chasingwonderwoman

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The Gift of Gratitude

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the importance of gratitude. I don’t know if it’s simply the latest social media wave or if it’s always been there and it’s just now infected me. You know how when you buy a new car, then all of a sudden you see the same car everywhere you go – it’s really self-awareness it’s “new-to you” not “something new”.

About 3 months ago I heard an inspirational speaker at a work conference and he spoke about the importance of gratitude. His speech struck a chord with me and from that day to this I adopted his gratitude suggestion. Simply put, when you wake up and your feet touch the floor, you do two things 1. Express what you are grateful for that happened the day before and 2. Envision something to be grateful for in the day ahead. He also added that when he thinks of the day ahead, he focuses on someone other than himself to have something positive happen to. I loved the idea and it seemed to align with so many other similar stories and messages that I had been hearing on how grateful people are happier people. Frankly, I can use as many injections of happiness as I can get, so I was up for it.

Ugliest toes in the world

Ugliest toes in the world

This is a picture of my feet which I now look at every morning. Let me start off by saying my feet are the absolute worst feature of my whole body. Too many years of too tight, and sadly in my early days, too-cheap heels, have left them an ugly mess. That being said, I do actually look down at them every day when I start my gratitude thoughts and I think as ugly as they are, I should be grateful for them too. I blogged awhile back about foot surgery and the pain I went through. Let me tell you it was WELL over a year before the pain went away and I am truly grateful that I no longer suffer with such agony.

I’d like to say that I have turned into the happiest person on the planet since embracing this concept, but that’s not altogether true. In my opinion, happiness will always be a fleeting, transitory state that comes and goes. I have good days and bad days, but for the most part many more happy days than sad. I can however say that my new gratitude mantra has changed my overall outlook and my ability to focus and direct myself. I really do wake up and appreciate things much more than I ever did. Instead of being frustrated or overwhelmed about my job, my bills or my college journey, instead I feel a sense of gratitude for what I was fortunate/blessed to have accomplished in all of these areas. That in turn allows me to get more done and more accomplished. Call it self-fulfilling prophecy, call it “The Secret”, or call it whatever you like. I truly believe with all my heart that we will always get what we want when we can figure out what it is, ask for it and focus on it.

One example as it relates to college. For a long while I have been avoiding finding out how long it will take before I finish my degree. In my head, I thought it was at least another two years or more. I was scared of hearing the answer, so I avoided it. This summer, during one morning conversation with my toes, I said…

  • I am grateful for completing Economic Geography this summer and getting an “A”;
  • Today, I want to make sure I know how many more classes I need to graduate;
  • And, for someone else, I hope that my best friend has a better experience during her second summer session than she did her first

Over the next couple of days I figured out a few things; first I needed 14 more classes to complete my Bachelor’s degree; second if I doubled up each semester, I would be finished in one year — Summer 2015, and third that I was only 3 classes shy from receiving my AS from the sister college where I have been taking reciprocal courses!

For this I am very grateful, and yes….very happy

And oh yeah, about my best friend who I added to that day’s gratitude speech….she not only loved her second summer class, she said it was the best one she has taken so far.

I think this Gratitude stuff works.

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I’m Back

One of the things I’m known for is telling crazy stories of things I have done or seen or witnessed. I love the stories and many times I add little bits and pieces to make it as entertaining as possible. I remember hearing a famous author (I think it was Wally Lamb) give a talk and say something to the effect that good fiction writers are really nothing more than pathological liars with a pen. I remember chuckling to myself thinking, he’s absolutely right.
I titled this blog Chasing Wonder Woman to allow me to write and do what I love, which is to tell my crazy and funny stories. My goal is to chronicle what I think is a super hero like fantasy many women have for themselves.

There are days when I think about writing to you about my love life (and lack thereof); about my family (the ones I adore and the ones that I want to strangle); about my job (don’t get me started) and of course about my friends. Frankly, all of these would make for a great movie or reality television show script. But this blog is really about my journey in college and not any of these other areas that would keep me and you amused. Maybe once I get my degree completed, I can focus this blog on one of those avenues. Who knows maybe by then there will be a Mr. Right in my life so I can chronicle how that works out.

