637: Benefits

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There are advantages to living in a small town. Wonderful, affirming advantages.

There are also issues. One of those is the stranglehold a large employer has on the people who make up their current employees and their potential workforce.

See, in a larger metropolis, employees who are treated unfairly or just don’t feel appreciated for whatever reason, those employees can vote with their feet and take a different job with another company, generally without a huge amount of disruption to their lives. Many don’t even have to move their households to change jobs. As a result, some employers understand about treating their employees fairly, since they know the people have choices. At the same time, there is a correspondingly larger pool of employee candidates in a larger town, too, so maybe that advantage actually is a wash when all is said and done.

However, in a smaller town, a large employer is much more impervious to treating employees fairly because they know they are one of the few places anywhere around that has the pay and benefits people need to survive in this modern age. If an employee isn’t happy, they often are forced to suck it up, knowing that they will have to move their families and sell their homes to be able to relocate somewhere that has equivalent pay and benefits compared to the job they now hold with the abusive employer. This prospect is fairly risky, and many play it safe (throwing no rocks, here – I totally understand) and put up with being abused on the job, because it can be expensive to relocate – and it is certainly stressful to most people. I understand about needing a job, but at what cost?

Management has to get pretty obviously lousy to even casual observers before enough employees begin to lose their fear of the costs of calling it quits, and stand up for their rights, or just pack it in and say to hell with it, and get the heck out of Dodge.

I have been blessed in this employment department on several counts. First, I am a preacher’s daughter and for my dad, that was akin to being a military brat – we moved every year or so. I learned not to get attached to a house, or a geographic location, for that matter. It does not freak me out to move. I know I can land on my feet and be pretty content nearly anywhere.

The second advantage I have is that my career preparation happens to be a fairly unusual one that just happens to be in high demand in my part of the world, and indeed, pretty much the entire world over. I have always known that if I got fired today, I could pretty much be working tomorrow in SEVERAL locations not too far away, or as far away as I chose to go. Not everyone else has that security. Plus, I discovered that I can make a go of it even if I decide to leave the country again, so even if I were to be blackballed (yes, that does happen), I could still quite easily be hired overseas, because I am good at what I do, and I know it. That is also pretty liberating, and also something most others are unwilling to contemplate to escape an abusive employer.

They’d rather be abused, and stay where they are. Change is scary. It is also liberating, and full of infinite possibilities for a better life. Sometimes counting the cost costs too much. Be willing to take a chance.

Consider all the things that can go RIGHT, for once.

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588: Insisting on Unkindness

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Insisting on being, saying, doing unkindness is your choice.

It isn’t as though you are a perfect human and therefore should be raised up as the shining example of behavior for all of humankind to emulate.

Far from it; the hatefulness you spew from your own well of emptiness

is a potent example of everything humankind needs, deserves, chooses to abhor.

Making a difference, inspiring change, is not about pulling others down with whom you disagree,

joining with others as small-spirited as you yourself

to poke fun together at those who dare to take a stand for the hope of all.

We are not in middle school anymore. Act like it.

577: Maturing with Age

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I hope everyone is aware that growing bigger and older does not equate with becoming a mature person. Achieving the age of majority and being considered a legal adult has absolutely nothing to do with making wise decisions, or living your life in a mature, healthy manner.

Maturity is coming to grips with yourself, all of yourself, the good, strong parts that you like and celebrate, and the shameful weaknesses that you have struggled to overcome, and that you may still struggle to overcome – but at least you have named them, and in so doing, you have robbed them of their power in your determination to rid them from your character and life. You can look back at your personal history and come to some sort of peace with it, knowing and accepting that you were not perfect, and that you are no longer that person, thank God.

Part of that maturing is understanding that even if you could go back and change things, that you would not do so. This is because you made the decisions you made thinking they were the best ones you could make. Looking back with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, I can see that decisions I once made for the greater good (not only for me, but for those I was responsible for) didn’t work out as I had hoped that they would. I could not have known that looking forward -no one could have known that. Thus, I would not change them. They helped me grow and mature into the person I have become, who is not the person who others knew years ago.

My conscience is clear. I made my apologies to those I  wounded along the journey (both deliberately and unintentionally). What they do with my sincere regret is not in my hands. They will have their own maturing to do, as they come to terms with their own flaws. All humans have them.

I am responsible for me. I always have been, even when I blamed others in my youth, arrogance, and ignorance.

Maturity is a hard-won badge of honor. Not everyone gets there.

