It’s 2014…HAPPY NEW YEAR! So what did you learn in 2013? This past year has been interesting and it marks one year since I last blogged. I didn’t just walk away from the blog…I must have started about 20+ posts but I didn’t complete one. I thought about the blog constantly (I had some good stuff too!) but something always stopped me and by something, I mean life and by life…I mean ME! From January through August, everything that could go wrong did and I decided to have my own personal pity party/adult tantrum, you name it and I took it out on the blog, which of course, effected no one but me.
In August, having hit the proverbial bottom, I decided to make a change and really go for what I wanted. For far too long, I have been the person who dreamed big but talked myself out of my blessings. I was great at cheering everyone else on to success but for some reason, I wouldn’t let it happen to me. It’s been 2 1/2 years since I was fired and as I’ve written before, I always knew that I wasn’t going back into banking but the question was, “What was I going to do?” I started blogging because writing had been on my mind for a while but as I began to write, I realized that for me, I was going to need to do more than just blog to have my career go the direction I wanted it to go so I began taking a course to become certified as a Life and Business Coach and it was in one of my classes that I learned what my biggest issue is and why I have been stagnate for so long.
I’ve always been a HUGE procrastinator but as long as I worked for someone else, I was able to keep it in check. It wasn’t until I decided to go out on my own that I realized if I didn’t get a hold of this disease (Yes, I’m calling it a disease!), I would be paralyzed for the rest of my life never having fully accomplished what God put me on this earth to accomplish. So I confronted my issue head on and for the first time, spoke it in to existence outside of my head and what I learned was this:
1. My procrastination hid the real problem…I was an undercover perfectionist. If it wasn’t what I felt was “perfect”, I wouldn’t release or complete the project thus holding myself back.
2. I thought I did my best work when I was under the gun but I did my best work when I did the damn work! (I learned that from a recovering perfectionist!)
3. Procrastinating was nothing more than my own personal drama being carried out in my head.
4. Talking to others about my procrastination brought a sense of relief I didn’t even know I needed.
5. If I planned to be successful on my own, I was going to have to find a way to overcome my procrastinating ways. This has led me to begin writing things down in advance and making myself follow through on my commitments whether they are perfect or not.
So going forward, I now consider myself a recovering procrastinator/perfectionist! Everyone knows the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem and I am boldly coming forward and admitting my struggle. Being accountable to myself is going to be tough but it is the only way I will be able to move forward and accomplish the goals that I have for both myself and my new business. So CHEERS to all of the recovering procrastinators with perfectionist tendencies! Let’s make 2014 the year of RECOVERY and PROSPERITY!
This past weekend, I caught TJ Holmes back in the anchor chair, moonlighting as a substitute anchor on MSNBC and I have to say, he looked WAY more comfortable then he’s looked on his new show Don’t Sleep on BET. I watched Don’t Sleep and from the beginning, I new that something was off. The content was great and the meaning was there but it sat between two worlds and didn’t seem to have its own identity other than it was a show that focused on the African American community. Was it funny, serious…both? Whatever it was, it wasn’t clicking with viewers and BET hit the panic button.
I’ve been a fan of TJ’s since his days on the SF Bay Area news affiliate, KNTV. While serious, he was able to have fun delivering the nightly news and was a big reason many of us tuned in to his newscast. When he moved on to CNN, I was glad to see that his style of journalism was being seen by a broader audience because he made you want to watch the news. When I learned about him moving over to BET, I wasn’t as optimistic.
I was excited because it was TJ but knowing that BET, who for so long had pushed quality programming aside for the quick dollar that ratchet television brings was involved, I hoped for the best and like everyone else tuned in to the first episode. I got the premise of the show but knew right away that something was missing. The writing was strong but the show was missing that “Je ne sais quois” and for me it was boring. It was obvious, as the show progressed and the viewership went down, that I wasn’t the only one who noticed that the show just wasn’t working.
BET noticed, as well, and immediately panicked cutting the show to once a week for an hour instead of the four days a week originally scheduled and The President of BET, Debra Lee, came out swinging telling us that the shows ratings proved that the African American community didn’t want quality programming. Huh? I laughed hard at that one! We wanted quality programming but it seemed that BET forgot not only how to provide quality programming…they also forgot what quality programming looked like.