Over the past few months, I have been absent – haven’t read your blogs and haven’t written very much. It’s not for lack of material or desire. Life for me; is like it is for all of you – too busy to do the things we love the most. I finished a great course last semester with an A and signed up for one of two summer sessions. I finally got smart enough to put in a request for tuition reimbursement from my company which will help with costs and while I still have a long way to go to finish my degree, this May I have witnessed two dear friends graduate as adult learners who returned to college – very inspirational!

I wanted to share a short message that I am back, sorry for the reprieve, and plan to do a better job staying in touch over the summer! One of my favorite television and radio personalities, Wendy Williams, ends every show with “I love you for listening”.

I want to mimic her by saying… “I love you for reading”; so don’t give up on me, I’m back!

Branded

blog

A few weeks ago I squeezed in attending a workshop for a handful of people within my organization selected to be a part of an inaugural protégé/mentoring program.  The workshop was titled “How to Brand Yourself” – – well it probably wasn’t really called that because that conjures up images of a branding iron and either horses or slaves, so I’m going to guess that they called it something else, but you get my meaning.  I arrived about 30 minutes late to the virtual workshop but what I caught was really very good. I wrote down on one of the hundreds of post-it notes that are scattered all over my dorm/office a challenge from the presenter … Fill in the blanks: “I want to be known for being ____ so that I can deliver _____ to _____.”  He dared us to complete that sentence as we attempted to discover our personal brand.  Moreover, he said, we could use it in both our professional and personal lives.

It’s been over 4 weeks since I attended that workshop and I find myself at times, looking for that scrap of paper so that I make sure I don’t forget to fill in those blanks.  You see, I really want to fill in the blanks.  It feels like something that not only I should do, but that I really need to do.

For the past 15 months, I have spent so much time being an over achieving employee, a bewildered student, a so-so mom, an elderly care-giver and let us not forget a jilted ex-lover that branding myself in a good light has been non-existent.  Week after week, month after month has gone by and I think to myself that I am grateful because my life is better than most.  But in my heart I feel like very little to rejoice over and I wonder what happened to my joy?  I believe I had it at one time, at least I think I did.

Since the time of Aristotle (throwback to last semesters’ Ethics course – – yikes), man has been asking the question that I now ponder of myself, why are we here, what’s the meaning of life, what’s my brand statement. Well maybe the great thinkers of all time weren’t quite thinking about the latter, but I believe they are all loosely tied to one another.  One day soon (I anxiously await), I will finish this undergraduate degree and I will put it behind me.  One day even sooner (sadly), I will stop having to baby my 17 year old.  She will be making grown up decisions on her own.  Sure, she will always need her mother, but not in the same way as today.  And someday soon (please God, sooner rather than later) I will stop being a Sourcing Manager for this nightmare of a position and I will advance to other work.  When all these things, that are so much a part of me now, wrap up, what will I look back on and say? Will I have found joy throughout the journey, so that when they come to an end I will say it was all worth it and I’m a better person because of it?  About seven years ago I dated a man who I believe was the one true love of my life. I remember saying to him, in his cozy condo, over large glasses of wine and even larger plates of pasta, “No matter what happens, no matter if this ends terribly, I will never regret one moment I spent with you. This was the best feeling I have ever had, exactly what I had always dreamed of, and I’ll never ever be sad it happened”.  I have dated a lot of men before and after him, and I’ve never said or even thought it with any other.

Makes me wonder, what else I feel that way about.  Being a mom? Of course, no brainer, my daughter is the most amazing person and the sole reason I haven’t tossed in the towel years ago.  Returning to school?  Yes, despite how much I hate the homework, and the expense and the juvenile classmates, I will never regret the decision to come back to college and finish my degree.  My job? Yes, even that.  Despite how much I absolutely hate pest control, office politics, and multi-client RFP’s, I will never regret the path that I took to get this role because I wouldn’t have advanced to this level without it.

