Thursday, June 03, 2004

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
I was skewered today by a director in another division. On speaker phone with my peers in the room. It was personal and inappropriate and inaccurate. I am furious.

posted by jill # 7:56 PM
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Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Every now and then, when I'm buzzing along through life, it hits me: Inexplicable joy. Sheer happiness and contentment. An appreciation of living here, in the Bay Area, surrounded by so many good things. The birds and squirrels in my backyard. Sycamores and Magnolia trees. Whole Foods, Cable TV, cats from the pound, and a cup of warm milk with a shot of brandy.

I didn't experience much joy as a kid. Mom was always yelling, Dad yelled back, and I spent a lot of time alone. My sisters were much older and refused to have much to do with me. More than anything, I felt alienated. Not One of Them.

Then I grew up, and slowly built my own life. Did my own thing...often suffering the consequences of being blacklisted. My parents didn't talk to me for 2 years when I was engaged to an older man who was Chinese. They didn't like the fact that he was 15 years my senior and not Caucasian. But that's another story for another time.

The first time I remember feeling pure happiness was when I lived in Palo Alto. I was 23 years old and finally independent. I was leading my own life, making my own decisions. I earned $24,000 a year - a fairly good amount at the time. All of my college friends made $18,000 a year in their first job, so I was elated. I lived in a studio apartment, bought my first couch and framed artwork (OK, posters) and dated up a storm. Everything was brand new. Staying in a B & B. Having a man comb my wet hair after a shower. Dancing in the City. Shopping in Union Square. Buying my first sports car.

Contentment and joy have always been a black or white existence for me, although I have felt them much more consistently since I have moved out of my parent's home.

I felt pure joy tonight, and I suspect it had something to do with the phone calls I got at the studio during my radio program. Very complimentary, and I was told that a major electronics store was playing my music all night on their stereos. OK, it's small potatoes in the scheme of the world, but it really did excite me.

I love being anonymously famous. And that tiny, little victory was enough to Make My Day.

posted by jill # 10:30 PM
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Monday, January 19, 2004
The concept of Surrendering doesn't enter my mind very often. I work as a sales manager, and to be successful one has to be tenacious and relentless and intense. Don't ever, ever give up until it is truly over. Then, move on to the next pursuit with the same veracity. Seek to obtain what others call Impossible, Challenging, or Unlikely. Prove the naysayers wrong and exceed the target. Always, exceed the target.

I wouldn't be a very good sales manager if I didn't work that way.

Unfortunately, this modus operandi doesn't work very well in my personal life. I'm competitive and occasionally combative if something gets in the way of my goal. Of course, this behavior works great if I'm pursuing a joint goal that I share with my husband: Buying a house, acquiring a desired treasure on eBay, demanding refunds for services not received.

On a personal level, things get a bit trickier. It's impossible for one person to Win all the time without the other person feeling like the loser. And it's difficult for someone like me, who likes to win, to concede or to...Surrender.

The irony of life is that I would probably reap more if I tried to control less. I am by nature self-limiting, as we all are. The universe is far greater than I, and it can provide bigger, better things than I can ever conceive. So here's the twist: New prospects that I cannot control scare me and I typically ignore them until they go away. Consequently, I live in my highly controlled, highly competitive Mini-World and wonder why I don't Grow.

Two nights ago I thought I was dying. Excrutiating pain in my stomach, I couldn't breathe, I couldn't eat, and I wanted to go to the hospital. (And I would have gone if the ER wait wasn't 4+ hours.) So there I was, lying prone on the couch, crying, gasping for air...and all I wanted to do was hold my husband's hand and apologize. "I'm sorry I haven't been the wife you expected. I'm sorry I've been cranky for the last 5 years and have rarely taken the time to understand what's going on in your world. I'm sorry that I don't listen to you more and give directions to you less. I'm sorry that I'm so bossy and overpowering with what I want...and that I've squashed you and your ideas like a ripe tomato. Most of all, I'm sorry I've gained weight and blamed you for it."

Woooooof. Talk about a load off my chest.

