Pick Your Battles Carefully

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Practice when to take acton and when to let go

An empty interior with a door shaped like a keyhole

We arrived as scheduled at the hotel of choice for a two-week stay. It’s always been one of my favorites. My husband and I checked into our room, only to discover that we were located directly above the garbage dump, the loading dock, and the motorcycle pit. As I’ve learned to do, I took responsibility for my feelings and call the manager for assistance.

“We’re regular visitors to this hotel,” I said. “Can you move us to another room, please?” “I’m sorry. I’m not able to change your room without assessing an additional $250 charge. That’s the hotel’s policy.”

A little put off by his unwillingness to accommodate us, I asked, “Is it hotel policy to put regular customers over the garbage dump?” Undisturbed by my obvious disapproval, he simply said, “There was nothing we can do for you at this time. You can check back with me in a few days.”

“What about a dinner voucher for my husband and me for the inconvenience? It’s very noisy over the loading dock, and the smell of the garbage dump seeps into our window,” I said. “No, I’m sorry. We are not able to provide that for you at this time. I can, however, offer you a free drink at the pool.”

When I got off the phone, I was livid and gave myself permission to be mad for about an hour.

Then I read Step Three and recited the Serenity Prayer.

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In that moment, I thought, “What can’t I change?” First, I couldn’t change the hotel manager’s mind. I asked, he said no. Second, I couldn’t stop the noise from the garbage dump, the unloading of the truck, or the motorcycles revving up. And third, I couldn’t get another room without paying more money.

Then I thought, “What can I change?” All I could think of was myself and my attitude. That was it. I repeated the Serenity prayer and I knew I had a choice – actually, lots of choices. What were my choices? To move to a different room and pay the extra fee. To stay in the room and accept the situation as it is. To stay in the room, complaint for two weeks, allow resentment to destroy my vacation, and then blame the manager.  Or demand my money back and go to another hotel. They were all valid choices. Someone better than others. And I could to make my choice. The wisdom to know the difference is about having the courage to choose wisely and carefully. It’s knowing or what I can control and what I can’t. After talking it over with my husband, we decided to pay the extra money to a more comfortable room.

There are times when it’s appropriate to fight a battle because of the principal. There are times to know when it’s best to let go and claim victory in the letting go. Knowing when to do which is the challenge, and the gift. The wisdom to know the difference.

All we can change it ourselves: our attitude, our behavior, or feelings, and our beliefs. Nothing more. We can’t change other people’s attitudes, behaviors, feelings, or beliefs.

 

 

Be Silly. Self-Esteem. Have Fun.

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Smile. Silly.

girl and dog playing aroundAfter speaking at a recovery convention, a fellow speaker approached me and said, “Francine how come you’re so serious? You need to lighten up! You never smile. You say you’re grateful, but you need to tell your face. You look like it’s the end of the world.”

Well I thought to myself, “Who does he think he is telling me to lighten up?” I’m light.  I have a sense of humor, ha, ha. I can take a joke – sometimes.” As you can image I was just a little peeved. But you know, he was right. I never smile. I’m always serious, and my face looks tense, as if I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. What’s with that? I hide behind the fact that I am a left-brain thinker and never allow the little girl – the silly person, the humorous person that I believe I really am – to come out and play.

Since that time, I made a conscious effort to lighten up. The first time I practiced this was at a conference where I unhappily forgot what I was talking about.  I got conversational with my audience, went off on a tangent, and couldn’t remember where I was. In the past when that happened, I was devastated –  and you could tell. My hands got sweaty, my body tensed up, and my mouth got dry. I looked scared and I was. But on this particular day, I simply stopped for a minute, took a deep breath and blurted out, “Oh my God, I’m having a senior moment.” The crowd roared. I didn’t die, and I demonstrated that I had a sense of humor about myself. I’ve been doing it ever since.

Sense of Humor.

When we lighten up we see the world through new eyes. Problems become more manageable. And mistakes aren’t the end of our world. We learn to delight in all that God has created, and we become full of joyous expectation of the good that awaits us. Plus, we don’t age as quickly because we allow our inner child to come out and play.

