memories will take more time.

I lived my formative years with two huge cheerleaders (who also knew how to handily employ the stick, lest you think it was a cakewalk of rose petals and confetti), and then I went out into the world, unsure of how to give that to myself. Sometimes I still don’t know how. What I do know is that when praise is given – by someone you love, respect or are passing on the street, it feels good. Everyone should do it more often, because genuine appreciation and acknowledgment is soul-nourishing.

And luck has nothing to do with that.

Fired Up

It’s a challenge, when you’re unemployed and actually relied on your income for your life essentials, to wake up every day and explode with joy and optimism. The news doesn’t help – hitting you with mixed messages – GDP UP! Retailers are worried about holiday sales! The recession is over! Unemployment in Missouri remains flat! Meanwhile you network and apply for jobs and try to figure out how to crack through the HR Linebacker who arbitrarily (or not) determines whether (or not) you get to interview.

And then you meet people who give you The Look, when they hear you’re out of work. I think the only thing that keeps me from punching The Look off their faces is that I do understand it comes from a place of sympathy, but fu-uck. It rolls pity, despair and pessimism into a tortilla pinwheel of bitterness, and makes you want to cover all the mirrors in the house and wait for shivah to be over. (no, I’m not Jewish, but I could be.) Really? You, who are employed, are going to look at me like I’m Eight Belles and waiting for my overdose of barbiturates and think that’s gonna help? OK, obviously you do, so this is my Public Service Announcement to all of you: IT DOESN’T.

Ask me what I did, what I want to do now. Do you know anyone in your circle who needs those skills? That’s the best response. Give me your email. Send my resume on to them. (And for those who have done this for me, Bless You. You are heroes and on my Jen Got A New Job Party List. Yes. I’m optimistic enough that I have, already, considered the party I will have to celebrate once I’m re-gainfully employed.)

JWo caught the movie “Fired!” one day and told me I needed to see it. So I set the DVR, and once it was recorded? I let it sit. Because I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it – there’s a certain camaraderie out there among us all, and there are a lot of us, just from advertising alone. I’ve even made some new cool friends and reconnected with old ones because of the shared boat. But sometimes it can also feel a bit like salt in the wound, when someone gets to leave the boat, you wonder how/when/why/where your stop will come, and do I really want to watch famous comedians and people bitch about how they lost their jobs and have since gone on to fabulous Hollywood lifestyles? I’m not even trying to have a Hollywood lifestyle. My blog is as famous as it gets, and unlike some, I don’t pull down half a million or more doing it. So, I let it sit. And then, one afternoon, I watched it, and immediately wished I’d seen it sooner.  It really is good. And the biggest surprise, was that I found myself moved to angry, agreeing tears with none other than Ben freakin’ Stein, someone I consider to be waaaaaay over there (gestures Stage Right) from me on the political scale. So moved, in fact, that I transcribed what he said, because I couldn’t find it anywhere already, and by god, it’s passionate and I couldn’t agree with him more:
“The real problem is an ethical problem. It comes about when the workers are laid off, their pensions are terminated, their health insurance is terminated, and then the management reorganizes the company in bankruptcy  and walks away with hundreds of millions of dollars while the ordinary rank and file has been laid off, fired, their hopes and ambitions and aspirations destroyed and that is happening all over America and its sickening.”

“There’s something extremely unappealing, about saying we’re trying to stay competitive, therefore, you’re fired but I get a hundred million dollars.”

“It is disgusting, it makes me want to vomit that we have people in Iraq and Afghanistan laying down their lives for a just, lawful, compassionate America, and here at home the looters are running wild. That just makes me sick, and I think there should be a stop to it … it disappoints me very much that Mr. Bush, whom I like very much, is not taking major steps to reform the bankruptcy process so that people cannot put a company into bankruptcy, destroy the lives of the employees and then walk off with hundreds of million of dollars in stock, that is a very very bad situation.”