I didn't start breathing fully right in that moment, but I certainly felt like a new woman. My husband, the Sweet Man of the Universe, forgave me. Still holding my hand, still kneeling beside me. With little resentment or cynicism or sadness. He just forgave me. In the moment.

And right there, in the midst of my pain and emotional agony...I learned the beauty of Surrendering.

posted by jill # 11:19 AM
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Saturday, January 17, 2004
Tonight, I am thinking about joy. How to feel it, enjoy it, let it come naturally. I do plenty of things that should give me joy....but somehow they ring hollow. For instance, one night my husband and I went to Charles Nob Hill and had a spectacular dinner. It was the menu created by their chef when he appeared on The Iron Chef. The main ingredient was lobster, which means every dish contained it. It was amazing. It was delicious...and it was extremely expensive, about $200 per person. As fabulous as the dinner was, Once-In-A-Lifetime good, really...I honestly didn't feel joy. None, zippo, kaput. Then there was the time I had several treatments at The Grande Spa on Maui. Circulation baths, relaxation room, massage, facial, exfoliation by sea salt...all very relaxing and very luxurious. But joyful? No.

I'm beginning to understand that joy doesn't come from money. I definitely do believe that money contributes to happiness but it most certainly doesn't buy joy. Not for me, at least.

I felt pure joy when I was bodysurfing on my honeymoon. We laughed and rolled in the sand and acted like a couple of 8 year old kids. Waterslides have the same effect on me. One of my best joyful moments was when I was on retreat with some girlfriends. We had just turned out the light, and my bedmate (we all shared) Rebecca said something that got us giggling hysterically out of control. We laughed until we cried that night, and I felt in that moment that I would love her, respect her, adore her forever. It was such a pure moment of wonderfulness.

And tonight, I tried to recall the last time I felt joy. I honestly don't know the answer. Which means it's been too long.

I don't care about impressing people anymore, I don't care about living the glamorous life...boring and vacant that it is. I want to be grounded, with real people, enjoying belly laughs and giggles and tender moments. I want to rekindle my relationships and bring joy back into my home.

posted by jill # 9:36 PM
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Saturday, January 10, 2004
In 1996, my Dad was visiting and we were in the living room having a drink. At one point, he got serious, looked me straight in the eye and told me, "Your mother and I have been talking about divorce. She told me that she would take everything and that I'd have to go back to work. I don't want to have to do that, and I have figured out a way to avoid all that. I'd like to know if you'll help me. If you do, I can get your mom to agree to a 50/50 settlement. That's all I want - something that's fair to us both.

I have always suspected your mother of having affairs throughout our marriage. On the night that you were conceived, it happened very strangely. Your mother was on top and then started screaming that the condom was broken. She ranted and raved that she was pregnant, she just knew that she was pregnant. I believe that she already knew that she was pregnant and that she staged everything. At the time, she had very suspicious behavior, and I used to follow her around town. I believe she was having an affair with Bud, the grocer.

I have always suspected that you are not my biological daughter, although I want you to know that I have loved you as my own. Will you agree to a DNA test? When the results come back that I am not your biological father, I can use that information as leverage with your mother. She'll do anything to make sure your two older sisters don't find out anything about this - she cares too much about what they think."

It's hard to find the right words to describe how I felt that night, and every night ever since. It's amazing that you can grow up believing one thing only to discover that it was never true. Even something as basic as who your father is....or, to be more accurate, who your daughter is.

I took the test. And discovered that my Dad is indeed my biological father.

Seven years later, my parents are still married, still as miserable as ever. And I am jaded. Wondering how a Dad could confess something like that to his daughter, how he could be so senseless about the impact it would have on her. My entire life, he thought I was a byproduct of an affair.

Did he love me? Yes.

Did he perhaps hate me too...even just a little bit, because I constantly reminded him of his paranoia, beliefs, and accusations? I would have to say...Yes. It's a reality that will never leave me, for as long as I live.

posted by jill # 11:31 PM
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A former manager of mine died last week.

