Monthly Archives: September 2013

WELCOME TO “MY” WORLD…

Christopher Bartlett Allen and I were put directly into each other’s path.  No doubts.  God intended for us to meet and be together.  Chris saved me from myself.  He set me on a whole new course of direction, looking for “ME” with a new sense of optimism and “hope” for the future.

Choosing, OR…learning to be happy, NO MATTER WHAT!!!  Boy, this was difficult for me.  A true pessimist my whole life.  Finding ANYTHING good to be happy about was nearly impossible.  I had spent all of my elementary, Jr. High, and High School years in Ohio seeking attention via “sadness” or “depression.”  Boy, and I could play the role tremendously!  The feelings NEVER “fit” the behavior, however.  I felt NOTHING!  Total numbness!  But I sure knew how to “act ” sad or depressed.  And it’s really kind of…oh, I don’t know…let’s say… “C…R…A…Z…Y,” how I almost “NEEDED” something bad to happen so that I could play that role of a sad, depressed girl.  Yep, I must say that I fabricated conflict in the here and now, so that my inner sadness could be released.  Here is that premise again…an “inner turmoil…” being vented inappropriately or on a fabricated situation.  Deep stuff, huh?

So, I then survive a car accident at 22.  Earn an Associate Degree in Science for Occupational Therapy.  Pass the Board exam.  Complete 1 full year of employment, my entry-level year, and then set out in this world to “find myself.”  The first thing I learned about “ME?”  I HATED TO BE ALONE!!!  It took me a LONG time to realize that the MAIN reason I did not like to be alone all those years ago is because I DID NOT LIKE MYSELF!!!  Think about how difficult that was.  Having to spend every minute with someone I did not like.  I could tolerate myself when other people were around,  like at work, or with friends, but in the privacy of my apartment…ALONE…with myself?  Oh, no!!!  Thus began the “best year of my single life” in Daytona Beach, FL as I refer to it.  Lots of good times.  Little sleep.  VERY LITTLE SLEEP!  Think about it…I hated to be alone with myself.  I slept VERY LITTLE.  Sleeping meant that I had to be at home, ALONE…BY MYSELF!!!  I quickly became the “joke” amongst our group of friends.  We would do something “together” every evening.  EVERYONE having fun… while I napped on someone’s floor or couch!  But at least I wasn’t alone…nope, I was not alone, or by my “self.”

Fast forward through many difficult years, learning to view the glass as half-full, instead of half-empty.  The NEW world I now choose to call my world is also known as “Jolly Jill’s World,” a phrase captioned by my co-workers in conjunction with my negative, self talk.  See, I have difficulty with my short-term memory and visual discrimination due to the head injury I sustained in that, life saving, car accident in 1986.  I frequently lose things or can’t find them, or I forget what I went somewhere specific to “get,” and on, and on, and on.  So whenever anyone else does something similar, I simply say “Welcome to my world.”  And because I try to find the good or positive in things, often while singing–remember…I AM, A.K.A.:   THE SINGING THERAPIST– a few of my co-workers have turned “MY WORLD,” into “JOLLY JILL’S WORLD!”  Quite fitting, I might add.

“MY WORLD.”  Boy, I actually look forward to sharing  specific incidents with you regarding this, so called, “world” I live in…LATER…

 

 

 

 

 

REFLECTION TIME…

LIFE…Hhhmmm… am just finding myself looking back, reflecting over what has been mine.  MY LIFE…

Nov. 16, 1986 … the car accident that completely changed everything.  The old “ME” was gone.  I tried, initially, to resume living my life as “ME,” in a new, awkwardly disabled body with a completely different personality and “mind set,” however, this proved too difficult.  I felt so out of place EVERYWHERE!  Social settings were the WORST!!!  I, no longer, knew how to communicate or act around people who had known me before.  I was not that same person anymore.  I can remember being filled with “awkward” anxiety at any and all social events, talking myself into surviving situations until I could re-enter the safety and security zone of my parents’ home.  The turmoil of trying to live life  as “ME” when I no longer knew who I was, challenged me to leave Ohio, in search of “ME.”  Thus, marking the beginning of MY JOURNEY.

Yep.  I left that old life of mine behind! Tried to walk away from everything and everyone that had been a part of it at all!  Starting over!  Yep!  Starting over as my new “self.”  This was hard, to say the least, as I didn’t particularly know or even like this new “self” I had become.  Life was truly difficult. Getting to know “ME,” learning to like “ME,” and introducing this new “ME” to a whole new world.

