What Can You Do?


Last week, I attended three days of meetings with our office’s Employee Council. Most of what we discussed will be of no interest to anyone outside our office. However, there was one little session that our meeting facilitator, Brian, held. Actually, he interrupted a rather heated discussion to teach us a lesson.

You see, we are all rather concerned about our work, our offices (we are actually spread out all over the country), and our productivity. Everyone has some sort of passion about our organization.

Yet for the past 6 months or so, we feel like we have been spinning our wheels. We have been limited by various factors – some of which are completely outside of our control – and the results of which are a very frustrated Employee Council.

Brian drew the graphic above on the white board at the front of the conference room and said he was going to remind us of something very basic. We all have very large issues with which we are concerned – for example, the future of our office and organization. However, each of us individually cannot really make major changes in the organization as a whole.

What we CAN do are the small things that are within our sphere of influence. And as we take those little steps, we have the chance to grow our sphere of influence.

It might be obvious, but it really struck me.

How much have I allowed myself to get bogged down the last six months by the bigger picture and huge issues of this world? Yes, it is important to see the bigger picture and understand the issues, but I need to focus on doing the small steps that will open other opportunities for me to be even more productive and influential for my organization and my world.

So that is where I paused this weekend. I’m in charge of keeping our meeting notes during the 2017 year and I spent several hours this weekend typing up days of meeting notes and thinking through all of what has happened. I also figured out several things about my coworkers and organization, among other things. 😉

For now, my first steps in this process are to help our council chairwoman keep up on the minutia of the Council’s actions and documentation for the year. I’m going to stay on top of my projects at work, and I’m going to try to manage my life away from work in such a way as to allow my small fiber arts business to grow as much as possible.

Oh, and of course, I’m going to spend a bit of my time off enjoying the mountains and helping others do the same.

So what small steps can you take?


Saturday Reflection

Guess a man needs an upset now and then to remind him that he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does.
-Dick Proenneke, One Man’s Wilderness

It has been such a roller coaster this year so far. I’ve read One Man’s Wilderness many times since I bought the book on my first trip to Alaska ten years ago. We need these hiccups, especially in our interactions with Mother Nature, to help us remember our place. We are part of the greater ecosystem, not in charge of, despite the common perspective of our culture.

Yesterday’s experience with the older lady from south Texas on the ice made the quote stand out further to me.

My fear of going down the steep, narrow section of trail, and the woman’s fear of ice and falling, were enough to make me ponder. We each need to get out there and test ourselves. We aren’t all-powerful and we can only conquer what we try.

To Colonel Brandon….

The last two days have been foggy. Last night after work, I turned on Sense and Sensibility. Emma Thompson won the Golden Globe for that screenplay. It had a cast full of famous actors. But the deep, melancholy voice of Alan Rickman just did something to the role of Colonel Brandon.

Yes, I have read the original novel. I am a huge fan of Jane Austen’s work.

Oh, Alan Rickman.

You know, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth always play the leading love interests. And who can resist Hugh Grant’s blue eyes?! Be still my heart.

But I looked tonight and I have 11 movies in my DVD collection where Alan Rickman plays a key role. I just love the voice, the facial expressions and his brooding complexity. He was such an amazing talent.


And, of course, Emma Thompson is also a favorite. I think I have 11 movies where she plays a central role.

Another touching tribute to a favorite, from a favorite:


Tonight, I started in on the Harry Potter films. Year #1 is done. Tomorrow after work, while packing for my upcoming move, I’ll watch year #2.

Damn, what a loss of talent. I am sad.

2016: The year that will NOT be my circus.

Today is New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2015. I had to work today, and although it was slow at work, I had two conversations that stood out. They stood out because I said the exact same thing to two different people facing two different situations.

