Conversations with a 7 year old

7yo “This is not a joke”

Me “Okay”

7yo “Why are squirrels on land called land squirrels?”

Me “I don’t know”

7yo “It’s not a joke”

Me “Correct”

7yo “Why is it a land squirrel?”

Me beginning to laugh “I have no idea”

7yo “Why are you laughing? It’s not a joke!”

Me “Sweetie, I don’t call them land squirrels. I call them squirrels. I have no idea why we would call them land squirrels.”

7yo “Are there such things as sea squirrels?”

Me “I don’t know”

7yo walks away thoughtfully.

My boss has Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2

Every month the amount of people coming to the blog to find out how to deal with their BPD boss grows. For every one of you coming here to try to find out how to deal with someone that has BPD I want to hug you! Part of that may be my overly sensitive emotions and tendency towards inappropriate relationships, but more so it’s because I can see you’re going through a difficult time with someone you’re stuck with all day. That is an extremely difficult thing to deal with.

Something I mention in my first post about this topic is that you can’t change the person. That if it gets too bad then maybe look for a new job. Which is entirely unfair. I can hear the “that’s ridiculous!” and “That’s unfair!” and “Why should I be the one to change?!” screams coming through as I read my own words. And to these I respond, “yes” and “it is” and “you shouldn’t”. So why then do I leave that advice there?

The fact is we can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves. I’m not saying that the tough manager shouldn’t be held responsible. Everyone should be held responsible for their actions. But you can’t control your boss any more than I can control you. So then the question may come up of why their manager isn’t doing something about it. Maybe you can’t control them, but certainly their boss can hold them responsible, right? To which I argue, who says they’re not?

I recently fired someone, and ya know what? It took over a year. In a large corporation an HR department needs strong documentation of what the issue is, how it effects the team, how it effects the business, and proof that the employee has been made aware and given all necessary tools to change. If that can be proven and the changes have not been made, then the person can be let go. I was stuck in a situation where the employee did not work in the same office as me and I had to rely on others to provide feedback. If they didn’t then I had nothing to go off of. I needed proof that the employee was not improving despite the additional discussions, warnings, and trainings she had received. There were people who wondered why I wasn’t doing anything, but refused to provide feedback at the same time. I was doing site visits, asking for feedback, documenting everything possible. I was assigning training classes, following up, and more. I was stuck with a system that needed people to speak to me and people that refused to speak.

The manager of your BPD manager might be doing things that you aren’t aware of. Maybe they’re tying to document and people aren’t speaking up. Maybe they don’t know. Maybe they’re in process providing new trainings and looking to see if it helps. We don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. We can’t assume.

So along with taking ownership of your actions, make sure to document things and speak to your bosses boss when needed. Do so tactfully and in detail. Don’t speak on mental illness, that will make things far messier. Instead speak on specific examples of things that took place. It may take time to see improvement, but that doesn’t mean that the person isn’t being held responsible for their actions.

Here’s some examples of how to provide feedback:

Instead of “She just doesn’t understand boundaries” say “I stated last week that I am uncomfortable with her hugging, and yet she has continued to hug me.” Notice how the first statement is vague and could mean she walked past you too close for all we know. That will barely get a reaction from the big boss. The second statement, however, is an ethics violation and potentially sexual harassment. The person you report that to has to immediately follow up with some form of action.

Instead of “She has a bad temper” say “She began yelling at me in front of the team yesterday. I felt embarrassed and struggled to focus on my work the rest of the day.” The first statement could be her temper or your thin skin, no way for an outside party to know. The second statement is clearly her reacting poorly to a situation in a way that negatively impacted your work and employee moral. The first statement makes a manger want to say “work it out” while the second is likely to prompt a verbal warning if it’s the first documented offense or written warning if it’s been documented before.

Sometimes this still won’t make things change. I don’t know why, I’m not there. And it may still come to a point where you have to leave because the environment isn’t getting better. I get that. I’ve been there. I had a boss that had extremely high turnover and had a way of making her boss believe that it was because she had developed them for great things, when everyone who worked for her knew it’s because we’re all trying to get away from her. I attempted to provide feedback, my manager knew I might so never had anything in email. It was my word against hers and hers always won. I tried to switch teams and was told that I needed to learn how to work with others, and would not be allowed to work for anyone else. Meanwhile this boss was treating me and many others horribly. I left the company. They lost my skills and experience because of her. I was not the first, nor will I be the last. Last I heard from a previous coworker, her relationship with her boss doesn’t seem to be quite the same. She’s not on such a high pedestal, she’s not getting to run her team however she wants anymore, and her work is being more closely monitored. Enough people provided enough similar, and constructive, feedback that it’s finally being looked into. But not until after I had to get out.