What does it take to allow yourself to be silly in the moment? Well some people are natural humorists. They have the capacity to see something funny in all things, starting with themselves. For many, they have been making people laugh from the time they entered the world. Recall the kids you went to school with you who made everybody laugh.  They were funny; it was natural for them. But for the rest of us, being silly or lightening up is a learned skill.

This week you have permission to get silly. Silliness is an experience of joy. If we are really feeling joyful, then it’s to our advantage to show that in all we do.

 

Girl Scouts. Ethics. Courage.

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Girl Scouts is for every girl!  Ethics. Courage.

Ethics. Values. Courage.

Ethics. Values. Courage.

Would you accept money in the form of a donation if it meant compromising your principles? Well, Megan Ferland, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Western Washington was put to the test when she received a $100,000 donation. It takes great courage to do what is right, especially when you go against the status quo. Ethics, it’s one thing to talk about ethics, and it’s another to practice it.

This seemingly generous donation to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, however, came with a condition, a condition Megan Ferland wasn’t willing to compromise on. The donor specifically asked for a guarantee that none of the money be used for transgender girls, or the money should be returned.

Ferland promptly returned the money saying “Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.” This wasn’t an easy decision because the Girl Scouts really needed that money. It was to be used to help families who couldn’t afford to pay for Girl Scouts enroll their children.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Instead of accepting that the $100,000 was gone, the Girl Scouts used the unfortunate incident as a rallying call and started an Indiegogo fundraiser (#ForEVERYGIRL) in an attempt to recoup some of the lost donation. Wouldn’t you know it, before the end of the first day of fundraising they had surpassed their goal and were close to raising $200,000!

How many people sell-out their principles every day in return for money, fame, or a career? I’m not downplaying people’s needs, they are real. That’s why it often takes courage to do the right thing. But as is the case for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, doing the right thing and living true to your principles usually pays off in the end.

So, how about you? Are you living your life in concert with your convictions and principles, or do you find yourself compromising or simply giving in?

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

 

Unfit Parents. The Good Wife. Iyanla’s Fix My Life. Drug Abuse. Drugs & Children.

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Just because you can have kids, does not mean you should.

Unfit parent. Drugs.

Unfit parents. Drugs.

Often I get complaints about my statement that not all women are fit to be mothers. Some folks seem to believe just because a woman can have children, she should, and just because a man has sperm, he should share it with every woman he desires. Sadly, from a legal perspective, I get to see what happens to the kids. This week I took notice of two outrageous examples that bolster my opinion on this subject.

Unfit Parents. Drug Addict. Effects of Drugs.

The other day there was a news story ,  yet one more example of why I feel that way. A Delaware mother is under arrest after she sent her 4-year old to daycare with a backpack filled with 249 bags of heroin. Innocently, the child promptly began giving out the dangerous drug to her classmates. Whether the mother accidentally gave the kid the backpack or intentionally gave it to her to share with friends in attempt to get the kids hooked, this woman should be in jail forever and she should lose custody of her children, forever!

Not only has this woman endangered her own child, the potential harm she has caused other children is shameful. I am sure there are some will call me harsh, or that she simply made a mistake. Perhaps it was a mistake. However, that doesn’t explain what the woman was doing with 249 bags of heroin in the first place. Was it her intent to sell the drugs? Even if she was simply a user and not a dealer, she is still a danger to her children. This kind of irresponsible behavior can ruin lives regardless of how or why the drugs wound up in her daughter’s backpack.

The Good Wife. Drug Dealers.

It’s no secret that I put pedophiles and drug dealers in the same category. And it’s too bad more of us don’t share this opinion, including people in the entertainment industry. For example, I am very disappointed at the direction one my favorite TV shows has taken in this regard. The Good Wife started as out a great program, but I now find the plot twisting into darkness by glorifying and legitimizing drug lord, Lemond Bishop, played by Mike Colter. We will never get rid of addiction and all the destruction it causes by glamorizing drug dealers. What would happen if one of one of Alicia Florrick’s children wound up hooked on drugs, maybe even drugs supplied by her client? While the portraying the Alicia Florrick character as being a good mom, she is selling out her values for dirty money. And the Good Wife is only one of MANY shows that glamorizes, and thus desensitizes us to crime, drug trafficking, pornography, pimps, pedophilia, explicit sex, and violence.  These shows encourage you to feel sympathy for the “poor dope dealer” who sells drugs to everyone’s kids except yours, or the pimp who looks like the kid next door, or the hooker who is just paying her way through school.  Shows like Breaking Bad, the Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, White Collar, Weeds, the Good Wife, and so many more.