TJ as the host of Don’t Sleep didn’t seem to be connecting with the viewers the way he did as an anchor and the format while good on paper, wasn’t exactly what “we” as viewers were looking for in an all about “us” show. A show like Don’t Sleep needs time to find its voice and instead of hitting the panic button a month in, what BET should have done was give the show the time needed and the right people to tweak it instead of cutting it and declaring that the reason they don’t put out quality shows is because the viewers won’t support.
Seeing that TJ is making moves says that something is coming down the pipeline and while I want his show to succeed, I’m not mad at him for exercising his options.
It has been a few weeks since I’ve blogged because I was having my own personal pity party. I would visit my blog and even jot down notes but I couldn’t put my thoughts in order. As time went on, I also became upset with myself for not being able to formulate a sentence let alone a paragraph and so I avoided the blog altogether! It wasn’t until I was on Twitter and saw a tweet that requested that we reach out to a fellow blogger who had been contemplating suicide, that I found my own voice again.
As I left a comment on her site giving my two cents and trying to help her see the value in her life, I had no choice but to listen to my own words. At the end of my post I told her that it was time to pull up her boot straps and remember who she was before the stresses of marriage, kids and life took over. Funny how I could so clearly see how to “Fix” her but was in the midst of my own pity party where I had forgotten who I was and wanted to be before those very similar stresses had me running from myself.
It was so easy for me to tell someone else they were valuable and yet so easy for me to forget how valuable I was. For so long whether it was right or wrong, my “Worth” was attached to my work. I was a banker. I worked for a well known Community Bank and when I was announced anywhere, it was always as “Kirsten Upshaw, Manager of XYZ Bank.” So when I lost my job, I went through an identity crisis. All of a sudden, I was no longer who I had become known as and suddenly I felt lost. I was also embarrassed at myself because I had drunk the Kool-Aid and began to define myself through the eyes of my employer and once I lost my job, I, for a minute, looked at myself through their eyes and I felt like a failure.
Never mind that my “Failure” was brought about by decisions that were out of my control by people who never believed in me in the first place so you have to wonder why I or anyone would put much stock into an opinion that’s sole purpose was to do exactly what it did which was destroy. It took me a few weeks to come to grips with my new title of “Kirsten Upshaw” and a lot of soul searching because suddenly I had to figure out who I was without a corporate title. And just like when I lost my title of “Wife” after my divorce, I realized that being me makes me happy and anytime I have tried to please anyone and stepped outside of myself, I have ended up unhappy and trying to figure out how I got there.
So many times we follow and act how others tell us we should act knowing full well that it is a decision that will lead us directly where we ended up…starting over. Recognizing your worth and demanding that others do as well, is very important to your overall happiness. Just remember, giving yourself wholly to anything or anyone other than God, will never make a situation better so arm yourself with that knowledge and happily live your life the way you want to…not how they think you should. You are allowed to have your pity party but like my momma used to say–“You can’t wallow in self-pity forever.” At some point you have to get over it, pull yourself up and do what the Lord put you on this earth to do.
My last year of employment with the company I’d worked for for the past 10 years, was probably my most successful. I had learned how to find my niche in a market where big banks ruled, I’d learned how to market myself as the go-to person for community banking and the money the office had on deposit was more than it had ever had since its inception. All of this despite the fact that I had been going through the most tumultuous times with upper management who upon taking over, had decided that I had to go and that I didn’t know how to effectively run my office even though none of them had ever worked outside of a traditional banking environment and had no clue what was involved in running a bank located inside of a supermarket.
Add to their ignorance of how things operated, they quickly realized that my employees were some of the best trained and began to use me like a Major League Baseball farm team and move my fully trained employees to their favorite offices giving me what they thought were problem employees but were just employees that didn’t fit their mold or were people they were unable to “control”. I called them on it more than once even going as far as to use the “Farm Team” analogy just so they knew that I knew what was going on. It wasn’t until we went head to head on a lie…and they lost, that management backed off.