I think the joy is there, underneath the layers of self-doubt and sadness I often feel, it’s there I just have to dig for it a little deeper some days, some months.  I have to be careful not to let my joy get over shadowed by the perils of a life unbranded.  So in that respect, I took my first stab tonight at my branding statements.  I think they may need a little tweaking and massaging here or there, but it’s a start. Let me know how you do with yours….

Professionally, I want to be known for being highly competent and trustworthy so that I can deliver positive, common sense results to people who trust and depend on me.

Personally, I want to be known for being worthy so that I can deliver joy and happiness to special people (and one day a special man) who loves me.

Sometimes I’m Proud

More often than not, if I were to say how I feel on any given day, it would be Sometimes I’m Overwhelmed or Sometimes I’m Filled with Self Doubt or Sometimes I Think I’m Super Fat.

Fortunately for me, the key word is “sometimes” — I don’t feel that way all the time or even often.  But every once in a while those nagging feelings of what I think I can’t do come to the surface and take hold like hungry ticks on a fat lap-dogs’ belly.

lifelineA few weeks ago I hoped that someone or something would throw me a lifesaver because I couldn’t breathe.  I am happy to say I found it bobbing up and down in the waters of my mind and I made it to dry land.  I do believe that writing this blog provides me with much-needed therapy.  I started this journey, not because I wanted to become a famous blogger, but because I felt it would motivate me and keep me from quitting.  That’s what it does.  Every post I write and every reply from one of my dear friends; every email I receive that someone new is “following me”, or “liked” my post is like a virtual hug that I feel here in my little “dorm room/office“.  I crave those hugs, I need them.  Sometimes I think I’m In over My Head but I know there are people reading this who believe without a doubt that I’m not; that “I got this”.

The good news is that I signed up for class again this semester! This is a 100% on-line class which fits in perfectly with my hectic life.  I’ve also taken a mental “chill pill'” when it comes to my new job in the new year.  I had to because I was quite literally  making myself sick with worry.  I am learning to say no to some things and how to say, I’m the boss and this is the way I want it to be done. Words I would never have thought I could say, never mind would feel the confidence to believe in after I say them.  But I do.  It’s empowering and it helps me get through the day and start to feel these small glimmers of, dare I say, — success (okay let’s just say, ‘not failures’).

Although its 22 degrees outside and a winter storm is blanketing my home like a scene from a snowpocalypse movie; technically its Spring in the world of academia.  So today its Spring for me too! This semester begins with a renewed sense of hope and a deep sense of gratitude for all of you who, whether you knew it or not, tossed me the life lines I needed.  I have to admit, I didn’t think I would be writing this message this way.  I thought it would be an explanation of why I had to take a short break, and filled with promises that I would return and not let myself down. But that’s not today’s message.  Today I’m still here, I’m still on this journey, and as I look back on the last few weeks, I have to say Sometimes I’m Proud Of Me.

How Ugly The N-word Can Be

August 26th was the first day of my fall semester class of Ethics and frankly it hasn’t been all that eventful.  The reality is college is pretty monotonous.  You search for classes on-line, you register for class, you pay for class (you cry), you take class, you hate your annoying classmates, you silently judge your professors, you study (or not), you take (and hopefully) pass exams, then you finish class, get your grade and you start all over again. The point of chronicling this journey isn’t to document the minutiae of each course I take, but rather to keep me energized to keep trudging through the minutiae by relating it to what’s happening in my life and in turn perhaps motivate some other student along the way.

Philosophy 1104: Philosophy and Social Ethics is a course designed, it feels, to thoroughly confuse me. Once we learn about a particular philosopher’s argument about morality we then quickly learn why that same philosophy is riddled with flaws and inconsistences.  It seems that the more mankind has explored the questions of “why are we here” and “what are we supposed to do with this life”, the more mankind has discovered that they have no real idea.  What does it mean to be moral? That appears to be the question that everyone from Plato, to Socrates, to Mills and Freud have tackled. Centuries later, their pontifications provide the backbone of modern day study which are applauded as ground breaking hundreds of years after their deaths.  What a legacy! In today’s day and age people post funny videos of their cats on YouTube to secure their long term legacy. Sad.

