Tuesday, October 24, 2006

When Someone Misjudges You or Treats you Rude

Okay, I know that first impressions are important, but I also know that I’ve grown enough in my self esteem to let my hair down every once in a while and let my own inner confidence say that I’m okay with myself. Usually, the fact that I’m able to speak up and talk with anyone is an asset, and people tend to respect me and are friendly back. Today, I wasn’t so lucky and I got to feel what it feels like to be ignored, and to be treated rude. And I was incredibly fascinated by my response.

Today after a slow 3 mile run with my running team, I ran into a gal that I swam with back in high school. This particular gal and I were on the same team but she was a few years older so we weren’t really friends. I don’t even remember what she was like at all in high school really, I just remember her always being cute, trim and fit.

I have seen her once since moving back to my home town and I only waved to her from my car when I stopped and said hello for a quick minute. Today, we had about 5 minutes together and from what I could see, she could barely stand it.

Let me just set the scene. Today I woke up with a massive head ache but decided to run anyway. I didn’t feel like putting on any make up because I felt horrible and it was asking a lot of myself just to get out there and even attempt a run today. Usually, I do put on a bit of make up, and try to look decent, but today was a bit different. I just didn’t care. I’ve also been off for over a week with a muscle injury, so I knew I’d have to go slow today. Still, I did the 3 miles, and finished up happy.

This gal was with two other ladies. They were all decked out in their cute running attire and looked like models on the run way. I quickly admired their “look” and wandered over to say hello to my former swim team mate. I think she took one look at my non botox head and my colorless lips and was horrified to acknowledge in front of her beautiful friends that she might actually know this gal without botox! Within minutes, in my usual friendly way, I had pulled her, although reluctantly, into a small talk situation. She politely answered my questions but I could feel her anxiousness of wanting to move along. At one point, I knew that she was trying an intimidation tactic of ignoring me, so I threw a little zinger in there and told her friend, “yes, we swam together in high school, but she was SO much older than me.” I said it playfully and with a smile. Her response? “Ohhhh, WHATEVER”. Hardly the nice response!

So, I then laughed and asked, “so, do you work or are you leading a lovely life of luxury?” Again, I asked with a smile and in a friendly way, knowing now that I was going to force her to either be 100% rude to me, or to snap out of it and be nice. She answered what she did and when I asked if she knew a friend of mine, she answered, “there are a lot of us here”, and trying to get her friend to help her out of this awful conversation!

At that point, her friend picked up on something I had said and started talking to me about her husband and his swimming and how he got burned out. She and I had a nice exchange, which told me, I probably didn’t have mascara smeared all over my face and that it probably wasn’t anything about my “look” that was disgusting.

That was the break that we needed and then the conversation was over. I left feeling sorry for this gal, who had no idea what I had blossomed into as an adult and I assumed she was still judging me on who I was to her in high school. I didn’t even mention that I do TV or speak or anything of that nature, because that would look like I was trying to win her approval, when really, all I was attempting to do was to be polite for the 2-5 minutes of our conversation.
I have no idea how she judges others, whether she was having a horrible day, or if she’s just not a nice person who has no tolerance for people outside of her circle. It’s possible that because I’m a part of a life she’d rather forget, that she may ignore and treat all of the former swimmers with distain. It’s possible that because I wasn’t my usual cute self and she assumed that I was the type of gal who didn’t take good care of myself, that she didn’t’ feel the need to be nice. I suppose I’ll never know.

But what I do know, is that are small, very short interactions with other people are important. Because if we’re having an off day, and we treat another person rudely, the other person is going to notice. And they’re probably going to fell bad and question what happened? I did. I’m at the point in my life that now I can take that situation and learn from it and share the experience with others. While I did wonder what it was about me that repulsed her, I also know that it doesn’t matter. It could be my “look”, my clothes, my outgoing personality, my lack of botox, my reputation, or her annoyance of me from high school, and it really doesn’t matter. I know that there are some people that we will like, and others, we don’t. I am not taking it personally. But if I am to live with the Golden Rule as my motto of “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” I’d have to say I’d probably want the person to realize that I was having a bad day, and that I didn’t mean it and it was about me, and not them.

