Thursday, December 29, 2011

Letting Go

I sit on the floor, my legs splayed and I attempt to stretch. Without really realizing it, I usually take this time to compare my flexibility at 46 with what I had as a dance-troupe member at 16...and then I tighten up.

It makes stretching harder. It takes longer.

I decided to try something new. I emptied my mind and just stretched. I stopped berating myself and started to rejoice in the fact that I'm here and it's now. 30 years ago is just that. It's 30 years gone. This minute, though, is pretty fucking awesome. Look at me. I rule!

I felt my muscles lengthen and relax into the bend. I breathed. I felt warmth flow through the tendons and sinews, causing them to lengthen. I stretched further. My forehead loomed close, not quite on my knee but closer than it's come in a very long time.

By letting go, I stared at my knee, now up close and personal. How long will it take for me to rest my head on it comfortably?

I couldn't say....but sooner if I can just remember to let go.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All Done But The Cryin'

It happened on a Tuesday afternoon. After 3 PM. The chilling words, "Can I see you in my office?" resonated quickly through my ears and into my tense body. I walked in, sat down and proceeded to hear that my fragile career was over.

I wasn't laid off. I wasn't "let go." There wasn't anything delicate about it. I was fired. Fired. FIRED. If my heart weren't pounding and in my throat as I listened to the crimes the company had against me, I might've thought about Mr. Spacely. I surely felt like George Jetson. Only on The Jetsons, Mr. Spacely always hires George back. I wasn't going to be hired back. I knew that just as surely as I knew I would be fired. By reportedly the "nicest woman on the planet."

Hmm. I never saw that side of her. She barely spoke to me. Unless it was to rip on my copy. It all sucked...until she replaced a word, rearranged some sentences and then became genius.

*insert angels choir singing*

My boss actually did not fire me. She let the HR person on the phone do it. "We've decided that your performance just wasn't there, and so you're being fired for lack of performance. Your last day of work will be immediately. You're to gather your things, turn in your badge, make your way to the door and you'll receive your last check on the 16th."

I'd already carted my things home before Thanksgiving.

They wanted to watch me cry. They kept staring at me to see if maybe, just maybe I'd lose my cool. They wanted to witness a breakdown of epic proportions and then report back to the rest of the team how they cracked my veneer. I gave them nothing. Nothing at all.

I walked back to my desk, gathered my Batman lunchbox together and handed over my computer's passwords. They stood gaping at my calm demeanor. "I saw this in a cartoon once. I think I got it," I explained as I donned my coat with what I hoped to be total nonchalance.

They stood. Silent. Unwilling to meet my eyes. I spoke to my coworkers who never, ever wished me a good morning in the 240 days that I was there. "Goodbye. I'm being fired. I guess it's been nice. Good luck."

They also stared at me as I turned over the security key. If I needed a reference, one man offered...lamely. He meant well. "Thanks," I nodded at him curtly. Now he was going to be pleasant, friendly?

I hooked my purse over my shoulder, grabbed my Batman lunchbox and walked out. I didn't look back. Mercifully, the elevator came quickly to take me away from the many sets of eyes that now watched my departure. The doors closed and I relaxed. It was over.

I didn't have to drive into work telling myself to be brave and not to cry.
I didn't have to keep trying to forge relationships with people who cared nothing for me.
I didn't have to hear people invited to lunch without me.
I didn't have to beg my teammates for input on what to do, how to do it and how to improve upon it.
I didn't have to work with an art director who didn't care that columns weren't lining up and images weren't straight and charts were impossible to read because she didn't want to format them.
I didn't have to hear how badly I sucked unless, of course, I deserved it.

Despite the advantages of my termination, it still stung. I shook hands with the maintenance crew and then walked to my car. I let the tears fall. When the folks six floors up wouldn't be able to see me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fear is a Four-letter Word

I once heard Tony Robbins talk about fear. He said, and I'm paraphrasing greatly, that fear is a primary motivator. It can make us do more or avoid more than any other emotion we have. We let it take control. We let it prevent us from achieving our goals. We let it keep us from our potential.

Notice the words: We LET it.

Fear has to have permission to manipulate us. In other words, we have to let it in and take control. We have to lower our guard, and we have to stand by quietly as it changes the natural order of our lives. We have to continue to sit by passively as fear runs the show. Fear tells us what to say, what to do, how to live, who to talk to.

Bravery, Tony Robbins said, is not continuing on with your life with the absence of fear. Fear is a pretty important part of life. It tells us when we need to keep our hands off the hot stove. Bravery, instead, is actually operating in spite of the presence of fear. It's allowing us to put our hands out over the hot stove to detect its heat and to figure out how we can handle it without getting burned. In other words, bravery is walking around fear and then giving it a big FUCK YOU.

Well...Tony never actually said "Fuck you" but you get my drift.

Having the ability to defy fear's iron grip of control is what bravery is about. And for the last several weeks, I've had to remind myself to be brave.

It's my mantra. Be brave. Don't let fear take over. I'm in a situation where there is no way to win. There are only degrees of loss. How I lose will be more important than the loss itself, and so I will have to go down swinging. I will have to do everything in my power to demonstrate my abilities to fight...and then there will be a time to concede the loss.

And so I tell myself: Lose with grace. Lose with your head held high and with the understanding that there are times when you cannot win, but the way you lose speaks volumes about who you are and what you're made of....and sister, you're better than this.

Be brave. Wrench the control from fear and those around who want to see me cowed, beaten down and enslaved. Call their bluff and let them know that they might have all of the strings, but what they don't know is that I've cut the ties.

They have nothing over me....and once again, my loss will be my gain if I can just be brave.