You did this to me…

… and other things you didn’t realize your parents did to you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand they did the best they could and I do not believe my parents were EVIL or anything.  But let’s just say I can hear the voice of Yoda as I type, “The dysfunction is strong with this one…”  Especially my family.

But this post has a very specific INCIDENT to which I want to address.  I FINALLY get those PINK Shoes out of the box and onto my feet to try them out for a few hours.  I am visiting my Dad and feel the need to IMPRESS him with the Newness and BRIGHTNESS of my PINK SHOES; because there is still a part of the little girl in me who wants his validation and the REACTION that a good story USUALLY generates.  So I raise my FEET and announce the presence of my NEW SHOES.  Aren’t They BRIGHT??? Aren’t they cool?? Here are all the reasons I needed them… I DID not mentioned a SINGLE word about RUNNING or the 5K idea that had begun to marinate in my head.  The purpose of the Shoes were JUST to be comfortable for WALKING more. After ALL I needed to do better with my Fitbit Steps.

Somewhere before I had EVEN gotten to the punch line of my story, my dad interrupts with his commentary on RUNNING: “I don’t get runners.  Have you EVER met a happy runner?  I mean look at them they ALWAYS look MISERABLE, Unhappy.  I’ve never met a happy runner.”

AND THERE IT IS SPORTS FANS… the seed to the root of my dislike of running.  HOW is it that ONE parents perception, belief, or joke about an activity can root itself so far down deep into their child’s psyche as to generate a subconscious belief they cling to with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY.  Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like running the mile in Jr High (who did) and by the time I hit High School I couldn’t do the sports I wanted, why would I entertain the thought of running something that was supposed to make me feel miserable.

As soon as he made that joke about the unhappy runner, I heard my inner WOMAN scream, “YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!!” Just like Bill Cosby’s wife says in his comedy routine about her giving birth to their first child.  So I sit there through the rest of my visit and most of my ride home with a new-found sense of identity.  Mostly entertaining a lot of questions, “Who said you can’t run?  Why not do the Couch to 5K?  What could it hurt?  Why not try something else NEW again?  What have you got to lose?  Hasn’t your Dad been wrong about MOST things in life?”  Pretty Much.

So with this new-found realization about my avoidance of running, I begin anew a rebellion against the beliefs of my father. Deconstructing the belief systems I have always had, replacing them with New things.  Taking the bucket list to a whole new dimension, instead of doing things I have always wanted to but haven’t yet; doing things I have always thought I could NEVER do.  Sometimes I don’t know the reason behind the belief I couldn’t do something, but doing them none-the-less.

So November 2nd began my Couch to 5K training.  I got out on the track, in the PINK shoes and completed my first workout.  Having an app and a plan and a GPS and music and a track near by has made this EMOTIONAL first step easier than feared.  But don’t get me wrong, THERE WAS FEAR.  I have been OVERWHELMED by the internal warnings of my fearful lymbic system, “What if it’s locked?  What if you’re not suppose to use it? What if you look stupid?  What if there are people there that laugh and point?  What if your too cold, too hot? What if it starts raining?  What if it’s too hard?  What if it hurts?” and on and ON. I hear it, and push past it, like a determined healthy shopper pushes past all those COSTCO vendors begging you to try a sample of their fried food.  And I made it to the parking lot, I made it to the track, I made it around once, I jogged each interval my app said to do, and I made it through the cool down to complete 35min.

SO THERE DAD!!!! I may not have looked happy while I was doing it; I may have been SCARED out of my mind to TRY IT; I maybe have even looked COMPLETELY out-of-place by the 2 guys doing their own track workout; BUT I DID it.  I ran and finished.  There is nothing and NO ONE saying I can’t do it but me…  And I’m not saying that EVER EVER AGAIN!!!

It’s a pair of shoes… PINK SHOES…

It all started with a pair of shoes…

These are THE shoes that started it all.

These are THE shoes that started it all.