— Ben Stein, in Fired!

So, off I go, to check in at the unemployment office, where I will go through a ridiculous government-created mouse maze to prove that I am a real human being who is unemployed, because writing out my name with a two-inch pencil and turning it in to one person, who then sends me to another line to put my SSN into a keypad, and I’m directed to a bank of computers, where I’ll punch in my PIN, on the same website I can access from home, and wait 60 seconds for the computer to process my information, all of this will allow me to keep receiving my unemployment checks, which will tide us over until my boat stop arrives.

This time, though, I’m taking some hand sanitizer with me. And that, my friends, shows us that in every situation, no matter how mundane, demoralizing, or trivial, there are lessons to be learned.

It’s Easier to Hate Your Job When You Have One.

It’s funny …. when I hear people mutter or see them type “I hate my job,” now my reaction is to think, “Well, hey, I’ll take it, then!”

I know, there are horrible places to work. There are horrible bosses, horrible underlings, horrible clients, horrible projects, horrible factors, horrible red tape, horrible expectations, all sorts of horrible, horrible aspects that anyone can pick out and choose and stare at and find the fuel to hate their job. But just remember this: there’s almost 10% unemployment out there right now, and while some people have renamed it “funemployment”, by not really worrying that much and enjoying the forced break, there are a whole lot of other folks who would love to love your job. And your bosses? They know that, too.

I think the best interview answer I’ve given thus far in my going-out-and-interviewing process, is that I don’t want my first day at the next job to feel like the same old job. I don’t want to do the same thing again. I want challenges. I want some mystery. I want to feel my mind driven by curiosity and a creative spark, that there’s more to learn, do, think, feel, be. Having this time off has given me the perspective to learn that, and I’m grateful for it. But I also realized that I’ve never NOT worked for this long, in a really long time. In college, I had three-four jobs at a time, in addition to classes. Before that, I worked for my parents, and I worked every summer. Finding a job is full-time work in of itself, certainly, and it’s the ultimate in sales pitches. You have to deal with being ignored, being rejected, not even being considered, etc. I’ve maximized my network and all the connections within, and it still is an upward climb. I’ve also learned that the rewards must all come from within, because you cannot put your happiness into the hope each contact you make, each email you write, that each interview you go on may bring an end to this, since there are no guarantees, there is no glut of jobs and employers are taking their time to find their perfect candidate. Each week it begins anew, and you have to remain optimistic, because the alternative will drain your soul.

So when the fluttering fingers of doubt and fear and insecurity clutch at my throat, I look at my life and I admire the trees in their splendid fall colors and count the ways I’m renewed and growing from this “time off”. Because guess what? I can’t wait to love my next job.

The Best Show You’re Not Watching….

…. but you have a chance to catch it again, starting on Saturday.

Brick City, a documentary on the Sundance Channel, about Newark: the city, the mayor, the politics, the people. You will be riveted. You will see parallels to Kansas City, and you’ll see where we diverge. (Like having a passionate, gregarious mayor, for instance. I kept wondering while I was watching scenes with the mayor meeting with the police chief: does that happen here? And if it doesn’t, why the hell not? Why aren’t the mayor and the head of the police department AT the sites of the shootings, in front of the cameras, denouncing it? Instead we just get talking heads, relishing another if-it-bleeds-it-leads news night.)

Cory Booker will probably become a senator someday, and move on from Newark, he’s just that good. Which would be sad for Newark, because he cares SO MUCH about making it a better place. The world needs more people like him, like the Vice-Principal of Discipline at the school, like the police director. But at the end of the five hours, you will also be struck by how much needs to be done by the community. We saw a lot of parallels to the community James works in, a class full of freshman boys and they’re asked how many are being raised by a single mom. (Nearly all raised their hands.) Nobody’s teaching boys how to be men, so they join a gang, they have camaraderie and acceptance, they think that a life of violence is normal. To have to even confront that thinking, to have to TELL people, this is not normal, yet you watch the school principal do just this.

