How To Deal

Kairi during her visit to Chicago

I am so happy that today is Thursday because this means I only have one more day to deal with work.

As predicted, I came back to the office with more fires than I could possibly put out in one day. Never mind the fact that after our house guests left yesterday afternoon, I already signed on to my work emails just to play a little catch-up before physically returning today. And never mind that today should have really been spent at our monthly leadership class.

So yeah … the dedicated employee in me thought it best that I stay in my cubicle today and work diligently at putting out fires. And the dedicated employee in me will return again tomorrow to do the same thing again.

One of the things I dealt with today was the frustration that some of my staff members voiced over issues that have been ongoing since the beginning of the year. And while I understand their frustration and have often allowed them more than enough time to yammer on about how unreasonable they feel certain things are … there are some days (like today, for instance) that it’s just not the right time to go on and on about these things.

Now before I hear about how I shouldn’t let them complain about the way things are and that I, as their direct supervisor, should just demand that they do what I tell them to do (after all, they’re getting paid to do this work, right?) … That’s just not who I am.

I am not a dictator and I am not a micro-manager. I have always been someone that has sought to find some sort of win-win solution amongst all parties. I figure it’s better to get an employee to “buy in” to a new process, a new way of thinking rather than “force” them to do something that they don’t understand or don’t think makes any sense.

Kitty Cat Rain, hiding from a curious toddler!

So yeah … I would rather hear their frustration. As long as it comes with some sort of idea for a solution. And besides … I’d rather have them “complain” in front of me rather than go off in a huddled mass and let the bitterness and negativity fester around me.

While admittedly taking this time with my staff takes a lot of energy out of me, it does reap some great rewards. The number one reward is that my staff trusts me; and it’s because during these “wailing” sessions, I’m always adamant about being as honest and truthful as I can be about any given situation. And of course, the other reward is that they are more than willing to help me or the rest of their teammates out in a pinch.

Today, amidst all of the chaos at work, I managed to experience one of these rewards … one that actually took me by suprise in the form of one of my most pessimistic employee.

While originally she did come by my cubicle to talk about an issue that was bothering her … an issue that resulted in an answer that I knew wasn’t one she’d like … she suprised me by saying, “Well, I guess I’m meant to experience these types of situations over and over again until I learn how to deal with it properly.”

Wow … I was literally floored by her statement. And completely amazed by how much growth she’s experienced in the year that I’ve known her. Because a year ago, I’m pretty darn sure she would have stormed off in anger and let it fester for ever and ever and ever.  But instead, she accepted it as if she knew it was something that was beyond her control … and that the only thing she could control was how she could react to it.

Tyler was *SO* excited to ride the CTA

Which then lead into another discussion about how there are certain things in life that are beyond our control. And that the trick to being “okay” with situations (rather than angry or sad) is to realize what we can and can’t control about the situation … how we can react, whether to expend energy on something that may prove to be futile anyway, etc.

So after this incredible conversation I had with my team member, I took a moment to reflect exactly what she had said to me. And how it reflected in my own life; particularly on how I’ve dealt with my infertility.

What I came up with was this:

Obviously during my journey to Hubby & my decision to finally live child-free after infertility I’ve ran into many “challenges,” many pregnancy or adoption announcements, many invitations to children’s birthday parties. And sadly, I’ve even faced one of the hardest challenges that life can indirectly throw my way. But even then I obviously hadn’t learned the lesson I was meant to get out of these challenges.

It wasn’t until I learned to give up that anger that I had felt for so long that I began to feel a little sense of calm. And as I slowly came out of the sadness and depression that followed the anger, I truly was able to open myself up to more than just grief.

And what opened up was this incredible opportunity to literally step away from the world where most of my grief took place. Once I gave up that feeling of having to “control” … or rather, brace myself from the grief of my infertility, I began to feel “okay”with myself … okay with the fact that I had no control over my body.

But what I did have control over was exactly how I could react to these situations. And what I did have control over was what path I could take next.

My new favorite picture of my niece & nephew!

Having been in my new world for over a year now, I can finally look back and know that Hubby & I have taken the path that feels most suitable for us … given that we couldn’t have children of our own.

So the lesson I learned today from my employee? The one that usually tends to be the most distrustful and discouraging? I’ve learned that even though you can try to force control over certain situations like trying to have children (and all that comes with an infertile trying to become pregnant or trying to adopt**), the best course of action is to simply trust in yourself and learn how best to deal with it.

** Easier said than done, I know. But I’m living proof that you can still be infertile and learn how to “Just Relax.” It’s taken me 13-plus years; but I think I’m actually at peace with my infertility.

5 Replies to “How To Deal”

  1. I’m so proud of you! You’ve grown leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. Also you are an incredible manager – can I come work for you? haha.

    Is Rain happy the house is back to normal?

  2. Em, I’m so proud of you too! Bitterness and anger are poison to the soul. Hold onto those things and it will make you a toxic person later in your years. Our pastor has said the same things- there are many things in life you cannot control. The only thing you can control is how you react. You can either react with joy, or react with bitterness and anger. You choose…

    I loved seeing the pictures of your spring break with the kiddos. I hoped you guys were able to still have some fun despite the weather.

  3. Reading about how you try to deal with your employees & their complaints made me think that you ARE bringing up a bunch of children after all. ; ) (I know my dad — who managed a group of all-female employees — used to grumble that it was like trying to lead a troop of 10-year-old Girl Scouts, lol.)

    Your positive attitude & ability to find a lesson in every experience is a huge inspiration to me. : )

  4. Em,

    I have to echo everyone else: I am so proud of you!
    I am so happy that you have found peace.

  5. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!” was the Psalm response today at Mass this Divine Mercy Sunday and indeed my reaction to your post above. If after reading that, you are not angry with your ever-preachy Mom, then you have passed the peace test, he.he.he. Know that I, too, am at peace without grandchildren. Fiat! I am soooo proud of you & Bobby! LOL (lots of love!), Mom

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