In the time that I was granted a reprieve, I was able to focus on my office and do exactly what was needed to make myself and the office successful. I become a more community minded member of the business community but my community involvement was strategic and specific to the needs of the office. Knowing that I did not have the flexibility to promote my office the way a traditional Office Manager did, I took to becoming very involved with the local Chamber of Commerce. I positioned myself to become their go to person to promote/sponsor events in conjunction with my office and strategically sponsored community events, school events and the local college. Within three years the office went from having, as low as, $6 million on deposit to having $20 million on deposit- a feat never before accomplished by any Office Manager at that particular office. Oh and did I mention that most of this was accomplished while working with a staff of two people? Half of what the office should have had working in it to run efficiently.
All of this success, while marginally recognized, meant nothing to upper management. After months of being undermined and not receiving the support that was not only needed but considered mandatory, by said management, finally caught up to the office and as the head of that office me-the hammer dropped and when questions about who was ultimately responsible for the issues the office had (which were mostly due to having insufficient staff) the answer started to become clear that there were decisions made above my pay grade that contributed to the office’s failures. It became obvious, very quickly, that in order to save face, someone had to go and that someone became me.
Even though I was fired and more importantly, ready to go, I am glad that I can look back on my work with pride. While I was unable to see my vision through to completion, I am able to say that despite the setbacks and the underhandedness, my office was more successful than it had ever been and I was able to walk away with with the knowledge and the know-how that can be applied to any future endeavor and it was all a result of my hard work and dedication–a feat that no one can ever take away.
You never hear how divorce effects children from the second family. There is a lot of information on how divorce effects the children of the divorced family but what about the new family? Does anyone realize that the effects of the first divorce are far-reaching and continue to affect families affiliated with the children whose parents are divorced? I learned first hand how my divorce from my daughter‘s father was still effecting my family and it wasn’t my daughter who was struggling but my son who was from a new relationship.
When my ex-husband and I divorced, my daughter was 20 months old. While initially, she was affected by our divorce, as she got older, her memories of us being a family faded and her memories of her father and I have always been as divorced parents. When she was six, I got pregnant with my son and while his father and I chose not to marry, we’ve lived together since he was born so all he has ever known was a two parent home. As he got older and became more aware of our family dynamic, I noticed early how he was effected by his sister leaving for her weekend and summer visits to her fathers home.
The first time he noticeably reacted to her absence was when he was a year old and she’d been gone for her summer visit. He was very mobile so we kept her bedroom door shut but what no one realized is that by keeping her room closed, he thought she was locked in the room and one night he walked by her room and knocked on the door. We laughed and told him she wasn’t there but of course he didn’t understand . As he learned to talk and understand that “Sissy” was leaving for the weekend, he would question where she was and try and understand this every other weekend phenomena of his sister leaving him but it was a struggle.
By age three, he reacted to her leaving by crying and constantly asking–“Where’s Sissy?” or confirming what we told him about her whereabouts by saying– “Sissy’s at Renzo’s?” (his name for her father). There was constant discussion of where his sister was because he just didn’t understand. He didn’t understand that I used to be married to another man and he was confused that he and his sister had different fathers. It was at this point that I really started to understand how my actions were affecting not only the child of divorce but the child who loved the child of divorce.
When he turned four it was obvious that he had abandonment issues. He had anxiety about her leaving and he would leave the room so that we couldn’t see the tears in his eyes. Talking to her on the phone made him sad and when she left for her six week visit with her father, he acquired an eating disorder. Yes I said a four year old had an eating disorder and the disorder was he wouldn’t eat! Everyone told me that it was a phase he was going through and that it would blow over but no matter how they tried to convince me that everything would be alright, the stress of trying to make him eat anything other than cereal was wearing on the entire family.
I even had a breakdown when he was crying about his sister being gone and I flashed and told him to basically “suck it up!” I got so upset I started to cry and it was at that moment that I saw how the fallout from my divorce had reached all the way to my new family. It hadn’t crossed my mind to worry about how he might feel because honestly, my focus was on my daughter. She was the one whose family had been broken up and she had never complained so him having such visible reactions to my daughter’s situation was alarming.