Also by knowing your purpose, it’s easier to blow it off or to forgive someone for an indescretion. I now know my purpose, and my purpose is to bring joy and to bring encouragement to people every day. That doesn’t mean only the people that I love, but just whatever people who I come in contact with every day. Even the ones who don’t like me. And the Bible also teaches to “Love your enemies as yourself”. So now I have to ask myself, how could I have brought my “enemy” joy or encouragement? Can I say a prayer on her behalf? Could she really be living a joyful life herself if she’s treating others rudely? What could I have done or said to help her understand, that life is short and we’re supposed to live life fully and abundantly and that people come in and out of our lives to teach us something? What could I have done or said to make her life better? These will be questions that I will have to contemplate, and practice and hopefully, one day, when I’m treated rudely again, I won’t pass automatic judgments but I will ignore it, and love them anyway.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Defining Moment in My life

Watching Oprah on rerun tonight was a great reminder that all of us have defining moments in our lives. Oprah highlighted Glamour Magazines’ contest of Reel Moments, by Real Women and showed the Hollywood actors and famous women who directed their first films. She showed clips of many of the short films about the contest winners life changing moments.

Of course we all remember major events such as when we met our spouse or when we had our babies, but what about the moments that were ours and ours alone? What about the moments that challenged the very core and the every existence of our being?
I recently had such a moment.

I have lived much of my adult life running from event to event, from moment to moment. I prided myself as being one of the fastest walkers in NY when I lived there, which meant that I was beating all of the other Type A’s when racing to the next meeting. I’ve lived with constant anxiety and stress and lived the life of cramming as much in a day as I could, often at the expense of my family. I was an email junkie and got that adrenaline rush like a junkie who needs a hit when emails arrived. I suppose in my mind, I thought that the emails from friends were little messages that told me that I was important or that someone cared. That addiction took me away from the people who really cared, mainly, my family. Thank God, I had a miraculous intervention!

I believe that there are some people in life that you’re supposed to meet at a certain time. My only regret about meeting Inevette was that I didn’t meet her sooner. But God’s timing is perfect and He must have known that I was supposed to hear the message that His messenger was to bring me.

A few weeks ago, Inevette and I made an appointment to walk on a Friday morning. On that particular Friday morning, I had the weight of the world resting on my shoulders. Every decision I had to make was earth shattering, and I didn’t feel I had the strength to deal with all of the issues that were facing me. On our walk, I tried not to trouble Inevette with my worry and my frustration, but in our natural course of talking, the real story tumbled out. I shared with her what was going on in my life and my husband’s life, and with my son. I shared everything with her because I knew somehow, she’d understand and perhaps offer a word of encouragement. What I got instead was a suggestion that we go walk in the local cemetery.

As we turned into the gate, she spread her arms out and told me to take a look around. I stopped and took in the sights of the thousands of plots with flowers covering the gravesites. What she said, shook me to my core. She said, “Mary? All of this running you’re doing? Well, here is what you’re running to. We all are. This is where you’re going to end up. Sooner or later, you’re going to end up here.

At that moment, it was like I got the wind sucked right out of me. I started to say something but no words would come. I just looked at the plots and realized, she was right. And who knew when my day, or anyone’s day for that matter, would come. One day, I’ll probably be buried right here in the Glen Haven Cemetery. What a shocker THAT was!

She continued to challenge me. Are all of these things I’m obsessing about really important? Is it really going to matter in the long run if I make a wrong decision or not? No! What really matters is how I live my life, and if I’m living with all of this stress, the only side effect is that I’ll be hittin’ that ol’ gravesite a heck of a lot earlier than I’d have to otherwise.

As we continued to walk and talk, I felt the stress release from my body. I made a decision to relax and enjoy the ride a bit more. I knew that the real me wasn’t supposed to be so stressed. I’m a gal who enjoys laughing and having fun. I’m the girl who can make a party out of waiting in line at the grocery store or dry cleaners with a bunch of complete strangers, and I had let a lot of that girl go and had replaced her with a stressed out, anxiety ridden, wound up working mother toting around all of the weight of the world.

How I’ve changed since then? I’m choosing to have faith instead of being flustered. I’m calmly walking through life and have chosen to and AM laughing more. Today I took the whole day and played with my 6 year old son, and found that he has the most amazingly delightful and hysterically funny personality. Today, we played store together, went bike riding, and swimming, and just enjoyed spending time with each other. Of course, I deeply regret, the many years he’s experienced of me as a stressed out mama. But, I’m now hoping I can make up for lost time and I’m dedicated to spending more quality time with him, to be a better helpmate to my husband. We’ll still honor the work we do, and do the best we can, with the best attitude we can. And, we’ll have fun in the process!

Walking through the cemetery changed my mind, my focus and my attitude. I woke up and realized.. I WANT TO LIVE!!! I’m here on earth to live abundantly, and to live my life fully. And now, I want to share that message of living life fully and completely, with the world.