Just Relax…

“Just relax,” the nurse prodded, as I set the book aside, earmarking the chapter I’d been reading on anxiety.

Sure. Relax, I chided inside my head. That always works to tell yourself that, almost…um, never.

“I’ll let you sit here for a few minutes before I take your blood pressure again. I’m sure you’ve just been rushing around this morning.”

I dropped my head in shame, thinking of the irritable words I had mumbled at the line of cars that were keeping me from getting to my doctor’s appointment on time. You know, blaming others always reduces anxiety – just like reading books about it.

I drummed my toes on the step that I had used to get up on the table that reminded me I was the patient – meaning that something was wrong with me. Oh yeah? Not nearly as wrong as that stupid step that’s bent downward. I recognized that my legs were plenty long enough that I should have ordinarily been able to be flat-footed upon it. I was beginning to feel a little less anxious now. Transference always did the trick.

Just as I was feeling more relaxed, the nurse came back in and squeezed my arm again with the blood pressure cuff.

“Oh.”

Oh? That’s all I was going to get, huh? “So I take it that my forced meditation didn’t work?” I figured one of us needed to verbalize the obvious.

“It actually went up some more. We’ll have you lie down for awhile after your check-up and try again.”

All the issues stacked on my office desk began to send mind-texts to me. The post-it reminders on my brain were piling up. After my little office table nap, my blood pressure had sky-rocketed. Brilliant.

The next thing I know, my doctor is blah-blahing about medicine to reduce my blood pressure.

“Wait a minute, doc. I can’t do that. My blood pressure’s just high because I have a lot on my plate this week, and being here is just putting me further behind.” Seemed like a reasonable excuse to me. Yeah, I know. Emphasis on excuse.

“Well, I’ll tell you what,” she reasoned back. “Let’s just start you on it this week, then, and when things settle down – and we see that your blood pressure does too – we can talk about you coming off of it.”

And therein lies my new pet peeve. Reasonable people. Don’t they just get all over your nerves?


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Talkin’ ’bout MY(?) Generation

My last post mentioned how my heritage sometimes confuses me.

If that’s the case, then my generation is even more confusing to me.

By birthright, I am the product of the Builders generation. They grew up during the Depression, went off to (or felt the effects of) WWII in their teen years, and brought remarkable recovery to our country through their work ethic and sacrifice. They knew how to work hard to conserve. And by that definition, they were quite conservative. They were also good rule makers. They knew they’d earned enough respect to be. I’m going to claim the right for them to be called the “Follow Me” generation.

If by birthright, I belonged to the Builders, my heart (or at least my curiosity) followed the Boomers. I was a late-life child, so I had three older siblings who were part of the Baby Boomer generation. They were born into that time of our country’s prosperity. Their generation had a little more time on their hands – time to shake their hips to Elvis while developing a liberal dose of attitude. If the Builders were rule makers, the Boomers tried to be rule breakers. They worked for the means to be heard. By their sheer numbers, alone, they demanded to have a voice and demanded to use resources that had previously been conserved – sometimes to good advantage, other times, not so much. They were both lovers & fighters, always in a struggle for something they were still working to define. I call them the “Hear Me” (or maybe “Feel Me, Free Me”) generation.

I came along as a Gen-X-er, or part of Generation X. That’s cool if you’re one of the X-Men, I suppose. Otherwise, you’re just classified as a rebel without a cause a large part of the time. We really weren’t about bucking authority. We just mostly liked to fight it in our songs. We were hard rock meets Madonna, which is probably why Botox seemed sensible. You get the picture (frightening as it may be). Our real problem was that we were confused about what the X actually was. It made us feel like some strange, unsolvable algebraic equation. Now, we’re just a bunch of cool cynics. Just call us the “Show Me” generation. 

Generation

Generation Y comes behind us, grabbing up my older sons in their wake. This bunch is often referred to as the “Me Now” generation. I’ve changed that to the “See Me” generation. It’s not really their fault they have a narcissistic tendency. Even before all their BFF’s showed up on reality TV, home videos were big when they were growing up. I’m pretty sure this generation figured out how to take selfies long before they had digital cameras built into their phones or a Facebook page to display them. They had to. They figured their parents, who worked all the time, wouldn’t see them grow up otherwise. Relax. I think Wall Street may have more to do with their me-attitudes than their parents or the iPhone. Otherwise, we’ll all have to admit that they’re protesting us.