You can talk about how it takes a village – and it’s true, every bit of it – but the village has to be comprised of individuals who are going to step up and do the hard work. Monitor their kids and make them do their homework. Have consequences for bad behavior. Privileges taken away. It’s hard work, no doubt. Being vigilant, setting and enforcing boundaries – none of that’s easy.  But it has to happen, because very few are like Jayda, one of the other featured people in this documentary, who turned her life around and still had to suffer the consequences of her actions, years later.

It’s worth every second of your time. Forest Whitaker is the Exec Producer. Watch it. Episode 1 runs again tonight; the whole series starts re-airing this coming weekend. DVR it.  It’s on Time Warner Cable #285. Lots of F-bombs, FYI, strong language & violence.

The ol’ Pushme-Pullme.

I’m enclosing today’s Hazelden email below. Sometimes, I get these and they’re – meh. Too much God, too much 12-step, too much addiction, and yet I still stay subscribed, because there are days when they resonate like a clear bell above still water. I’ve grappled off and on internally with some things I don’t feel I can write about so publicly, partly because some people will think it’s about them, others won’t realize it IS about them – ha – and who needs that pressure when you’re already grappling?!  I started subscribing to these about 8 years ago, when my mother nearly died from alcohol poisoning (0.48 is a rather high number, eh?) and my efforts to get her into treatment at Hazelden failed. Wow, just typing that I saw the parallels to when I got my father into Mayo before he died. Sometimes I’m astonished by how much I grew up when I wasn’t paying attention.

Anyway, her birthday was Friday, and a co-worker was puzzled when I was getting advice on a birthday gift – “You haven’t seen her, you don’t talk, but you still send her gifts for Mother’s Day and her birthday? I don’t get it.”

I do it for me. There will always be part of me that loves her and wishes things were different. Instead of trying to change it, I’m letting it be. I take the actions that I want to take, send gifts because it’s what I want to do. Cutting someone out of your life is much easier in its definitive-ness; it’s a black & white world, much like rehab. You drink or you don’t, you have a relationship or you don’t. For me, that choice doesn’t work. Unfortunately, that gray area bears a lot of parallels to other friendships – things have changed enormously in two years. People I fought for and defended have turned their backs on me. Others who feel they gave me everything think I turned my back on them.  Because whenever there’s another person involved? Your ability to influence, work on or control things still only equals half.  And when the proportion of effort is out of whack, resentment builds. It gets easier to retreat, draw the line, say fuck-off, go away.  As someone who chooses not to live in a black & white world, I still do love labels and resolution.  But I’ve learned, unlike a moth to the flame, that seeking it doesn’t always work. So I am letting it all just be. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, yet I’m finding there’s peace in letting go. Not seeking.  Not tugging. In standing still, we can actually find and create direction. Peace.

Today’s thought from Hazelden is:

Stop playing tug-of-war.

Letting go can be like a tug-of-war with God.

Have you ever played tug-of-war with a puppy and an old sock or a toy? He pulls. You pull it out of his mouth. He grabs hold again and shakes and shakes and says grrrrrr. The harder you tug, the harder the puppy tugs. Finally, you just let go. Then he comes right back again, for more.

I have never successfully treated or solved one problem in my life by obsessing or controlling. I’ve yet to accomplish anything by worrying. And manipulation has not wrought one successful outcome. But I forget that from time to time.

The best possible outcomes happen when I let go. That doesn’t mean I always get my way. But things work out and, ultimately, the lesson becomes clear. If we want to play tug-of-war, we can, but it’s not an efficient problem-solving skill.

Faux Mailbag

Dear PlazaJen!

I think you are so great. You always have awesome perspective and advice, so I’m writing to ask you this question, one that has been troubling me for a while. I really like to share my life story with people, and sometimes, it seems, I get odd looks from OTHER people when I’m doing it. When is it appropriate to talk in excruciating detail about my personal life?