Things have worked out pretty well in this life as the new “ME” for me.  I Must admit that I like the new “ME” quite a bit better than the old.  As you know, I have a wonderful husband, two amazing children, a career I absolutely LOVE, a nice home, and two dogs!  I have truly been blessed.  I am totally happy and at peace, within myself, regarding my life from beginning to where I am at today.

WHAT’S YOUR STYLE???

Communication…is SO very important.  Most of our daily conflicts are the result of poor communication skills.  Think about your daily interactions.  Whom are they with?  What’s your style?  Do you say what you mean or do you tip-toe around the subject?  Do you tend to use humor?  Sarcasm?  What is your basic style of communication?  And what does the style you use most say about you?  And how does all of this impact the success of your teams?

DIRECT COMMUNICATION:  Say what you mean.  Be exact.  Don’t leave any room for interpretation.  How can anyone make good, sound decisions based on unclear information?  I am ALWAYS guilty of saying EXACTLY what is on my mind.  Perhaps I could use more “tact” as my husband calls it, but everyone is always sure where I stand.  That’s how I communicate.  Direct.  Straight to the point.  Most things are “black or white” to me.  Right or wrong.  I am a very literal thinker and do not “read between the lines” very well at all.  This is why I communicate in a direct manner and this is what I need from others or I just don’t “get it!”  Use this form of communication sparingly.  These individuals are often seen as over-bearing or “snotty.” Complete directness is not always necessary.

SARCASTIC COMMUNICATION:  Using “humor” to, indirectly, insult an individual.  Perhaps this indicates a low self-esteem or a feeling of inadequacy on the part of the individuals who use this form of communication.  I do not understand why it is necessary to, jokingly, say anything to someone with an intention to hurt them.  People always walk away from a situation where sarcasm was used wondering, “What were they really meaning to say?”  There is always a sense of “uneasiness,” feelings are hurt, some people get angry.  This is a touchy communication style.  Use it sparingly, if possible, or not at all.

ANGRY COMMUNICATION:  Stating EVERYTHING in an angry tone of voice.  Something is ALWAYS wrong.  These folks are chronic complainers.   Life is so difficult FOR ALL OF US!!!  Trying to be up-beat around these individuals doesn’t help a whole lot.  They probably aren’t even aware of how they’re presenting themselves.  Over-use of anger becomes irritating to teammates.  However, used sparingly and appropriately, it can be quite effective.

HUMOROUS COMMUNICATION:  Always joking around or laughing during most of your conversations.  Jumping from one topic to another, with little regard to depth of topic covered.   Some individuals rarely discuss difficult or serious issues.  Too much humor becomes irritating.  Used sparingly and appropriately, humor can add “the perfect flavor.”  I’ve never thought of myself as a very funny person, but I must admit I’m getting better with practice and I, thoroughly, enjoy it!

SAD COMMUNICATION:  We all have our down days and this is okay.  Some  teammates will try to help you get out of the dumps, temporarily, however their support will begin to fade if you get stuck down AND wallowing.  This could, then, be viewed as a negative, attention seeking behavior pattern.

Other communication styles could be mentioned, as well.  However, these few were chosen to just get you thinking.  A healthy mix of various communication styles is, likely, most successful to utilize throughout your day.  I encourage you to take note of those styles utilized by yourself and your teammates.  Perhaps a greater awareness of how these different styles directly impact the outcome of your daily conversations will allow you to alter your approach, as indicated, to increase the success of your daily encounters with teammates.

Goodluck!!!  And GO TEAM!!!  WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!!!

“READING PEOPLE”

Knowing how to interact appropriately with people depending on their specific personality traits will give you an added advantage.  Giving them what they need first increases the likelihood that they will give back what YOU want.  This doesn’t mean that you are always manipulating people.  It, first, indicates a genuine desire to acquire  positive outcomes for all involved.  Thereby indicating…YOU CARE and are willing to put more effort into those relationships in order for them to be most beneficial to those involved.  Simple, right?  This is what I refer to as “reading people.”  This is a skill which can greatly increase your success in various situations with people that occur throughout your day.