(People have a little trouble agreeing about the separation between Ys & Zs. It always takes many years out for generational divisions to become more obvious. Y’s didn’t even last until Y2K. The Z’s were the cross-overs. So I’m calling for a re-vote on the Millenial name.)

In my humble opinion (okay, it’s not), Generation Z should be re-framed as Millenials (not Millenialists, mind you), since they showed up around the turn of the century (and, even upon their arrival, the world didn’t end). Communication certainly took a turn though (for better or worse? depends on who you talk to – and whether it’s through social media), with the overwhelming addition of personal technology for every BODY. Despite having their own phones at the age of…2-1/2, this group is supposedly part of an attitude shift back towards responsibility (since a long-lasting downturn in economy strangely corresponds to either a crime wave or an upturn in responsibility). My youngest son falls in there – except for the criminal part. If this group stays on track, I might rename them the “Be Me” generation.

The little Alphas are just coming onto the scene (leaders of the pack – ?? –  currently trailing behind the rest of us) – and there’s apparently going to be a large number of them. (I guess when there’s no money to go out on the town, couples find other ways to be entertained.) They’re the ones who are really going to Shake, Rattle, & Roll (or maybe that’s what they’re doing now). I think the Alphas are scheduled to begin primary school by 6 months of age and apparently will be working by age 9 to begin replenishing our Social Security deficit. So I’ll just call them the “Bite Me” generation. (You know, because they’re still teething. What were you thinking?)

Looking at generational profiles is like looking at a horoscope. Sure, you’ll find some generalizations that sound like you. Yet, despite a warped world trying to cause us to become unglued so it can then remold us…in the end, we’re responsible for our own choices of who we’re going to be.

As for me, I’m dumping the X-Generation & heading into the Next Generation. (Yeah, um, that was an enterprising Star Trek pun – or two.)

JLP

Unearthing the Value of my Heritage – and other secrets of an Indian Giver

Sometimes my heritage is confusing to me.

My mother’s father was Norwegian. His wife (my grandmother) was German.
My other grandmother was Irish – down to her peachy skin and Celtic name.
To hear her tell it, her husband (my grandfather) was of Scottish/Irish origin too.
To hear him tell it, his grandmother was a full-blooded Native American from the Cherokee nation – and, despite his gray-blue eyes, he loved flaunting their almond shape, along with his high cheekbones and the well-tanned skin beneath his handsomely tall frame.
Of the four grandparents, I spent the majority of my time with him.
He was retired, so we’d go on summer walks through town together, as I held his large hand and looked a mile upward to speak with him.
We’d work in the garden and yard together, with him entrusting me to operate his first riding mower as I entered into my double digits.
He’d accompany my dad to many of my ballgames, where I was sometimes a teeny bit jealous when my older cousins’ friends would run up and hug him and call him Granddad. (Okay, so I still had to learn to share.)
I felt I had a right to be possessive of him. After all, I was the one who trimmed his ear hairs. (Though my eyes were assuredly better than those of my grandmother – who’d transitioned to a large print bible – some days, I believe he asked me to do this deed simply because he thought it was safer for a kid to be wielding a sharp instrument over him in lieu of testing his wife’s Irish temperament.)

But I digress…

My father and uncle were both intrigued by their Native American heritage and, for years, searched out related artifacts.
My dad turned me into a junior archaeological librarian, as I’d assist him in organizing and tagging his finds by appropriate periods. I can recall also getting to go on “archaeological digs,” walking sandbars during the cold winter months, most often needing to be carried by my father, as my small frame would sink into the soft mud as if I were being swallowed up by quicksand. Many years later, my father and uncle were killed in a boating accident in January, out in those same waters where the three of us explored our heritage together. As much as it hurt to lose them, I couldn’t have imagined a more appropriate place for them to have been together when their spirits crossed over into eternity.