It was a classically stormy SUMMER day on a drive to Seattle, when I stopped to buy a SPECIFIC pair of Sketchers.  Now I did buy those shoes but then started to say… It would also be nice to have a good pair of dress shoes… Anyone else have that experience where ONE simple shopping trip turns into a mega purchase instead of JUST THAT ONE Item?  But alas this post is not about my shopaholic tendencies.  After the Dress shoes were acquired, that little inner voice says, “If you are gonna be doing ALL that NEW walking you are going to NEED actually runner type shoes.. the ones you have hurt your feet.” Insert DEEEP sigh here.  The inner voice for once was right, I DID want to do more walking and ALL 4 pairs of my current tennis shoes were not cutting it.

As I began to walk the shelves of running shoes, I INSTANTLY became overwhelmed in NEW uncharted territory.  So many choices, so many options, and the PRICE tags drove my blood pressure to new heights IMPRESSING upon me I COULDN’T afford a pair of $100 shoes that were going to sit in my closet.  I began to think, I CAN’T make this decision today; I need input from some EXPERTS, I have to AT least Facebook it or message a few friends I KNOW are runners for advice.  THEN I SAW THEM… The brightest PINK Shoes you have EVER seen, as the comic relief part of my brain took over and shouted, “NOW THERE’s some shoes you would NEVER Buy…” Having a moment of levity I actually chuckled out loud.

For those of you playing from outside the realm of KNOWING me… You have to understand I HATE pink.  I don’t care that it is the champion color for a great cause that I should support with every fiber of my being.  I don’t care that it has been the champion anthem colorant of my gender, I have had a total rebellion against ANYTHING girlie for as far back as I can possibly remember.  At women’s luncheons where the theme is wear ONE item of pink, I come dressed in ALL black as a statement.  I JUST DO.  So to even CONSIDER an item of clothing or footwear of the PINK variety is very contrary to one of my life’s missions.

“…You have been doing A LOT of things you would have never done before these days…” Says an ENTIRELY different voice.  One with way more wisdom and authority.  So my only response is to think YES… YES I HAVE. And with that I grab the BRIGHT PINK shoes off the shelf to try them on.  AND If that wasn’t ENOUGH I see a picture of Jillian Michaels on the side of the box, OH GREAT just ANOTHER reason I would NEVER buy these shoes.  I HATE feeding the Marketing machine, and she stresses me out just WATCHING her on TV let alone imagining her as my trainer.  I would fall apart in an instant; I don’t do well with being yelled at.  But at this point I am determined.

And as I am taking them to the bench to try them on I see they are K-Swiss brand.  This is their ONE saving grace… I LOVE K-Swiss shoes, 3 of the 4 pairs of worn out shoes I have are K-Swiss.  So I have mentally bought the shoes before they have EVEN hit my feet; at which point I am REALLY hoping they will even fit and feel good.

AS EXPECTED, they are like a dream on my feet.  Soft, squishy, plenty of room and I actually FEEL sporty wearing them.  As a last-ditch moment of anxiety I pray, “Please Lord don’t let this be a mistake.”  There I go THREE boxes of shoes in hand to the register, they are MY shoes NOW.

Where did all my friends go?

The more time passes the smaller and smaller it seems my circle of friends becomes.  I am now realizing the amazing privilege I had to be part of a college and career group that desired to be together.  That had the charisma and draw that seemed to bridge gaps and draw single people together like nothing ANYONE else had ever seen.  The dilemma with this is that life must go on, changes must be made, and people eventually move into different stages of life.  And as they do that their relationships and friendships change. 

Yet for me, I feel I am in the same stage I was back then.  I am single, working, serving, going to church, and living my life.  It doesn’t feel all that drastic from my life 15 years ago.  I know it is because my pay check is larger, I have my own paid off car, I live in a house, and I work in a place that respects my skills (most days).  But my contact list is smaller, my physical personal interactions are fewer, and I can’t seem to gather more than 10 people at a time in my house for free food and fun.  So this leads me to ask the question: Where did all my friends go?