Group 1:  HAPPY PEOPLE:  We all know who these folks are.  Bubbly, optimistic, FUN, upbeat.  You know them, right?  These people are the BEST group of people to deal with, Period!  They are flexible, accommodating, slow to anger, and JUST PLAIN FUN!!!  Any method of approach will work with these folks.

Group 2:  Sad people:  This is another easy group of people to quickly identify.    At first glance, you can tell.  Facial expressions and body language give them away immediately.  Take an interest in these individuals, expressing concern and a willingness to lend an ear.  Your genuine caring attitude will solidify this relationship immediately.

Group 3:  Angry people:    I, generally, will approach these  individuals with a “KILL ‘EM WITH KINDNESS” attitude.  This may take some time to actually have a positive impact on your relationship with them.  YOU WILL, however, notice at some point, that  they are being nicer to you while still being mean-spirited to all others!

Now we will take a look at three additional subgroups, any of which can be paired with a group from above to accurately “READ PEOPLE.”

Subgroup A:  Perfectionistic people:  Very difficult to deal with.  They always want things to be done “RIGHT,” without any mistakes.  HELLO!!!  As humans, WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES!!!  These folks are never happy, because…NOTHING IS EVER PERFECT!  Put on your professional hat and behavior with these folks…AND…TREAD LIGHTLY!!!  Never confront or challenge, THEY WILL ALWAYS WIN!!!  These folks can prove that white is black when cornered.  Surrender, folks.  You will never win going up against these individuals.

Subgroup B:  Controlling people:  Very difficult, as well, to deal with.  They always want to be in charge.  To give orders.  They want things done THEIR WAY, or no way.  This gives them a feeling of being important.  Swallow your pride, allow these folks to assume  leadership roles if applicable.  These are the folks who will make sure that things get done.  Another controversial group, however.  You will not win any arguments with them, either!  They are always right, just ask them!!!

Subgroup C:  easy-going people:  Very agreeable followers.  They do not want to be in charge or to make decisions.  These folks just want to finish their day’s requirements with as little controversy as possible.

For the sake of discussion, the above groups and sub groups were identified to get us started.  As we all know, however, people can come in variations of any of those groups/subgroups listed above.  Many others  may also be identified. Study those people you have frequent contact with in order to interact more appropriately with them.  This will improve the quality of those interactions, thereby enabling more successful encounters.  Ah, I love that word… “SUCCESS!”

THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL HELP…

Hopefully, you have been able to take an objective look at your own personal “tendencies.”   If your tendencies are generally negative, then read, read, read…..positive, motivational material.  This truly helps.  Perhaps your life has been plagued by enough difficulties that you need additional help coping with, and understanding, or “making sense of it all.”  How do you know when you need additional help?  EASY!!!  If you are on a constant roller-coaster, going from one extreme to another, extreme happiness to intense anxiety, worry over “losing control,” then YOU NEED ADDITIONAL HELP!  And, what exactly, does seeking additional help involve?  Counseling and/or medication prescribed by a psychiatrist.  Both have helped me tremendously.

As many have already noted, I spoke very little of my life prior to that, life- saving, car accident I was involved in at age 22.  This is purposeful, folks.  I am not sure, yet, how to  present those years and the devastating impact they had on my life, forcing me to cope with life in ways that helped to shape me into the person I was becoming.  And I did not like that person AT ALL!  Thus, began my search to find “what was wrong with ME.”

Some of the symptoms presented by those “crazy” behaviors we, unknowingly, use as coping techniques can often resemble psychiatric diagnoses.  I, particularly, was “SURE” that I suffered from Bipolar Disorder, or Manic-Depressive Disorder.  Extreme elation one minute, followed by, generally, extreme anger or anxiety the next.  Sometimes, the anger or anxiety was replaced with extreme sadness.  None of these episodes, however, lasted longer than a day or so and my moods could flip so quickly, there was generally, no time to prepare for it.  After being convinced that I did not suffer from Bipolar Disorder,  I later became certain that I had early onset, Alzheimer’s Disease.  Oh, the uneasiness of living daily life knowing that something was wrong, but not knowing what!  I had a wonderful husband and two small children to be concerned about at this time.  And so…the search continued, trying to discover what was wrong with me..

This was a long, drawn out process, folks.  God, FINALLY, revealed my problems at the age of 43.  Oh, the ANGER!!!  I had lost all of those years…”the best years of my life,” or so I thought they SHOULD have been.  Most of my childhood, all of my teen years, my 20’s,  my 30’s and the first three years of my 40’s!!!  GONE!!!   ALL of those years were gone.  And I had lived ALL of them, emotionally unstable and UNHAPPY!

