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Walk Like a Man, Talk Like a Man

I loved my Grandma Evelyn very much, but she never learned the fine art of separating one piece of her life from another.

 

I think I think like a man. No judgments please, it’s only what I’ve grown to realize, over the last few years. Lately there have been some challenging circumstances that have crossed my path, both family and professionally. I’m asked fairly regularly how I’ve managed to remain calm, stay the course, remain captain of the ship at home for my kids, which on a good day seems to be its’ own challenge these days. And then the series of unfortunate events. Ay ay ay ay ay, Captain……

If we live long enough, no one is immune from misfortune. People die, get diseases or have accidents, financial challenges seem to be in our drinking water these days, tragedies abound, and everywhere you turn, or let me personalize this because perhaps you have not experienced many challenges yet, God bless, but everywhere I’ve been turning lately like many of us in the northeast over the last few months, challenges and tragedies have most definitely abounded.

I loved my Grandma Evelyn very much, but she never learned the fine art of separating one piece of her life from another, and because of that everything in her life always sucked. She was never able to enjoy her grandchildren, or a beautiful sunset. It all just sorted melded into one sucky life, and much of her misery was self -imposed and a choice. It made me feel sad for her- for the things she was missing, and very difficult to have a conversation with her because all things pointed back to her challenges, one after the next after the next. She was never able to separate.

I’m not here to be Debbie Downer or to predict your unfortunate brush with the future, or to create your luck. I’m just saying-s-t happens, and it happens to us all at some point in our lives in one way, shape or form. So either I am:

a)    Very old and jaded, or

b)   Very stupid, or, I choose to believe I am none of the above, even though I am most definitely a glass half full type of girl, but here is what I have learned along the way which has helped me not only cope, but has helped me thrive:

c)     I’ve learned to put things in boxes. To compartmentalize. For the purpose of keeping sane, for sure, but also because my other choices are not options. It keeps me off the Xanax (anti-anxiety) and it keeps me off the Zoloft (anti-depressant).

I apply this unconsciously honed skill in my everyday life, which I now think I’ve been developing since I was a wee girl, perhaps thanks to my grandma, and it has helped me be a better mother. It has helped me be a better entrepreneur. It has helped me be a better friend, and hopefully kept my friends from running for cover when they see me coming, and to be a better person in general.  It’s not always as cut and dried as I’d like it to be, and for sure there are times that are more challenging than others to pull it off, and for sure things sometimes get messy and overwhelming. We’re human. But if you are a solopreneur and a single parent and need to be the steady rudder that guides your life and your kids lives to a successful happy place, then really, you owe it to yourself to work on this.

For whatever reason, I’ve noticed that in general men do a much better job of this than women do, why I don’t know, and would love your thoughts on it, although I do believe that with women in business, we are getting much better at it.

 Try it on. It’s an ongoing exercise in self- development and self-preservation. Be conscious of carrying the negative parts of your lives into the parts of others lives, and home to your families. They didn’t do anything to deserve the results of your crappy day. You don’t want to be like my grandmother, who we learned over the years to not ever ask the question: “How are you?” Do I sound harsh? Probably.

I know I make it sound simple and it is not simple, not by any stretch, but we miss out on the joys- the simple joys of life that are right in front of our eyes when we see everything through the same lens. And that’s a damn shame.

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Deb F January 22, 2013 at 10:22 PM
My dad could always keep work and family separate but my husband certainly cannot. he works from home and doesn't know when to stop. So I conclude that it's not a man thing but an individual trait, as I too can keep things in boxes and address them in priority and when appropriate.
Suzen Pettit January 23, 2013 at 02:01 PM
well, yeah there's that pesky not knowing when to stop working thing that men seem to be prone to more than women, surely.This topic would make for a very cool anthroplogical study. Any men out there want to weigh in?
Suzen Pettit January 23, 2013 at 04:55 PM
Great point Donald and yes, hunter/gatherer/provider vs. nester/keeper of the flame. When there is just one parent present it's often up to that parent to be all of the above, which explains a lot. And when one doesn't "get" the differences both at home and at work, that's when all heck breaks loose and communication breaks down. But that's a topic for a whole 'nother blog!

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