Also keep in mind the potential for your boss to change. I recently called an employee “sweetie”. A habit of mine outside the office that accidentally slipped at the office. He reported it to my boss who mentioned it to me. Not only am I being more careful what I say to him, I am more careful what I say in general. I need to change to ensure my team feels comfortable at work. Whether the change is before or after an employee leaves, it is possible.

I’m wishing you all the best in your career! Please remember that things can get better and less stressful even if it requires tough choices to be made.

Which dinosaur had nipples?

So my son was imitating a dinosaur and asking “what dinosaur am I?” He was upright, walking with large steps and had his arms tucked in with pointer fingers pointing forward. So I guessed T-Rex. He sighed and said “No Mom, these are not short arms. They are nipples.” He was dead serious, I of course was laughing my ass off. He began to get frustrated and said “I’m serious! I can’t remember the name of the dinosaur but it is big and walks like this and has long nipples!”

I have always encouraged the scientific questions of my children so was ready to explain that there were probably a lot with nipples cause they need them to feed their young. Then I remembered that no, that is how mammals feed their young and dinosaurs are reptiles. Then I remembered we were sitting in McDonalds and this probably wasn’t the place for a lively discussion on dinosaur nipples. So I changed the topic.

Now my brain is curious as to whether this is a real dinosaur and if it had nipples but I am afraid of what bizarre thing may appear from the depths of the Internet if I search “dinosaur with nipples”. So I shall ask you. Do any of y’all know what dinosaur had long nipples sticking out its front? Is there even one like that? I would consider this part of my sons imagination but he is almost always right when it comes to creatures I don’t know about.

Let’s cut off half that compliment, thanks

“You’re doing so well considering all you’re going through!” I’m hearing that non-stop at my new office. I’m trying to take the compliment but it’s frustrating. Am I really doing well? Or am I doing only ok but getting more credit since I’ve got life junk going on?

Part of my problem is that I entered this job with imposter syndrome in full force. I kept hearing “I’m so glad you’re here!” And “you’re exactly what we need!” And “we’ve been counting down the days until you could start!” all through my first couple of days. That’s a pretty high expectation to walk into. So my brain kept wondering how long before they realize I’m a fake, that I’m not good enough, that they made a huge mistake on me.

As the compliments grow, so do my doubts. Which means they try to praise me for doing great things in spite of the insanity of my life I hear only that they’re making excuses for me not doing all that great. The nasty voice in my head should leave me alone. And I hope eventually people will cut off the “considering” part of their compliments.

I’m back… kind of

Sorry for my sudden disappearance. Life went a little crazy all of a sudden. And by “a little crazy” I mean we moved, I started a new job, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer all within the span of a week. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to focus and keep things moving. So I plan to get back to posting on a semi regular basis, but things will be a bit slow.

You’re asking me?

I rarely feel like I’ve got my shit together. Most of the time I see the shit and no togetherness whatsoever. Yet at work I’m fairly good at faking it, you have to be as a manager. So this morning one of our newer employees began asking me at what point does a job become a career. Wow, now that is a tough question to be greeted with before the second cup of coffee!

We chatted for a bit and it turns out he is at a point in his school that he has to choose a major and he’s second (and third, and fourth) guessing himself. I explained that that is entirely understandable. I changed majors 3 times before finally completing school (less than a year ago, and more than a decade older than he is). I explained that to me a career is about having growth opportunity. It’s about knowing that there is a path and you’re not stuck. That maybe job vs career means something different to others, but that’s what I needed for me.

It was not what he was expecting to hear and seemed to really make him think. I asked what he did and didn’t like about his work. What he did and didn’t like about his current classes. And then gave him a few things to consider where studying through that path left options open as he fine tuned his skills and desires. But I think what he needs to know more than anything, and what I failed to properly explain today, is that no matter what he’s very likely to succeed. I’ve seen how fast he learns at the office, how calm he is regardless of situation, and how he actively works with his team. As long as he keeps this dedication and work ethic nothing will hold him down.

So to everyone wondering the same thing please remember that your wonderings prove desire and dedication. Your thoughtfulness on these questions shows determination and intelligence. And that is what will bring you far in your career, more so than anything else.

Oh, and one more thing to remember. That manager in the office who you think has her shit together so can answer these questions and help guide you, yeah she’s lost too. You’re not alone in your fear and confusion. But I guess that means I’m not alone either.

Sometimes the best explanation is none at all

I just started to listen to Stephen Kings It on audiobook. When Georgie meets Pennywise at the beginning and then suddenly turns from clown to monster the description of the monster is so freaky. Why? Because it’s not a description. It is a feeling and thought process from the point of view of Georgie. It is an explanation that the monster his imagination comes up with to fear in the cellar is nothing close to what he saw. And to hear this makes you fear this Pennywise creature more than just about any character in a book.