My professor, a very young, laid back Philosophy major studying for his doctorate, paints dozens of scenarios each Monday and Wednesday night in which our class explores ethical dilemmas.  So far we haven’t addressed the ethics of friendship but I find it easily applicable to the cases we have explored. Friendship is a funny thing, it requires something that other institutions like marriage, parenting, and family, don’t – – it requires you to stay in it because you want to, not because you have to.  With adult friendships you CAN walk away without much baggage. True it can be at times painful to end a friendship, but there isn’t a social stigma in breaking up with your friends the same way there is with divorcing your spouse, putting your kids up for adoption, or institutionalizing a family member. Friendship exists because it’s important to both parties in the friendship, not necessarily to anyone else or to the larger society.  If you don’t like something a friend does, if it feels wrong, or not quite right, or downright crappy then you have the option to forgive and forget or end the friendship.  You may lose other friends in choosing the latter option, but generally speaking, the choice is yours with minor long-lasting repercussions. Few people spend multiple years as adults in friendships that give them little to no positive return.  Simply put, if your friend’s not nice to you, then eventually you cut them loose, you move on.

In my first 8 weeks of Ethics, I have discovered that at the core of most philosophical teachings is getting to the root of what makes humans act and which actions are right and which actions are wrong.  It’s a fascinating discussion because in my mind, up to this point, what is wrong and right is everyone’s individual opinion.  If you think it’s wrong to jaywalk and so you never cross the street without the traffic light being green, then that’s what you hold important.  If your best friend crosses on the red, are they wrong? Or because it doesn’t matter to them, are they right and you’re wrong? Ah, the twists and turns of philosophical debate.  But jaywalking is a pretty lackluster example.  The scenario gets more challenging when we start talking about much more weighty topics such as abortion, gay rights, veganism, and corporal punishment — just to name a few. And even juicier still when it comes to that precarious state we call friendship. At what point do differing opinions of what is appropriate behavior for a friend become worthy of an “ethical” battle ground?

When I was in the third grade, my teacher, whom I adored at the time, Mrs. Stenhouse, returned my English assignment to me full of red ink.  She had circled the word “nice” a dozen times.  She pulled me aside and said, “You’re a good writer, but you have to stop using the word “nice”. There are thousands of words that can be used in its place, STOP using the word nice.  It’s overused and over done.” Clearly it was a hot button word for Mrs. Stenhouse, and it instantly became a hot button word for me. From that day on I tried very hard never to use “nice” to describe people in written or in spoken word.  It was a generic, all-encompassing word that had no backbone or meat behind it; it was for all intents and purposes the generic version of any number of better adjectives that would more aptly describe a person, place or thing. Impressive choices such as, winsome, copacetic, ingratiating, simpatico and so on and so on – – anything but that hateful N-word.   

Lately, however, I’ve been wondering if perhaps I have given “nice” a bad rap. Perhaps when I disowned it from my vocabulary, I somehow disowned it as a requirement for the basics of how people are supposed to treat me and how I should treat them.  Maybe what’s right about the word “nice” that I’ve let slip away, is that it’s just what Mrs. Stenhouse condemned it as — a very simple, basic way of describing the act of just being good and kind.  Perhaps, in fine literature that is a curse, but in relationships, it should be a fundamental cornerstone.  If you can’t expect your friends to be nice to you, then do any of the other adjectives that might describe the relationship even matter?

Roughly every two weeks, I buy myself a bouquet of fresh flowers for my kitchen table.  It’s a tradition I started when my boyfriend left me a year ago.  When I walk in my house, it’s the first thing I see as I enter and it makes me smile each and every time.  Yes, you guessed it; it’s a Nice feeling to see them.  I want to have that kind of reaction on the friends in my life and I want them to be that for me. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, I don’t think it needs any fancier word or description.

I think it would be great if we all just were nice to one another.