First, I have a friend who has a confusing man-friend situation. Single ladies out there, you know exactly what I mean. She is frustrated by several aspects of their relationship (or non-relationship, as it seemed to me). I told her to stop beating herself up for the sake of someone who treats her the way he does. I told her to repeat after me, “This is NOT my circus. This is not my circus,” whenever she felt herself getting pulled into a troublesome ‘situation’ with said man-friend. Walk away, girlfriend! You will be happier and healthier in the long run.

Second, a friend/coworker called me at work today to check if I saw a message left for me. I had seen the message, and our conversation soon turned to work-related venting. Apparently, she was rather frustrated that other coworkers of our had not followed procedures, not informed her of a specific detail of a work assignment, and left her (by omission) out of the loop such that she didn’t accomplish something she should have accomplished earlier this week. (Incidentally, I also assured her, had I not been out of town on vacation, the situation would have never happened. Little good that did. She reminded me I needed the vacation as much as anyone.)

I told her to remember that this isn’t her circus and she can’t be blamed for someone else’s proven inadequacy. But here’s the kicker about friend #2: she is leaving her current work situation for (we hope) greener pastures, just as I am about to do. I reminded her that it’s going to be over soon. She’s moving on to a place where she can affect positive change and not just stagnate in the quagmire we find ourselves in here at our present location.

A bit later in the conversation, we came upon another topic of frustration to both of us and I repeated my earlier utterance: This is not my circus. I need to walk away and so do you.

Now at the risk of using too many cliches, let me tell you why this isn’t my circus:

  1. I cannot fix stupid.
  2. I cannot make people do understand their job, much less do their job.
  3. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Equally so is the lack of knowledge.
  4. These people are, believe it or not, adults. I don’t get paid enough to babysit my adult coworkers. One other coworker asked me last week what, if anything, will happen when I leave my job because no one else in the park has my skill set. (I really believe she was trying to point out the obvious, although I might not have been her real target audience.)
  5. All hell seems to break loose here on a regular basis. It stresses me out. It prevents me from being productive, which in turn, makes me feel lousy – physically and mentally.

So I must remind myself that I am a short-timer here and this is most definitely NOT my circus.

On that thought, I will begin the new year. I have a LOT of work to do in the next three weeks before I move to my new job. I am attempting to pare down my personal belongings before moving; I am trying to finish up several knitting orders and knitted projects/gifts; I am hoping to finish a book or two; I am trying to work towards my goal of drinking more water so I’m not dry and dehydrated this winter as I move back up to a higher altitude.

We all have goals for the new year. I have lots of things I want to accomplish. But for now, I’ll be content if I can just remember, “This is not my circus,” and just walk away.

The Rebel With Blue Hair

“It’s about something that’s bigger than me, or any single act of legislation. This is about a matter that should be of the highest importance to every American: my hair.” ~Elle Woods, Legally Blonde II

While that bold statement certainly made fictional Congressmen squint in confusion, it’s truth is beyond doubt: my hair is important.

Ok, so I’m NOT the girl who ‘gets her hair did’ every few weeks. Actually, I’m lucky if I get my hair cut twice a year. I’ve never dyed my hair, and I’ve only had highlights put in once. (I also lived without indoor plumbing in various cabins in Alaska for 25 months, but that’s another story.)

I’m just happy if my hair stays out of my face. Beyond that, I’m fairly apathetic.

Until the last couple of weeks.

Having stereotypes shoved down my throat for the last year has made me a very stressed and angry person. And in two months, I’m moving back to a situation where I can be myself.


But here’s the kicker: I have this evil streak, this devil’s advocate part to my personality that needs to be let loose. It has been pent up for the past 12 months, in the fear that if I showed my real personality, I would get in trouble. Texas, at least here in the Panhandle, is easily the most closed society in which I have ever lived. I’m scared to tell people I am NOT Baptist, I wasn’t a teenage mother, and I don’t eat red meat.

So when I move back to the real world in January, I’m cutting my hair and dying part of it blue. I just need to make the statement that I am free.

To that end, you should care about my hair.