Iyanla’s Fix My Life.

Another one from the “just because you can have kids does not mean you should” file.

This week on OWN’s Iyanla’s Fix My Life show there was a segment about a man who had sired 34 children with 17 different women. Maybe one can understand if a person has one child that they cannot care for, or have no intention of caring for, but 34! He should be in jail for committing such a heinous act against God and human kind. Many of his kids have gone on to behave in the same way. Even if he stops his outrageous and irresponsible behavior and gets an overdue vasectomy, the destruction he has caused in so many lives is as sad as it is tragic. Some folks may say that everyone deserves a second chance. Yes, but he had 34 second chances and still has not made it right. He says, “I never considered getting a vasectomy, nor will I, because simply, I don’t want one … I don’t have a problem with what I created.”

Then there’s the matter of the women who gave birth to his 34 children. No doubt, some will feel sorry for them and see them as victims. I say that it’s the kids who are the real victims! The women chose to have unprotected sex with a man who they knew was a bum. Perhaps they thought that this time he would be different, that he would change. It’s hard to believe that they didn’t know who they were dealing with. How is it possible to hide 34 kids from smart women? At what point do these women take responsibility for their actions and lack of judgment?

Supportive Family.

Even with an intact and supportive family, it can still be hard growing up with all the challenges and temptations children face on a daily basis. Then think about the odds of growing up to be a happy and productive adult when born to people who really had no business having children.

Until next time, I’m Francine Wardattorney, coach, author, and speaker.  I invite you to join my conversation on my Esteemable Acts Fan pageEsteemable Acts Twitter feed, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

 

Love. Fear. Anger. Emotional Baggage.

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Love. Fear. Anger. Emotional Baggage.

Love. Fear.

Love. Fear.

Do you know what gets in the way of Love? It’s old emotional baggage 99% of the time, which most often comes in the form of misplaced anger and/or fear.

As far back as I cam remember I’ve been angry at somebody. In one particular case, it was Janine, a friend who stole money from me. I had been mad at her since 1979. It took until 1989 to resolve the conflict. “She was my best friend. I trusted her, and look at what she did to me!” I’d say to anyone who’d listen to me. “I thought she know if she needed something she could just ask,” I cried. But she didn’t. After a few years of replaying the story, I knew just how to tell it to get the kind of reaction I wanted. I had an investment in the anger, even though we had been friends since childhood. I was holding on to my emotional baggage. What I discovered later was that it was fear, not anger that created a block.  Fear that manifested itself as anger. I carried that emotional baggage around for a long time, until one day it just got too heavy.

Holding on to the Anger.

Have you ever been mad at someone and allowed that anger to last for years? I bet you have. Think about someone you aren’t speaking to today and go back to how long it’s been. We’re not counting bumping into the person in the street, business meetings, or family events, we’re talking about really having him or her in your life. I bet it’s been a long time, longer than you’d like to admit.

Do you remember why you stopped talking? Or how the disagreement even started? Some of you are probably saying “But it was her fault, or it was his fault.” Or “They stopped talking to me first.” Perhaps you are right, but you have helped to keep the resentment going. How willing are you to make the world a better place by living love, not just talking about it? How willing are you to start the process right now?

People Do Let Us Down.

People let us down, whether or not they know it. They hurt us with their words. They disappoint us with their actions. When they hurt us, we feel justified in holding a grudge – forever. Anger is a powerful intoxicant. You can become so consumed with what someone has done to you, you get angry. The anger gets angry, and the anger gets you.

When I finally resolved the conflict with Janine, it was more for my benefit than hers. I had become more consumed with her than I thought I was.

Getting Past the Anger and Fear to the Love.

So what can you do right now, this moment, to move you closer to loving yourself or someone in your life? Ask yourself what action can you take right now? Join the conversation and share how you’re moving forward on my website, Esteemable Acts Fan Page. Esteemable Acts Twitter Page.