I saw this snippet online and had to take this equivalent to a self-test, and wonder in my old age have I let my friendship skills slack? 

When someone tells me they have no friends and they are no longer in adolescence, I have a difficult time with that statement. Why? Because at some point, you have to offer people something. If all you’re offering is negativity, you will find yourself alone. If all you’re being is needy, you are draining the life from people. Asking the question “What can I do for you?” and being there for someone, you are proving yourself to BE a friend. That is the only way you GET friends. If you truly have ZERO friends, take a look at what you’re offering people. You’re offering people nothin’, so that’s what you got. Being a friend gains you credibility, and begins the process of building relationships. Please note: this takes time! Rome wasn’t built in a day! Don’t suffocate people. Simply BE the friend YOU would like to have, and you will never be lonely.

I have not asked that question lately and to be honest it is not a normal part of my vocabulary. I do look for opportunities to be there for people and offer up what I think I can give after I have decided what they want.  But I do not actually ASK them “what can I do for you?”  Such a simple shift in perspective from what can I get and what do I deserve and what am I missing… To an offering of self to be or do what another needs.  I know this.  I have done this. I believe in this.  I can do this again.  But I have spent so much time feeling the lonely, empty, vacuum of my hurt, rejection, and abandonment; all I have done is work on figuring out how to fix me, rescue me, redeem me; that I have forgotten that extending the gift of give, care, and empathy first is what makes the way for others and God to bring all those things into my life and fill me up naturally. 

Another clever quote I read:

If you wish “acquaintanceship,” BE RICH.  If you wish friends, BE A Friend.”

There is nothing like money to make you attractive and appealing to others. But, of course, the kind of people who are attracted to you only because of what you can do for them are most likely acquaintances, not friends. You may have many acquaintances if you become wealthy, but whatever your station in life may be, you will never have true friends unless you are a friend to others. Be very selective in your choice of friends. Choose to associate with positive people who like you for the person you are, who encourage you to be yourself and to be the best you can be.

I am beginning to understand more and more that it is not the sheer volume of people I have around me to call at any given moment.  Rather it is the quality of those people who will help define me as the person I want to become.  The people I surround myself with are the ones who will either embrace who I am and challenge me to work harder, be stronger, and seek God or they will be the ones who keep me stagnant, slothful, and stale.  I feel that I have been through the stagnant waters and I am done.  Bring on the new, fresh, exciting life ahead and with that I seek the strong old friendships and the positive new friendships; but most importantly focusing on the kind of friend I can be to those around me for their growth, improvement, health, and support.  That I may be the one offering “What can I do for you?” more than asking what can they do for me.

The New Way

Maybe it isn’t that I want to do things the wrong way, in complete rebellion of everything that has come before.  Maybe it is just a desire and want to find some thing new. 

I have been in my job for 8 years, so you can say that I have been here for a smidge of time.  When I arrived there were no printed training materials: training guides, quick reference guides, checklists, practice pages, or activities to assist with the technical software training my team does.  And even more surprisingly, no one was interested in creating them or even using them.  I can’t help but have flashbacks to the book “Telling Ain’t Training” in some of my initial debates and “discussions” I had with my co-workers.  So in my region I started to develop ALL of these things to be used in my new hire training.  It was based on a small sampling of training industry norms, but the rest was developed out of practice.  Watching a learner move through the process and seeing the things that hung them up, as well as the unforseen side effects of using some customers vs others; not to mention finding those PERFECT situations to demonstration real world situations. 

