Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Home

"Home is where the people who love you live." I received a bit of ribbing that I still consider my parents house "home." It's not that I dislike South Bend or am not content here...but that doesn't make it home.

After the past 1.5 years, one would think maybe my perspective would change. I am able to drive around town and not get lost. I have numerous friends that I enjoy being with. I have a blessed church to worship with. I know where most things are in town. Yet it doesn't possess the feeling of absolute comfort of home. Purdue felt more like home in a few months that South Bend has yet to achieve.

I think it is because the people who I love the most and who love me, don't live here. It's not that I'm pathetically alone here. I have wonderful church brothers and sisters and some great friends. Yet they aren't my family.

My family who I talk to each member of at least once a week. People who I can call, say I'm bored and we'll have no trouble filling the time with conversation. It's ok to cry, be annoyed, or whatever. People I understand so well that I know what makes them happy, sad and so on.

I have attached a picture of my fabulous family. I can't praise God enough for them. We are all so different but we share a common love and devotion to each other that makes me understand why family is so important.



Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Offering options versus giving advice

As a rather opinionated individual, I find it difficult not to share my thoughts. It's not that I expect people to do what I say (even though I'm usually right -just kidding...sort of). It would just pain me to see someone do something because they didn't know any better and I did know better. Yet, it is socially taboo and generally not polite to spoon people advice. Typically as the advice giver you are only dealing with the facts of the situation. Most life experiences are compounded by a emotional and spiritual components that make the intellectually logical, illogical. The advice giver fails to account for these components and is incapable of fully comprehending them due their deeply personal ties to the other person.

Despite these social barriers, people may approach you seeking assistance. Sometimes all they want is someone to listen to them and be a shoulder to cry on. Other times they really do need information. Presenting this information as straight up advice has some inherent problems.

1. You may inadvertently pressure the individual into doing things that are against their best interest. People have weird feelings of guilt when the choose not to follow another individual's advice. They may have very good reasons for not adhering to the advice or maybe the don't. Either way it make an additional right/wrong dilemma that may be unnecessary.

2. As the advice giver, you are maintaining control of the situation. The old saying "Give a man a fish you'll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish you'll feed him for a lifetime." The same goes with advice. Helping individuals in crisis remember they are competent and capable of making decisions strengthens them for the times they have to make those tough choices on their own.

3. You may be wrong. By telling someone to do something that then doesn't work out so well, you can betray their trust and confidence. This can have extreme negative effects on your relationship hence forth.

Offering different options allows that decision to be made by the individual. It is even fine to share what option you would choose if ask. Yet the choice must always be left to the individual. They should not be forced in justifying their decision. "Why?" is probably one of the most damaging questions to a relationship. You may be really seeking "what" their reasons or motivations were. Using "what" versus "why" eliminates the overshadowing doubt you may have in their response. It encourages the exchange of information without passing unnecessary judgment.

So my advice is...just kidding.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Not sure about pets

After living alone for the past 1.5 years, I've been tediously praying/searching for a roommate. I've had several situations that I thought would work out and then God chose to shut those doors. Many friends/family have suggested I get a pet. Now if you don't know me well, this idea is not going to spark a great deal of enthusiasm.

For starters, I'm don't like the way fur feels or smells. I find it somewhat dirty. Some people are able to still maintain a clean home despite their indoor pets, I'm not sure I'm willing to take that risk.

Secondly, my apartment complex does not allow pets. This actually excited me when I moved in. I believe I said to the rental agent "I don't want pets and I really don't want to live around people who do." Yes this sounds harsh, but the thought of being kept awake at 3:30 every Monday and Thursday morning because the neighbor's dog is barking at the garbage collector really doesn't appeal to me.

I'm also not a pet-cuddle person. Give me a kid or person suitable for hugging and I'm all about it. I love to hug etc...well we'll go with most of the time. Every now and then I get protective of my bubble. Research has shown that the average American woman needs to be lovingly touched 8-12 times per day to promote good health. Yet pets just don't meet that need for me. I don't have a desire to pet them or scratch their head. My brother used to force my hand to pet our dog Bailey at home. I just cannot establish that emotional connection.