Sorry, Mrs. Stenhouse, Sorry Plato – – it may not be the most elegant prose or the most poignant philosophical musing, but that’s just how I feel.

When Doves Fly

Peaceful Dove

Peaceful Dove (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During my hiatus from blogging, I had the opportunity to attend a work related conference held in Austin, Texas.  This four day event produced at least one item that I wanted to share with you.  Granted there were plenty of other situations that took place that would be entertaining to share, however, they would need to appear in a very different blog under an assumed name!

Now onto the lesson…

Prior to arriving at the conference, we were sent a personality profile quiz.  A series of 18 questions each of which gave two answer options, for example, question 1:

I am:

a). more open to getting to know people better and establishing new relationships, OR

b). more likely to control who I get involved with and how well I get to know them

On the opening day of the conference, we were given our results; based on the answers to the 18 questions we were either DOVES, OWLS, PEACOCKS or EAGLES – essentially we were all D.O.P.E.S.; as the acronym spells out!

Let me first say, this isn’t my first rodeo, as I have taken many other personality profiles. I’m a big fan of good on-line horoscopes, I’ve shelled out cash to the neighborhood psychic for a reading on my future and I even had a bonafide PHD in Astrology use my birthdate and the alignment of the stars to tell me who I really am.  Ironically, I consider myself pretty intune to “who I am”.  I feel very comfortable telling anyone who cares to know, what I do well and where my faults lie.  So why then am I still so fascinated by these profile assessments?  If I’m never surprised by what they say, why do I continue to get so much meaning out of them?  Perhaps I am hoping that someone else will see something better in me and convince me to do the same.

Back to the lesson…

the four personality types panned out as follows:

  • The peaceful DOVE. The dove is people-orientated, loyal, friendly, hard-working and a great team player but tends to avoid change, confrontation, risk-taking and assertiveness.
  • The wise OWL. The owl is logical, mathematically minded, methodical and sometimes seen as a perfectionist. The owl can be slow to make decisions and inflexible if rules and logic says otherwise. Owls are not big risk takers but love detail.
  • The showy PEACOCK. The peacock loves talking, being the center of attention, has passion/ enthusiasm and is happy/ optimistic. Peacocks can be accused of talking too much, and aren’t good with detail or time-control.
  • The bold EAGLE. Eagles are dominant, stimulated by challenge, decisive and direct. Eagles can be blunt/ stubborn, can lose sight of the big-picture and can be insensitive to other people’s needs. Eagles are natural achievers.

Anyone that knows me (and/or is able to infer from the not so cleverly disguised blog-title) knows where I fell into this mix; I’m all DOVE.

But here’s the kicker, the take-away from this session however, was not about understanding who you are but understanding the people around you.  The moderator used a great opening statement, which he adopted from best selling author, Tony Alessandra, and I will paraphrase:

Most of us try to live our lives following the Golden Rule…”do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; but what’s more powerful is to follow the Platinum Rule…“Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”.

In essence, if you are dealing with someone who is a Peacock then treat them the way Peacocks want to be treated.  If I’m a Dove and I’m following the Golden Rule that I grew up on, then I will end up treating the Peacocks in my life the way I enjoy being treated.  While that might not be a bad, thing, the chances that I will get that Peacock to do what I want, are slim to none because they won’t respond to the same stimuli that I do.  Peacocks want to be treated differently than Doves (and Owls, and Eagles, etc..).  If I want to make progress with a Peacock, I need to give them what they want, not what I want.  This, my friends, was truly inspired thinking for me.

I have no stake in this testing profile and anyone can do a google search of Doves, Owls, Peacocks and Eagles and a thousand hits will appear with links to hundreds of sites.  Throughout this blog, I embedded a few links, if you care to click onto them and see what I’m talking about.   I also found a youtube video, that’s a fairly decent summary of what I experienced.  Take it or leave it, but I can attest that in my work life, my school life, and my sad to report, still quite unfulfilled love life, when this Dove flew to Texas, she learned a pretty invaluable lesson that I could not help but share.

Happy Flying All!

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Kalia Kornegay

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