So fast forward 4 years and most of that trial and error is finished, and I am fairly proud of my materials that I have created and implemented.  No one else wants to use it, but I feel confident in its succesful application in my region.  I have had many of the immeasurable responses from my managers, employees, and support staff; so YES it worked.  But now I’m bored.  I find myself dreading the hiring of a new person in my region, because I have perfected this process so much it is the same thing EVERY TIME!!! I tell the same jokes, refer to the same stories, anticipate participants reactions (even when I cannot see them because we are training online), and have them experience the same learning patterns of the users.  But like I said, I am bored.  So I could rewrite them, or use different stories, new customers, but that’s a lot of work… why mess with perfection, RIGHT? 

Yet this reminds me of those itches I use to get when I would walk in my bedroom as a youth.  I was unsettled, discontented, restless with this unresolved angst I just couldn’t explain.  I didn’t have an option to change rooms, but I COULD rearrange my room, a little.  SO that is what I did: posters on the ceiling, shelves in a different corner, desk on a different wall, you name it I rearranged it.  This carried on into early adulthood in college, my first apartment, and beyond. And as soon as the EXHAUSTIVE rework was DONE, FINALLY… I would be at peace. At least for the next 6 months or so.  *wink, wink*

Many times the designs were not made according to the most efficient use of space, or the best way to keep things clean.  It was simply a matter of KNOWING it was different, new, unfamiliar.  It brought about a sense of accomplishment and pride for having an idea and bringing it to life.  And at times it resulted in me staring at something crooked for MONTHS asking myself WHY OH WHY did I put that there? 

So maybe that is how I see life.  I see the pathways that people have travelled before and I value and appreciate the effort and the experience they had in figuring it out.  But I want the thrill and excitement of blazing my own trail, of finding my own method, or discovering the do’s and don’ts along the path.  Is it because I like doing things wrong, or is it just because I like to experience something new?  Either way I am beginning to take comfort in the fact that just because I have a different way of doing something doesn’t mean its wrong, it just means its the way I wanted to go to get there.

The Amazing Christina – LA Edition

A group of circumstances completely fell into place last December that produced the need for me to go to Long Beach, California for some necessary on site training, which never happens.  The Regional Trainer for the LA area was out-of-town on a much-needed vacation and the Regional Sales Manager was having a meeting and practically demanding the presence of a trainer at this meeting.  As usual, I was all about the pick me Pick Me, PICK ME!!!

So with an amazing string of luck or blessing I was chosen. I do believe it had more to do with the price of my plane ticket instead of my stellar training skills.  It was a short trip pretty much 24 hr turn around.  The expected training time somewhere between 1-3 hours.  The Manager had provided a set of subjects that he wanted covered, but since most of these items had been trained already, I had to assume they didn’t want a formal training session of the basics.  The subjects I know very well and can even anticipate some of the questions and challenges they may have. 

What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would absolutely LOVE the experience.  It was a nervous wreck at first because I didn’t have a formal Powerpoint presentation and I didn’t know any of the people I was coming to train.  It was typical travel: arrive in the morning, rental car, and I arrive in the conference room and just sit and wait.  Enough time to sit and wait and let my nerves get to me. 

Once I got started with the basics, it lasted about 15 minutes.  The plan, the training, the intended topics, yes at 15 minutes into the presentation, I was smack dab into the middle of crossfire style questions on EVERYTHING.  From processes, to programs, to procedures, and internal branch communications.  It was an amazing rush and of all the questions that were tossed at me or near me for the next 3 hours, I only had 4 take away questions (things I couldn’t answer).  Mostly because I needed to do some testing and followup. 

In a room full of 15 men all master outside sales people with more focus on sales than on training, but there were questions and scenarios flying all afternoon.  I was the center of the room and the center of information all at the same time.  I felt like saying, Queen of the LAB in classic Bones style.  The manager thanked me and we discussed other options for training and situations.  The pricing team thanked me and I was able to connect with a group of people throughout the former corporate office of this acquired company. 

I was AWESOME and valuable and useful and the perfect trainer.  And I love the feeling of a new place, new car, new hotel, and new people.  Some how I had forgotten what it was like to travel and love what I do, even when there is a portion of not knowing EXACTLY what I will be doing.