Once I got over the shock and tears of the scene I was hearing I realized, this is much like mental illness. Why is it so hard to describe to those who don’t have it? There really are no words for how terrible this illness can be. And the fact that science is still early in understanding it makes it that much harder. I often speak of my mental illness as the monster in my mind. And sometimes that monster is a creepy clown lurking in the shadows and I can mostly ignore it. And sometimes that clown turns into something so horrifying and overwhelming that it cannot be put into words. I suppose I’ll take my mental Pennywise over the one that Georgie faces, but that doesn’t mean my mental one doesn’t terrify me sometimes.

Why should I ignore their ancestors?

My husband has no information on his biological father other than the Indian tribe he was from. He never built an interest in his genetic past so didn’t much research the tribe. I however have always had a great deal of appreciation for Native American tribes and their rituals. I have even been honored with the opportunity to be a part of a religious ceremony with a local tribe in my youth. So when I married my husband I began to research his tribe.

My oldest son is a Cub Scout and part of what he’s supposed to review with me is our family’s belief system. Well, our family believes in the First Amendment. That is what we teach and practice in our household. It would be simple enough to go the traditional route of “here’s Christianity in a nutshell. Have fun at your grandparents church” but I wanted to teach my son something new. I went back to the religious practices of his tribe, for which he is one quarter, and thought that would be a good one. But then I became nervous.

He’s awkward to speak to, so may not articulate well what he learns. Someone who does not know him well may take his knowledge the wrong way. If I help him make a headdress with feathers carefully placed in the unique manner his tribe did, then it would be thought that he was being inconsiderate of tribal fashion by those who don’t know what we’re doing. If someone sees me, naturally blonde with green eyes and glow-in-the-dark-white skin, teaching my son about his tribe it will look like I’m misinforming him about Native Americans.

It is not okay that I should fear teaching my children about their ancestral past. It is ridiculous that I should be nervous to teach feather placement and bead color of a headdress. I hate that I can’t speak about Spirit Animals without someone assuming I’m making light of it when they have no idea the amount of research I’ve put into the beliefs. I need to be able to speak with my son about the religious practices of the tribe he comes from even if we don’t live anywhere near it or know who among the tribe he is related to.

I’m doing it anyway. I don’t give a shit what other people think of it, I don’t have patience for that right now. So tomorrow we’re studying the culture and I won’t allow my fear to get in the way this time.

I’m wife enough for him

So hubby and I got to chatting about communes, cause that is apparently our version of causal Saturday morning chitchat 🤷‍♀️ And he said we couldn’t live in one cause it will lead to a suicide pact or an FBI raid. I explained we didn’t need to go THAT far with our commune and tried to bribe him with the prospect of multiple wives. He looked horrified! I’d like to think it was because he couldn’t imagine loving any wife as much as me but let’s face facts here, I’m just too damn high-maintenance for him to imagine having multiple of me to deal with. Sometimes being high-maintenance is a good thing, it means I’m more than enough wife for my husband 💏

Gotta be honest… looks like a sock to me

Knitting knitting knitting “ah crap”. That is basically the story of this damn sock.

So in case you’re not following, I am knitting socks right now. Knitting is a coping tool for when my brain monster is taking control, so I’ve been doing it a lot lately. I decided to try a sock again, I’ve never successfully finished one but I was feeling hopeful. Upon finishing the ribbing I noticed a mistake in one of the rows. Looks wonky but not overly noticeable so I kept going. Then I finished everything before the heel, success! Furthest I’ve ever made it! Oh wait, my repeat pattern has a mistake a few rows back. I’m really bad at ripping back and picking up stitches so I’ll let it go.

I finished the heel flap yesterday, so proud of myself! And it was done without mistakes! Yay! Started the heel turn. Got to row 9 before I realized I’d done the whole fucking heel turn wrong.

I burst into tears. Hubby was wondering what was wrong. I held up the sock and said it was all screwed up and I should just give up. He said it looked fine and asked what was wrong with it. I pointed to the mistake in the ribbing, the one in the ankle, and then to the heel turn which would fit only if my heel slanted to the left.

Hubby looked at the sock thoughtfully, examined each part I had pointed to, then calmly looked at me and said “I gotta be honest with you. It looks like a sock to me.” 😐

So I went to bed and am trying again today. I had to rip out the heel turn, but couldn’t successfully pick up the stitches in the heel flap, so had to rip back all the way to the last row before starting the heel. Now to start the damn heel again.

Round 1 goes to sock, but Round 2 shall be mine!