I began to recognize that his “eating disorder”was his way of maintaining some semblance of control in his life. I had watched my 20 month old daughter have a similar reaction when she and I moved and she had to start staying with her great-grandparents while I worked but she transitioned easier than he did. He was and still is very adverse to change and it wasn’t until he went to pre-school and began to have his own life outside of the home that he finally calmed down.
Being around other children helped him and slowly he let go of his “eating disorder”. By the time his sister went away for her summer visit, he was so engulfed in his pre-school “social life” and his impending year as a Kindergartner that he was able to let go and have fun. One year later, he has made great strides in overcoming his abandonment issues and he has taken control of his own social calendar by setting up outings with his grandparents by and for himself.
Raising my son has taught me that the effects of divorce are continuous no matter the affiliation the child has with the divorcing parents. I have learned that a broken family is a broken family and it is paramount that people realize that decisions made today will most certainly effect the generations of tomorrow.
If anyone is familiar with Donnie Mcclurkin‘s song Shake the Devil Off, this week has been that kind of a week and I am feeling the need to do a little shimmy! We all have times in our lives where the weight of everything is suddenly palpable and no matter which way you look, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out…that’s the kind of week I’m talking about!
When I am faced with adversity, I always try to find the meaning in why I am going through my “hard time” and finding that meaning leads to me having a lot of heart to heart talks with God. The hardest thing to do when you are in a rut, of any kind, is staying positive and when I find myself in a situation that is just too much, my initial response is to solve the problem. I am the first born and a natural problem solver (especially for everyone else) so I am always thinking of a way to find a solution to whatever the issue of the day may be but finding a way to stay positive while searching for the solution is sometimes the hardest thing to do.
There is always a way out of a problem and sometimes the way out is sitting back and letting go. The saying “Let go and let God” is easy to say but not so easy to do and it has taken me years to learn how to give control over to God. Even now, when I am faced with a stressful situation, I tend to immediately launch into “Fix-It” mode and I have to remind myself that this fight isn’t mine and instead of trying to fix-it, what I need to do is just sit down and watch how things play out.
It wasn’t until I lost my job that I fully understood what it meant to “Let go” and once I adopted a laid back attitude about my situation, I noticed how nervous it made other people. When you are put in a situation that would normally send you into a “worry frenzy” and those close to you see you respond in a calm manner, there is obvious confusion and I confused the mess out of my friends and family!
What they were witnessing was trust and faith at work. I trust in the Lord and his ability to see me through and I have faith that being in this situation is for a reason. I’ve been through too much to for me to believe that he is going to leave me and in those moments when I momentarily forget that God is in control, inevitably, doubt and fear creep back in and I begin the stressing process and it isn’t until I’m about half way through that I remember myself.
I am in the position I’m in so that I can get to the position where I’m supposed to be and for that reason alone, I will continue to to work on myself and when necessary, do a little shimmy and shake the devil off!
Every family makes excuses for bad behavior and mine is no exception. My paternal grandfather, whom I’ve met twice in my life, was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and my initial reaction was one of indifference. As I wrote in the post Demanding Reparations From Our Deadbeat Fathers, I have struggled with how I feel about this man whose last name I carry but have never had a relationship with and once I became a wife, parent and then divorcee, I had even more contempt for this man who willingly ended his relationship with his eight year old son, my father, because he was starting fresh with his new wife.
This is where the family excuses began. I was always told that after my grandfather got married, he visited my father for a while and then his wife started to have issues and in order to keep his home life calm, he wrote off my father. Now…let me breath before I continue…as a kid, I fell for this story and I blamed his wife for his actions but as I said, once I became an adult who had to make adult decisions, I began to realize how stupid this sounded and what really amazed me was how willing EVERYONE was to accept his actions. To me, this man was a sorry excuse for a human being!
When my divorce was finalized, my priorities were that my child was o.k. and that she continued to have a relationship with her father. When he started dating, he made sure that his serious girlfriends had a relationship with his child and that they understood they were a package deal. When he remarried, his new wife treated her like her own and for that, I was grateful, so when I heard family members try to invoke the “Excuse clause” for my grandfather, I reminded them that my child’s father managed to remarry and still remain in her life so why are we acting like it wasn’t possible for my father to have had a relationship with his father?