571: Maybe it IS you…

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There is a huge culture now of “accept me as I am.” It is the “be yourself, and don’t change who you are for anyone or anything.” Yeah, well….I get that idea, but I see the problems this healthy self-acceptance beginning eventually leads to – and it isn’t pretty.

See, in the old days, people celebrated bettering themselves, and overcoming character flaws, not congratulating themselves on refusing to change for any reason whatsoever (deserving or not). Literature abounds with heros who have to overcome their flaws to be successful. Those are character flaws. People have them. These character flaws need, and deserve to be, overcome, conquered, mastered, vanquished. For the good of the individual, and for the good of us all.

Sometimes, the problem really, truthfully IS YOU. And it may be genuinely you, but it is a part of you that genuinely needs to be changed, repaired, fixed. And, sometimes, it’s me. I’ve been working on me for several decades now, and there are still some things I have not yet mastered that need to be fixed.

If I can recognize that I can be a better human, so can everyone else, because I assure you, there isn’t anyone breathing who could not use a little self-improvement.

558: January Audition

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Hubs and I went (for the second time) to audition for a local community theater production. What play? Does that matter? Hmmmm……

It was the second time because we had word of the date and time of the scheduled auditions, and went on Tuesday – to find a dark theater, with no humans in sight. So, we called to verify that things had not been called off or rescheduled, or we just made a mistake, and when we finally got a call back, the director made a special effort to include us and told us we could come privately and deliver our minute monologue (and fill out contact paperwork). So we went.

My monologue is about being a schoolteacher in January. Since I got some laughs, I will reproduce it here for you to judge for yourself:

NINE MORE DAYS. It is NINE more days until the end of January – and January has THIRTY-ONE DAYS. Normally, getting to the end of the month is not an issue, even though I am a schoolteacher who gets paid only once a month, on the last working day of the month. But January is a special case, and has been a special case for every one of the twenty-six years that I have been a schoolteacher. You’d think after all that experience, it would get easier, but NO. I actually think is gets exponentially more difficult with added experience.

See – the last paycheck came at the end of teaching in December – about the middle of the month. Then there was Christmas – a money-sucking time if ever there was one, and THEN, there is New Year’s – ditto. And those happen in the first two weeks. After that, there are four weeks – thirty-one days – of sheer endurance.

We are talking peanut butter and crackers, searching in the couch cushions and under the car seats for loose change to buy gas….that sort of thing.  It would be different if there was a way to earn extra money, but unfortunately, nobody, but nobody wants to see me naked, so it just isn’t happening. *sigh*

482: New Habits

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Many people are dissatisfied with some part of their life. That’s pretty universal, since life has so many compartments: physical, spiritual, financial, occupational, familial, emotional, and every one of those compartments has multiple occupants, all of which can run smoothly, or gum up the works.

In the process of living our lives, we humans are often like water. We choose the easiest path (the path of least resistance) to find our way down an incline. What this translates to in daily life is that we establish easy routines to deal with most things, and they become habits over time with repetition. They start to feel natural and normal with the familiarity, even if they are not natural and normal. It happens this way even when our established habits are actually unhealthy for us, or harmful to us.

All of us struggle with habits, but who would knowingly establish a habit that harms them? Well – that appears obvious, but people do it every day.  We choose to take a drink because we are bored, or because something is uncomfortable that we’d rather not think about and deal with. Repeatedly choosing that option leads us to a dependency on alcohol (or drugs, or food, or sex, or the Internet, or gambling, or shopping, or fill-in-the-blank with your own addictive, escapist behavior) and the poor choice is now a habit that feels natural and normal to you, even though it is anything BUT. The problem with addictive, escapist behaviors is that they are never, ever satisfied with the compartment of your life that they started out in. They do take control of that compartment, yes – and then they cast a proprietary eye on the compartment next door, and the one after that, and the one after that, until they pretty much take over everything.  Every stinking, little, tiny thing.

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This is why people who don’t see (and heed) the warning signs when a habit is still small enough to be uprooted, before its roots are so massive that digging it out uproots the rest of the garden, too – this is why those people speak of hitting absolute rock bottom. It takes that ultimate comeuppance (rock bottom) at that point, to make a change. When there are no more excuses, when you have pretty much lost everything that mattered to you, when there is nothing that is left of any value or worth, making a change isn’t such a bad thing. It is the only thing left.

You can’t dig yourself out of a hole. When you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING. Make a change. You can’t expect different results when you continue to make the same choices. Start something new, and be sure it is something positive, and do it one day at a time, until you are no longer in a hole.

When will you be out of the hole? You will know. Just be sure you don’t start digging again.