The Roads We Travel

A few days in a life journey.

Archive for July 2016

I’m With Her… Shhh! Not So Loud. Not Here.

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We recently joined a tennis club in our community. I know, I know! It sounds like some high-end shit… at least it did to this girl who grew up in a tough Maryland suburb of Washington, DC. But, 13 years of motherhood have worn away my tough facade and all I could think about was what I would do with my kids all summer.

The tennis club offers tennis camp, swim lessons, fitness facilities, social activities, babysitting and more. Yes, please!

It didn’t occur to me that people like me (a Democrat) might not usually join a tennis club in this community. I mean, I’m usually one of a handful of African-Americans in most of the places I go, but I’m used to that. It is 2016 after all, right? Most people are kind and polite. At times I almost forget that my skin color is different. I said, almost.

So last night at the tennis club, while the kids were busy playing in the kids club area, I made my way to the cafe for a drink and to catch a bit of the Democratic National Convention. After all, just last week the Republican National Convention was playing on the big screens there. Surely, they would have the DNC on?

As I walked in, the two televisions around the bar were set to ESPN. I thought, well it is a tennis club. Duh!

So, I asked the bartender if he could put on one of the other televisions (away from the bar) for me. Sure thing. He was happy to do so until he found out that I wanted to watch the DNC. You would have thought that I just cussed him out, and then forced him to drink a jug of salt water. Ooo, he was salty!

He didn’t even turn up the volume when he finally found the right channel, but it was fine because I had closed caption and wanted to work until Hillary came on. Then, when Chelsea took the stage, I went to the bar and asked him to turn up the volume for me. He walked over, turned up the volume and snarked, “Did she ever find out who her real dad is yet?” He snickered and walked back to the bar. Really?

My husband joined me shortly after his tennis lesson. I told him how I was recently informed by a “friendly” that I’m surrounded by sharks (Republicans). He laughed.

Then, Hillary came on. I think the volume in the room around me increased by 50 decibels. I’m thinking this is the time everyone decides to be loud and boisterous. Okay, they are around the bar, but last week when the RNC was on television you could hear a pin drop.

A woman walked in the cafe and up to the television, she looked at Hillary and said, “Wow, how many face lifts has she had?” Then, she looked over at our table, expecting a response. I was mute. My husband said, “As many as it takes?” and they both laughed as she walked off.

My husband is good at diffusing tense situations. Me, not so much.

When I hear the outlandish, hurtful things that Trump is saying, I used to think, Who is he talking to? Who thinks this is okay? Now, I know.

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Written by Shara

July 29, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Why I’m Getting Really Good at Accepting Failure

Recently, I was presented with an opportunity to work on a project full-time onsite with an amazing company. I was super excited!

Don’t get me wrong, I love the flexibility of working from home, keeping my own schedule, and working for various companies on fun, diverse projects. Still, the allure of one steady paycheck was too much to overlook. I could use some consistency after having a couple of clients decide to just not pay for work already completed. Yeah, accounting and collections aren’t my strong suit. 

So, I lined up our current projects and worked with my team to take the lead on keeping those going and off I went to try out this new venture. It lasted three weeks and half a day before I went running for the hills. #epicfail

Uggh! I forgot how bad I was at office politics and kissing hiney! And BTW, I have no patience for bullying and intimidation. I know that I work best in environments where team leaders and managers set you up for success. I try to do that for my team members as well. I figure we all want to succeed and have a great outcome.

The truth is, however, I am only one part of the equation in any project that I take on. And, I’m getting really good at accepting failure. Saying that probably makes you think I’m terrible at my job — I’m not. But, honestly, I fail at things every day. I’m pretty sure everyone does, but you shouldn’t be defined by your failures or shortcomings — or the collective failure of any group to which you belong. Don’t take that on! Don’t define yourself that way! Other people are going to judge you and say mean, horrible things, that’s life. Bye Felicia!

Like Former President George W. Bush recently said, “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”

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Wow. Never thought I would be quoting Dubyah with such a profound statement, but no matter the source, truth is truth.

I think the problem is that we’re always judging… ourselves and others. But, it’s really not our job, so why take it on?

Once we accept that failure happens to everyone, then we can just move on to the next opportunity to fail or succeed. It really could go either way!

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try your best or make every effort to get things right, but it DOES mean that you’re not the only part of the equation and sometimes timing isn’t right, people aren’t the best fit, budgets are off, or any number of elements that you just don’t or can’t control.

I once had a really wonderful and bad-ass friend tell me, “Show up, be present, give it your best, and don’t be connected to the results.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing something she probably heard from Oprah, but those words come back to me often.

A lot of my women friends take on the full responsibility for failures. Failure in a job or on a project. Failure in a relationship. Failure on a diet or new fitness program. Failure as a parent. I know I fall into that trap. But while you don’t need to take full responsibility for these failures, in most cases, you should get really good at accepting them and knowing that they don’t define you. Tomorrow is another day (God willing) to get up and try again or try something else.

So, let’s see… did I fail to complete the project — yep, I did not complete the project despite my offer to do so off-site. But, did I fail to protect myself from a soul-sucking journey into a neverending battle against bullying and intimidation? Well, I think I got that one right and the stars must have aligned because I’m happy with my decision. That’s #winning, to me, every time.

How do you deal with failure? Are you really hard on yourself when things don’t go the way you planned?

Written by Shara

July 12, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Musings

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