When my grandfather made the decision to discontinue his relationship with his son, it was made by him. No one else had any power. My grandfather had an opportunity to man up and take care of his responsibilities and he didn’t. What he did was go on and create a faux family that didn’t include my father, his child that everyone knew existed and chose to ignore. As I sit here, I wonder how his two sons by his wife view him? Do they think he was a real man or deep down do they think, like I do, that he fell short?
The sins of my grandfather didn’t just effect my father. His sin, I’m sure, has gone on to effect all of his children and I’m inclined to believe the person most greatly affected was him. For 58 years, he has had to live the fact that he was a failure as a parent and there is nothing that can be done to change that. So while I grapple with how I feel about the revelation that he isn’t doing well, I have decided to release some of my anger (Notice I said some…I am a work in progress!) so that I can move on and support whatever decision my father makes with regards to contacting him.
For 58 years, my family has excused and accepted his neglect and it is time to stop. My grandfather has cemented his legacy and he has had to live with the fact that he failed at the most important job in the world. So when his story is told, he will forever have an asterisk next to his name and “Deadbeat” will most surely precede the title “Father“.
Starting over is hard to do but it could be the beginning to a whole new you! I know…it sounds corny, but why don’t we embrace starting over? I guess it’s because starting over represents change and change is sometimes scary but what if change meant you were about to embark on finding a better you? We all talk a good game about wanting to “Find ourselves” but when the time comes for the hard work to begin, we balk and sometimes run from the very thing we claimed we wanted.
I am no longer running. For years, I have talked about wanting to write and I always managed to talk myself out of it by using my favorite excuse of–“I’m too tired because I’m always working”. This was a true statement, I was ALWAYS working but really, I was ALWAYS procrastinating! In a previous post, I talked about my propensity to procrastinate and how it has affected me my entire life but what wasn’t discussed was why I was procrastinating. If I did what I claimed I wanted to do, which was write, I would have to first believe in myself and more than anything, that is what I was lacking.
I knew I had the talent to write but because I didn’t believe in myself, I blocked my own blessing and it took the Lord to step in and save me from me. It’s crazy that I had to get fired in order for me to realize what I was supposed to be doing and it’s even more crazy that even after I got fired, I still procrastinated by saying that I had to have A, B and C in place for it to be right. A, B and C never fell into place.
What did fall into place was my being faced with running out of money. Now I know that starting a blog wasn’t going to lead to immediate riches but in order for me to become the writer I wanted to be, I knew that blogging was the medium I was supposed to use to begin my career as a writer, so it is funny that even knowing this, I still put it off. I didn’t fully believe in me.
I remember the first promotion I received which wasn’t expected. I had been working hard but only because I was a hard worker and while my ultimate goal was always advancement, I wasn’t, by any means, looking to advance having been in the job as an assistant manager for two years. There had been some rumblings that there was going to be movement in the office and all indicators pointed to me being moved to an office that was further away. When the news was delivered that I was not the employee who would be moving and that I was also being given the manager position, I was shocked to say the least. When I got in my car and processed what I had just been told, I said out loud–“Well…I didn’t see that coming!” When God decides you are ready to transition to your next calling whether you see it coming or not, it is going to happen and if God believes in you why don’t you believe in you?
I am finally ready to believe in me. No matter what is thrown in my direction to deter me from my calling I am going to stay focused and apply the same skills that earned me my surprise promotion. While it is scary to be starting over, I am excited about what starting over means and I look forward to the new challenges I am about to face because I know that where I am today is in God’s plan and there is no arguing with that!
I always hated completing the self-assessment for my employer. Not because I didn’t want my work to be reviewed but because I hated having to remember everything I’d done throughout the review cycle that proved why I felt I was worthy of receiving an extra $2.25 in my paycheck! I knew it was important but it was the act of validating myself that bothered me. What is funny about me not wanting to self-assess my work, is that in every other aspect of my life, I am all about self-assessing myself and those around me. I’m convinced that I’d have made a great Psychologist!