Nancy Ward print by deceased artist Ben Hampton

Hiskyteehee (Five Killer) print by deceased artist Ben Hampton

One of the gifts my father left me was a Ben Hampton print of Nancy Ward.
Awhile back, as my youngest son was lying on our couch, his head hanging upside down, he peered up at the print and inquired, “Mama, is that you?”
I was amused when I asked him if he thought it looked like me. He sat up and somberly nodded, still waiting for my answer. He was a little disappointed to hear that it wasn’t, but then he became intrigued with Nancy Ward’s story and decided to embrace that part of his heritage too. He now has a print of Five Killer in his hangout space (in which I can more easily see myself, having a “don’t tick me off” scar in the exact same spot; mine, admittedly, came from my neighbor’s cat, Herbie George, who decided to engage in a surprise attack when I thought we were in the midst of a peace treaty. I wish I was wearing his claw around my neck as a symbol, where I could then refer to him as “Cat with Nine Claws” to make him sound more intimidating. I mean, Five Killer started off as LittleFellow. Sometimes, you do what you have to do…)

I didn’t think anymore about my son’s remark of my resemblance to Nancy Ward until a few weeks ago at work. There, I have a framed poster in my office from an Eastern & Western Cherokee Council Reunion, which my dad attended (with my uncle and Ben Hampton, as I recall) & which has a montage of Mr. Hampton’s Cherokee Heritage prints. Our new secretary walked into my office, took one look at the poster and asked, “Is that you in that picture?” Nancy Ward? Are you serious? Don’t I wish? I did have a proud moment of sharing the who’s & why’s of that poster, though. And, admittedly, I do enjoy having some obvious features from that particular part of my heritage, just as I do from the many other parts of my heritage.

What I don’t enjoy are the negative connotations that people place on that heritage, just as I don’t enjoy other negative connotations that sometimes surround me. Just as my heritage may create some confusion for me, so do people who make unjust slurs against others in the name of being offended, with no regard for what offense the accuser has created. The term “Indian giver” is one such example, being bestowed upon Native Americans because of a misunderstanding in communication and trade customs; yet not bestowed upon those who came in with no regard for such customs and forced natives from their own territories under purposefully perilous conditions, providing them little means for success in prosperity or survival. (Here’s where you might need to reference the Trail of Tears.)

That savage sort of thing still happens in modern social circles – at least in the spiritual, if not the physical realm.

Invaders show up in our own private sanctuaries of peacefulness, determined to drive us out (or basically, just drive us crazy). The offenses of which we get accused only exist as excuses to control our soul’s treasure. Any gifts of grace and peace offerings we produce get scoffed at, with newly fabricated accusations made. Invaders work overtime to convince others that we want them to bestow something of greater value to us in return (basically, because scoffers over-value whatever power they believe they wield). Once our weaknesses have been explored and exposed, these conquerors – convinced they have used up anything in us that was of importance to them – push us aside, out to the margins, treating us as if we never had any heritage here at all. Soon, we feel as though our peace has become some antiquated artifact that must be dug up in pieces and put back together if it is to be discovered again.

  • We see it happen in homes.
  • We experience it in the workplace.
  • It crops up in churches as easily as in middle schools.
  • When focused on themselves, people seem to have a tendency to want to de-value and drive others out for their own selfish purposes – to steal another’s heritage of belonging.

Whenever that happens to me, I take time to remind myself of my most important heritage – the one in which I am a daughter of a heavenly King. In Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). In Christ, there is no east or west (United Methodist Hymnal, No. 548); thus we are not sent on a journey of separation from others. In fact, our God reconciles, telling us He “will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). I’m also pretty sure there are no gossipy trouble-makers in that land of peace because we’re told that, “only in the place of hypocrites will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51). (I can’t think of any better example of how teeth gnashing must look than to watch a gossiper in action, chewing up a gut-full  of someone else’s troubles.)