He was the primary reason I quit that job and decided to take a sabbatical. In our first meeting, after I had been in the position and with the company for more than a year, he told me that I knew nothing about the job but that he would personally mold me toward greatness. Despite having been a sales manager already for 8 years, I went into it openly, waiting to be molded. It never happened, at least in the way that he intended. I mostly learned what NOT to do from him:

Don't arrive at 11am and leave by 3pm every day and expect to maintain credibility.
Don't apply cookie-cutter tactics from Texas to a diverse, Bay-Area market.
Don't refuse to return email and phone calls from your direct reports.
Don't require strategic documents with inhumane deadlines and then fail to read or acknowledge receipt.
Don't expect respect. You have to earn it.

I have always cited this man as one of my two worst-ever bosses. Arrogant, lacking in generosity of spirit, lazy and rich in entitlement. And yet I am oddly saddened by his death. He was young, an avid runner, and in his late fifties. He discovered he had colon cancer less than 3 months ago.

I didn't care for him one bit. But I am sad about what he must have gone through, so adverse to what he believed about himself.

posted by jill # 7:26 AM
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Saturday, January 03, 2004
My husband and I spent about a year trying to have our own baby after I had The Surgery. My doctor had already forewarned me that at my age, getting pregnant would be difficult. I am oddly OK with this, mostly because I knew that I wanted to adopt since I was in my 20s.

The more I read about Russian orphanages the more resolved I am to do this. Over 600,000 children are orphans in Russia and 95% of them having at least one living parent. Poverty, alcoholism and disability are the primary reasons people give their kids up to the System. Many kids are just abandoned at birth so all they know is the hospital or orphanage environment. They develop disassociation disorders - they own nothing, they receive survival care but zero nurturing, and they live a highly structured routine that dictates when they go to the bathroom. In one photo I saw, 2 year olds were lined up down a hallway, each sitting on a pot. They had to stay there until every last one of them finished their business. I can only imagine how long that could take.

I know there are children in need in America, but the system here is too challenging. I personally know of a couple who lost 2 adopted children because the teenage birth mother changed her mind. The word "devastated" doesn't even come close to describing their pain. They had one baby for almost 1 year before having to give her back. The other baby was theirs for about 2 weeks. I also know of another couple who share their adopted daughter at Christmas with the birth mother's parents. They are all OK with this arrangement and I think it's great...for them.

So now my husband and I are waiting to begin our home study process. There is a lot of paperwork but we are up to this task. I have a new energy burning inside of me - I am excited to go through this experience and have the honor of adopting a little one.

posted by jill # 9:22 AM
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Thursday, January 01, 2004
I gave my husband a massage table for Christmas. It's one of those "double-wide's" that they sell in the Frontgate catalog. Because he's a painter, my husband gets all kinds of muscle cramps, and this was intended to help. As luck would have it, I had a migraine today so the maiden voyage of this fabulous table had me in the receiver spot.

After my husband had left the room and I basked in the candlelight and soft music, I had a small epiphany. I was thinking about an old boyfriend who I dated almost 17 years ago. We were together for about 2 years, met in San Francisco, and I moved to be with him in Oregon when he was transferred there for work. He was my first true love, and this tape ran through my mind that "I would never get over him." I thought about it further and realized that I was indeed over him. I have no desire whatsoever to be with him. No curiosity about where he is. Don't really care what he looks like. Not even wondering what he does for a living. Where I'm "stuck" is in the realization that I can want something with every fluid ounce of my being and still not get it.

I was 100% committed to making that relationship work and it didn't. I moved back to the Bay Area, still hoping that he might follow me. He didn't, and on the day that he told me he was seeing someone else, I collapsed into a 3 day crying marathon. I didn't sleep, I didn't eat. I sobbed. Every inch of my body wept from deep sorrow. Pain emanated from my skin, my eyes, my organs...even my teeth. Finally, at some point I swore to God and anyone else listening, that I would never, ever allow myself to be hurt like that again. This is one promise that I have kept.

Over the years, I've learned to guard my emotions and my expectations. While I still go for some things with 100% commitment, I've stopped being naive about the outcome. Life isn't fair. We don't always get what we want or what we think we deserve. And the best we can do is keep moving forward, learn from the past, and get over disappointment more quickly.

As I sit and read over this blog, I have to ask myself the obvious question, "Is my learning curve really 17 years long?"


posted by jill # 10:05 PM
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