Last weekend I was a book-reading fiend. I finished about four different ones over the weekend. One was short and the other three just had me completely sucked in. It was a gorgeous weekend with warm weather and sunny days which meant that other than errands, house chores, and yard duties, I tried to sneak as much time as possible to hide in between the pages of the books that captured my attention. The shorter one (at about 75 pages) is a book by Calvin Trillium who has been with the The New Yorker since 1963 among many other noteworthy achievements and books written.
Many of his books somehow connect back to his wife Alice. In the book I read over the weekend, “About Alice” it is a modern-day love story, but not in a cheesy, romantic style way. It is a genuine over-the-years deep love for his wife expressed over the 75 pages of this book. It is a quick read, but it left me with a deep contentment that love can and does last for that long, and only gets deeper with each passing year. I loved this idea on page 24:
“When we were in our early thirties, it occurred to me that one way to divide people we knew was that some of them were still dependent on their parents—financially or emotionally or some other way—and some of them had seen that role ended or even reversed. I never embarked on a study to see if that distinction was a predictor of how people handled what has to be handled to get through life—the small matters of logistics and maintenance that were known around our house as Administrative Caca, or serious issues of, say, catastrophic illness or financial disaster—but I suppose I always assumed that Alice’s early responsibility for her parents had something to do with her tendency to sit down and systematically deal with whatever problems came up.”
I obviously have never embarked on such a study, but for someone who began taking care of my mom at the age of twelve, I saw early on what it was like to have roles reversed. At twelve and sixteen respectively, my older sister and I were the mother to my mom at too young an age. When she passed, that role was then passed to my grandma who was in her nineties and needed more care than she let on.
I do think the shit life throws at you, as Trillium says the “Administrative Caca” (which is a new phrase I think I will adopt in my own vernacular), is telling to how we handle and manage our lives day-to-day. Maybe that is why I am a take-no-shit, deal-with-it-as-it comes kind of woman. I do not like things to fester. I like to deal with it and move on.
How do you divide? Have the roles reversed in your life?
Chris knows how relentless I am. If I decide that I want something, I will do whatever I can to get it. Always. Which is why I love Seth Godin’s blog titled: “‘Pick yourself’ and taking responsibility.” Where he talks about taking responsibility for what you want:
“If you want to be responsible for making music, make music. If you want to be responsible for writing, speaking, making change happen, go do that. Waiting to get picked is a form of hiding, not realism.”
Somehow halfway through college I stopped deciding that anyone else was going to determine my future. Only I could do that. I stopped holding my thoughts and words inside. I started speaking out loud, and sometimes it came out with fire, and anger, and zeal. Over time I have honed that voice. Sometimes it is strong, loud, and abrupt, and other times it is soft, gentle, and emphatic. It depends on the situation. I know I will continue to hone and balance what I want with the fervor of getting my voice out. It is not always easy, and it does not always come out with poise. What matters first is that it is spoken.
Now that I know what it feels like to pick me, all I can want for others is that you pick you. It matters. Whether you are a mom, or a sister, or an amazing employee, others will always find ways to run you over, take advantage, and get what they want. You are the only one that can pick you. You are the only one that can truly take a stand. You do so by taking a stand for you. You cannot wait for others to step up and pick you. You have to pick you. Set aside time for you. Get a babysitter, take a day off, say no. Do it so you have a chance to put yourself first. I guarantee that you will feel the difference.
I found a print over the weekend via the fabulous, Elizabeth Gilbert that sums up what I think about a lot of things. It says: “Own your Shit.” I could never frame it and put it on the wall, as it has a bird on it, and I am not a fan of birds. I like the print because it says what I constantly have running through my head. To me “Own your Shit” means bring yourself 100% to your job, relationship, family, wherever in your life. Know who is counting on you, know what is expected of you, and bring it.
I struggle a lot with others that do not take accountability for their actions. If you say you are going to do something do it. Follow through. Think about the individual on the receiving end of what you need to do. Does your not following through leave them hanging? Does it make them look bad? Does it tell them you do not care?
When you drop the ball, own it. Put yourself out there and communicate that you did not own your shit. Let others know. You own it when you are transparent about when you did not come through. It gives you more credibility. When you do not own your shit, you can lose all credibility.
Whatever story you are telling yourself for why your life is more important, or what you need to do is more important than honoring your commitments, it is bullshit. Do what is your responsibility to do. Do not expect someone else to do it for you. Do not take the easy way out. Own it. Know it. Be it.