Friday, May 28, 2010

The Echo Effect

26084_1378231784683_1498536849_1058348_1326368_nWhat causes an echo exactly?
The persistence of sound after the source has stopped.

When can you hear an echo best?
When it is quiet and other sounds are absorbed.

God my mom could nag me.  Do this, do that. Did you do your homework?  Did you check the oil in your car?  That skirt is too short.  Be nice to your sister.  She could be unrelenting with her constant badgering.  In college it was more of the same but the subjects changed a little.  Are you sure about that boy? You got another speeding ticket?  Why did you drop that class?

My mother was also my most reliable cheerleader.  Mom attended every choir concert, every orchestra concert and every dance recital.  During my softball phase that quickly faded, she was at every game.  She was PTA president, read books to my kindergarten class, made my Halloween costumes by hand and encouraged me when I struggled with algebra.  As an adult she supported my decisions, even when she knew they would turn out badly.  When I called to cry on her shoulder she was there with words of encouragement and never an "I told you so".  She answered the phone EVERY time I called, no matter where she was or what she was doing.  She could have been in a meeting with Microsoft executives (not uncommon in her line of work) and she would answer anyway.  I would hear her say,"one second, it's my daughter".  I would tell her to stop doing that and her response would be that the meeting can wait.

When my mother and I would argue about something we would talk loudly and quickly.  It was like each of us wanted to make sure we were heard.  Half the time though I don't think either of us really heard the other person or their perspective.  I doubt either of us really felt like we were being heard.

The other night, while I was putting the boys to bed, Beau asked me if Nana Linda could still talk.  I tried to explain to my sweet boy that Nana does not talk to us like we talk to each other.  I tried to describe how he can listen for Nana Linda to talk to him.  Then he put one hand on my arm and the other on my mouth to shush me and whispered "listen, can you hear her now?".  I can hear her.  Sometimes her voice is faint like she is whispering something in my ear.  I wonder if those are the most important things she wants me to know.  Those messages that are hard to hear, literally and figuratively.  They require that I stop what I am doing and pay close attention.  Other times I hear her offering words of encouragement at just the right time.  Most often though, I hear her at night, when the boys are in bed and the house is quiet.  Her voice is clear as day.  She is nagging, she is encouraging and she is loving.  She is just as persistent now as she was in life.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

intimidation_2_smallThe other day I heard the funniest thing.  It wasn't something one of the boys said, which is usually the case.  The funniest thing I have ever heard came out of my sister's mouth.  The fact that my sister said something funny is worth writing about in the first place.  In case you haven't been paying attention, I am the funny one.  Just ask me, I will tell you. 

It all started with a conversation about how I had confronted someone that was not speaking to me in a respectful tone.  I was explaining to my (older) sister that I had been dealing with this issue for about six months and was just fed up with it.  I was tired of being spoken to and treated like a six year old.  I was tired of being second guessed.  When I finally addressed the individual, I was not confrontational by any stretch of the imagination.  I thought I handled myself very professionally and with tact. 

I made a comment during my story that this was totally out of character for me.  After all, I hate to rock the boat.  I hate to make others uncomfortable.  I hate confrontation.  I hate it so much that my heart pounds, my pits sweat and I talk too fast when confronted.

Wait for it.  This is when it gets funny.  My sister then says to me, "if you don't like confrontation, why do you scare the hell out of me?"  I could not contain my laughter.  Then I asked if she was drunk.  She could have been; it was after five!  My sister begins to defend her sobriety by describing my intimidating nature.  I asked her to elaborate.  The only thing I intimidate are pedestrians when I try to parallel park downtown. 

The only other time I have been called intimidating was by a former employee of mine.  It was 2000 and a young man by the name of Mark worked for me and Brad as a video editor.  Mark was having some reliability issues that were not only affecting his attendance, but his ability to meet project deadlines.  Brad and I planned a meeting with Mark to discuss
our concerns.  Much to our surprise, he arrived on time for once...with his mother. 

As we sat down to discuss the situation, Mark was silent.  Mother did all the talking.  When I finally had an opportunity to jump in the one sided conversation, I asked Mark what is mom was doing there.  I didn't put it like that really, I just politely asked Marked why he felt it necessary to bring his mom. His response was short and sweet; "you scare me".

Since this was the first time I had heard anything like this, I laughed even harder and longer than when my sister offered this assessment.  I can only imagine that my laughter compounded the situation but I just don't see it.  This people must have me mistaken for someone else.

Isn't it interesting that what we see in ourselves is completely different than what others see in us. Good, bad or indifferent, I am trying not to dwell too much on what others think of me.  I think that has contributed to my problem of not speaking up in the past.  I was afraid others would be unhappy with me or think differently of me.  There are people out there that truly do not care what others think of them and I am a little envious.  I do care what others think, but I will no longer let that affect my ability to communicate my feelings or do what is right.

I kind of like the idea that some think I am intimidating though.  I will go with that for a while.