I didn’t start self-assessing until after my divorce and the break-up of my family. Both were very traumatic events that led me to do a lot of soul searching. What was my role, if any, and could it have played out differently? How would I handle things differently next time, if there was a next time or how can I make sure that I don’t find myself in this situation ever again? These are just some of the thoughts I struggled with answering.
Self-assessing helped. I learned a lot about my likes and dislikes and I learned what I would and would not accept in both my personal and professional relationships. If I am wrong or act “out of pocket” with my significant other, by self-assessing (unfortunately and usually after the fact), I have been able to decipher what I could and should have done differently so that I can avoid mishandling the issue in the future and find a more appropriate, calm manner (I’m a work in progress on that!) to communicate.
I had an employee who could have benefited from a little “self-assessment”. She went around ruining every positive relationship she had because she couldn’t function unless she was surrounded by dysfunction. I tried everything I could think of to make her realize her potential and teach her that there was another way to interact without creating drama but I never got through and in the end, she tried to take me down as well! She was eventually moved to another office where she promptly began the “same old song and dance” until she was managed out of the company. How sad that because she couldn’t get ahold of and acknowledge her issues, all aspects of her life were effected.
Through my personal therapy sessions it has become more clear to me where I want all of my personal relationships to be and I understand the amount of work it will take to get them there. Most importantly, I am taking the time to focus on making me a better me and though I have and will falter at times, I’ve never stopped working on the end result.
Living through your child has been called a mistake and yesterday, as my friend and I met for a celebratory breakfast to celebrate the return of our children to their educational babysitters (it was the first day of school), we discussed the plans for the school year. We began to talk about the plans we’d had for our children when they were younger and how those plans have had to change as the kids, now between the ages of 13-18, have become people and started to come into their own. They have discovered their likes and dislikes and have no problem voicing those opinions and said opinions don’t always go with the plan we envisioned for them when they were five and six years old.
When my daughter was in the 2nd grade, I found a Performing Arts Middle/High School that I felt would be perfect for the little musician I’d created. She’d been playing the piano for three years by then and knowing how important music had been to me in school (it was the only thing that kept me there) I wanted to make sure that she had every opportunity to not only perfect her skills as a musician, but also have a more positive experience with school than I’d had. We talked about it all the time. I took her on a virtual tour of the campus via their website to generate excitement and she’d even gone to summer camp at the school so by 6th grade, she decided that she would like to go there for high school…I was so happy!
The plan was on track and by the time 7th grade rolled around, we began to look at the admission and audition requirements. She seemed really focused and talked about what she’d like to do when she got there and then something happened…she started to think for herself and her thoughts were no longer in line with the plan I’d (I mean we’d) been working on since she was 8 years old.
Our conversations slowly changed from music to boys and wanting to become a cheerleader and once she got on the kick of wanting to become a cheerleader…it was over. My child is very persistent and once she decides she wants to do something, she stalks you and (insert activity), so all I heard about was cheer, how to get involved and when I balked at the cost, she informed me about the ability to fundraise to bring the final cost down. She was passionate and prepared!
My initial response was “No.” No because cheer isn’t in the plan. No because you need to stay focused on your music and getting in to the performing arts school. Just no! But she wasn’t willing to accept my no and I started to realize that if I didn’t allow her to figure out who she was and wanted to be, I would be guilty of forcing her to live the life I wanted her to live, the life I wished I’d lived and not the life she was living.
Is it wrong that you want to give them the opportunities you wished you’d had? The whole point in parenting is you take the good and the bad from your own experiences so that you can more effectively teach your child but when you don’t allow them to have a say in what they want to do, you are indeed, encroaching on their ability to grow into a well-rounded adult with the ability to make sound decisions.
I gave in and allowed my daughter to cheer for the community youth cheer squad. I’ve begun to reevaluate my approach and I’ve begun to look at other options for high school in case she decides that the performing arts school isn’t the route she wants to take. Allowing her to have input on her life has made her feel more empowered and she is happy which is leading to success in school and in the end, that is all any parent really wants.