Finally, I'm not home enough to be a good pet owner. With my current class on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I'm not home from 8 a.m. till 9:30 p.m. The other evenings I often have stuff going on plus work during the day. Also since most of my friends and family do not live in South Bend, I do a lot of travel. What would I do with a pet during my crazy weekends?

I currently do have one pet, he is a fish named Russ. He can go easily 5 days without being fed, he never demands extra attention, and he is a fabulous listener. While I appreciate everyone's suggestions, I'm not sure that a pet will make a suitable roommate for me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

In what I know or who I know

One of the most over-used quotes in business is "it's not what you know but who you know." While this saying has a great deal of truth to it, never does it resonate more than in our spiritual life.

The Bible makes it clear that though we have all knowledge, wisdom, and understand unless we love we have nothing. Our works mean nothing unless we know Christ.

When I'm looking for direction in my life, I pray for God to show me which way to go. Often I have a reasonably concrete idea in my head of where that is. I then take confidence in that "I know God's will for my life." It saddens me how quickly have misconstrued the purpose of knowing God's will. God's will for my life is that I love him, that I recognize his Son Jesus as his Savior, and that I do my part to bring others to this wonderful knowledge.

Bible study is a good thing. Knowing how God has worked before and his directions are essential to understanding his spirit. Yet I pray we take confidence in that we know Christ...not in what we know.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Signs of Courtesy

"Service excellence" or "Superior Customer Service" businesses strive to cultivate customer loyalty by providing excellent service. Regardless of industry, it almost always more cost effective to retain a current customer than to attract a new customer. I believe this customer service focus isn't reflective of a more customer-friendly approach to business but rather a deterioration of basic politeness in our society.

It is no longer expected that people are nice to one another. A friend and I ate at Wendy's today. I noted a 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with tips for excellent customer service. The list contained a list of behaviors that I thought all of our mothers taught us. The final concluded with "Just Be Nice." It saddened me to think that we've forgotten how to respect each other as people.

Unfortunately a lack of customer service may be a result of a more demanding public versus a failing of the employee. I have seen numerous checkers yelled at for a long wait or their food wasn't done properly. Many were screaming at a person other than the one at fault. Even if the employee did make a mistake, it rarely is justification for extreme fits of anger. I don't need to make others suffer to find relief for frustration.

In our egocentric society, we are continually looking out for "#1" When we begin to see others as living souls, it is naturally easier to show them compassion and concern. I'm not striving for a meaningless "How may I help you?" but rather that I acknowledge that person as a human being. As customers, it would probably drastically improve our customer service if we showed those who serve us a little compassion.

All of us are served by someone and all of us serve others. It is in the environment of mutual respect and compassion that we will all succeed. I recognize that I won't be able to change the mentality of the world but I'll try to do my part and not yell at the Wendy's order taker because my potato was cold.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good thing my office is a casual work environment

Feb 1, 2006. This has been the busiest day in the office for the entire year. Yet I still find a quick moment to share. As I'm sitting in my slightly controversial 10:00 am meeting I randomly have a spastic moment and proceed to spill tea down the front of my white sweater. So much for my effort to look mature and profession. Versus bursting into tears I wipe the dripping tea of my shirt and continue through the meeting with a very large spot on my chest.

Well the day is too crazy to justify a trip home, so I walk out to my gym bag pull out a clean t-shirt. The office is also unmercifully hot today, so I had to remove my boots. I'm sitting my office shoeless, panty hose, dressy skirt and a donate blood t-shirt. Of course Dennis, my Senior VP, decides today is good day to come over to my office just to see how things are going. Good thing we don't have a dress code here. Thankfully, I'm don't have in-person meetings the rest of the day so I can sit here to privately bemoan my stupidity.