One Vital Reader,


Dear O.V.R. Cher:

Let’s start with the ball-peen hammer. NOT IN THE FUCKING POST OFFICE.  To the LONE CLERK who is working. Maybe this flies when there isn’t a line of three people behind you, but when even the clerk is sending you numerous non-verbal clues to wrap it up, move along, git outta here, STFU, then you need to just grab your shit and go. Call up a girlfriend, go get a pedicure together, go out to lunch, pour out your stories to them. Trust me. The stink eyes will cease. And you won’t feel like you’re in the starring role of a Greek tragedy, with the chorus behind you chanting, “Make! Her! Leave!”

Best of luck, and try to park your giant SUV a little better next time,


What "IN" Can You Throw Out?

I’ve had a burgeoning thought the past day or so, and it really clicked together last night before I went to sleep. We (peeps in general) spend an inordinate amount of energy on things – things that aren’t worth the energy. Some of this behavior is inevitable. Part of it is simply human nature. Another part of it is our past learning that trains us to respond, react, fret, worry, get angry. I started thinking about the words that I associate with fruitlessly expending time and energy: Insecurity, Intolerance, Indignant, Inferiority, Indecisive, Inconsiderate. There are also a bunch of “In” words that are positive, inspirational, as it were: Insightful, Interesting, Independence, Integrity, Intellectual.

Insecurity is a huge one, and it’s not something I think is realistic to say, “Today? I throw away Insecurity.” Obviously it can be managed, and that’s what I’m talking about – recognizing when some energy-sucking behavior rears its ugly head, and instead of letting it drive the bus, we put it back in its cage. For me, it’s Indignant. I spend a :lot: of time being indignant. Hell, half my blog entries about other drivers are derived from righteous indignation. But that’s exactly what made it click for me – I had a guy weaving in and out of traffic, cutting me & other drivers off, in general endangering himself and everyone in his path, and instead of screaming at him, I thought, “Wow. I hope he gets a ticket before he kills himself.” Now. Lest you think the aliens came to Kansas City and replaced half my brain with oatmeal, don’t think I’m going to stop screeching at idiots. Sometimes it’s simply therapeutic!

I’ve had some work situations, where I feel something isn’t my job or responsibility to shepherd or be the leader, and I feel indignant. Why should I have to do that? And then the whole debacle with a couple people I thought were my friends – they accused me of doing something, betraying their confidences, and the naked truth is that I simply didn’t do it. Fucking scorched earth indignation there. And frankly, I don’t take that back. I own my mistakes, I take responsibility for myself completely, and if you accuse me wrongly and say I’m lying and end our friendship over it? Fuck. I feel the indignation surging back through me as I type it out. And that’s what I’m talking about. That situation, specifically, no longer deserves any energy. I cannot change it, I will not run around and beg people who show no consideration for my feelings to be my friend and undo the damage they wrought on not only me, but many of my close friends. But when I think about it, it flares. And it’s an utter waste of time & energy. So I want to throw it away. When I feel the surge of anger, or defensiveness, or righteousness – all pieces of how I feel indignation, I want to hold up my hand & have it freeze in place. Go no further. Occupy no more time. I can’t prevent it from rising, but I can stop myself from letting it wash over me & allowing it minutes on the clock of my life.

It’s difficult to do. It’s taken me a long time to even see how indignation works against me. I know it’s part of my personality, and it’s even part of just being human and feeling defensive and coming from a place where you don’t feel you deserve a bad driver running you off the road or friends spitting in your face or having to do someone else’s job because they are hampered by their own limitations. But being angry, or indulging in the indignation doesn’t get you any closer to happiness. People confuse righteousness with happiness a LOT.

There are a ton of other words for emotions & reactions that hold us back and they don’t start with “IN”. Perhaps the best way to put it is this: What INhibitor to your happiness can you give up, set aside, control better, and instead put that energy towards positive thinking & action?

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