No one said we had to wait for the new creation, though, to experience life’s best heritage. When Jesus walked among us in the flesh, He said, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). We are expected to live in peace and harmony with this land and the beings with which we have been entrusted in the here and now. Native Americans have long understood the spirituality and sacredness of all of creation. The gifts that they gave, such as roots that seemed worthless to the white man, held great meaning and often the power of healing or sustenance. Likewise, the gifts we give of ourselves, in which we know the value and meaning, may be received by others as meaningless, with that same sort of haughtiness and open disdain.

This shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the gifts of your heritage, though – the ones that are given to you because you ARE expected to graciously share them with others. I want to encourage you not to be driven out – but to go. Go be an Indian Giver. Offer goodness when others don’t have the capacity to understand the value. Offer peace in the midst of strife. As for the scoffers…II Peter 3:3 tells us to expect them. But then we’re told: “But in keeping with His promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (II Peter 3:13). In my mind, that new creation will look much like Native American spirituality, full of nurturing relationships between all people, land, and all living things. We are called to be part of that new creation in the here and now.

LORD, of all the characteristics that others may see,

let them most clearly heed the heritage of You in me.

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Mission Possible Challenge

Set any personal goals lately?

I’ve always liked the idea of setting goals and keeping them before me – as an accountability measure to maintain focus. I did this in my personal life long before I used the technique in my early career years. Now, I can’t imagine beginning my day without going over a task list that corresponds to strategies I’ve planned for reaching life and work goals. (Okay, sometimes just for reaching the end of the week!)

I recall taking a course on Strategic Planning in graduate school that was a perfect fit for me. The idea that anyone would not see the value of developing a Vision, a Mission, and collaborating through a strategic planning process to involve those who are most influenced and most affected by the outcomes, also assuring measures of accountability to identified key indicators, leaves me incredulous. (Not really – I was just trying to guilt you.)

And yet…

It dawned on me this week that I’d never challenged myself to formally go through a strategic planning process from a personal standpoint. By the very fact that an organization’s (or an organism’s) values should be taken into account in the visioning process, I’d failed myself – ignoring one of the very things I claimed to value. (It falls just below mint chocolate chip ice cream.)

So with many life changes facing my family this year, I’d like our little organization to do some team planning.

I decided I’d get the ball rolling with my own Personal Mission Statement, one that can encompass a broad spectrum of my life interactions. We’ll call this the rough draft phase.

The basic questions to answer for a Mission Statement at the very least include:

  • What do I do? (Personally, you might ask this from a value-perspective of, Who Am I?)
  • How do I do it? (This is more of a broad scope ‘how.’ Specific ‘hows’ come later in the actual strategies.)
  • For whom am I doing it? (It may be implied that you’re doing it for yourself, but you should consider who else gets impacted – even if it isn’t directly written in your personal statement.)
  • What value am I bringing by doing it? (If you’re not bringing any, then why are you doing it? Refer to the last sentence of my own statement. I decided to make that clear — for me more than anybody else.)

 

MY PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT:

To be forthright and intentional in building positive relations and making positive contributions in whatever I am a part – whether God-centered, family-centered, work-centered, or wherever opportunities arise – or else, if I cannot personally do so, to step back and get out of the way.

For goal-activating, this means that everything I do should be measured to this personal mission. 
Any goal I create should tie into this mission. Any personal action I take should be tested by this standard.

Maybe I should consider going back and making this my Vision Statement instead. 😉
Seriously…

For the individual, I think a mission statement has some vision built into it – 

  • Who do I want to be? (that’s still true to ME)
  • Within reason, what can I do that I may not always think to do NOW? (A true vision might not limit your present resources; a mission has to consider them. You are your own best untapped resource, however.)
  • Who might I impact if I thought/acted on a greater level? (This is the huge visioning transition. How can you take this and be a world-changer?)
  • What value might others get that I don’t realize? (This means you have to interact with others to ask them!)

The great thing about Strategic Planning is that it’s a fluid process, with the ability to change as does the surrounding climate. I’m still playing around with my own statement, but I plan for the Positive language to persist. That’s the climate where I believe we all best thrive.

What about you? Have you considered how your own Personal Mission Statement might appear?

Should you choose to accept this mission…
I would love to see how your own mission appears on paper.

Since we’re in the blogging world, just consider it a Challenge! 🙂

On to a great life mission,

-jody