Folks, we all get one shot at life.  The majority of mine has been focused on finding what was wrong with me, rather than living or enjoying it.  My journey to finding complete happiness has been LONG!  And this time period included 20+ yrs of my actively searching for reasons to explain my instability or unhappiness. This is why I often encourage people to “make today count!”  Now is the time to address your issues, not tomorrow or later.   Every day of your life is so very precious, folks, and “NOW” never gets here if you keep putting it off until tomorrow!

LIFE IS GOOD!  MY GOD IS GREAT!!!  Finding that Higher Power to guide you through life is essential for me.  My God gives me strength and guidance to face all of life’s challenges or difficulties on a daily basis.  I do realize, however, that not all of you have found God, or that Higher Power to guide you.  This is why I do not speak, regularly, of my Faith.  It is my desire to touch the lives of as many people as possible, in a positive manner, without turning away ANYONE.  This is life, folks.  Extremely precious, but VERY DIFFICULT…FOR ALL OF US!!!  We are all members of our individual, everyday teams, YET, we are all a part of the same, larger scale teams:  TEAM USA  and TEAM WORLD.  My vision is VERY BIG, folks.  And hopefully, WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!!!  GO TEAM!!!  AND…MAKE TODAY COUNT!!!  🙂

DISCOVERING YOUR “TENDENCIES”

Now, take a closer look at yourself…

Are you generally positive, or negative?  Optimistic or pessimistic?  Happy or sad/angry? And are you able to alter your reactions to situations?  If you are, then choose to be positive.  Always look for the good .  There is a positive side to EVERYTHING.  Can you find it?

I tend to believe that consistently edging toward the negative side indicates inner turmoil.  You have come to expect the worst in every situation.  Why?  Do you think you don’t deserve better?  Are you simply avoiding the pain of failure by expecting failure?  Good questions.  And they can go on and on.  But, looking closer…examine those specific, recurrent thoughts that enter your mind with each new situation/endeavor.  If you already know your negativity is due to inner turmoil than perhaps you should seek professional guidance.   Most likely, however, you struggle through daily life unaware of that inner turmoil.   Individuals can live their entire lives without REALLY knowing “WHY” their “issues” originated in the first place.  Many individuals do not realize that they even have issues.  Look for those answers to questions you may be afraid to find.  Finding them may set you free, enabling you to enjoy life to its fullest.

I have ALWAYS believed that everything happens for a reason.  We, as individuals, do things with purpose.  Otherwise, WHY DO THEM?  This includes our emotional reactions to various situations.  Do you respond negatively, or inappropriate??  Can you control this or not?  Uncontrollable, negative reactions to any situation indicates an unhealthy coping mechanism.  Anger in place of pain.  Not good folks. This is what allows people to find themselves in situations where they suddenly “snap” and cannot control their angry outburst.  Get the help you need, folks.  There is no shame in seeking help prior to allowing tragedy to occur.

And what about conflict?  Do you avoid it?  Do you face it?  Or do you CAUSE it?  Sometimes, conflict is fabricated by an individual, subconsciously, to allow a “release” of inner turmoil.  Do you ever feel “happy” anywhere?  Happy at home?  Happy at work?  Happy within yourself?  Chances are, YOU ARE NOT HAPPY ANYWHERE if you are not happy within yourself.

It is very difficult to take an objective look at our own, personal deficiencies, but they are there.  We are human and, thereby, imperfect.  Take a deeper look at your “tendencies” in behavior, first, and we will then discuss the appropriateness of approaches to other individuals based on their “tendencies.”

GETTING THROUGH EACH DAY–MORE ABOUT……”ME” :)

Wanting to share some more about “ME”…

I struggled, horribly, as I began my career as a C.O.T.A. ( Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant ).  I ALWAYS questioned my capabilities and NEVER felt competent.  Increased work demands resulted in horrible anxiety.  MY anxiety hit me like a waterfall.  I could feel this drunken sensation overtake me, beginning in my head and free-falling down through the rest of my body.  I got dizzy, couldn’t walk straight, and spoke words as though I were intoxicated!!!  Oh, the anxiety!!  I was sure to fall apart, revealing my inadequacies to co-workers.  I’d scream inside my head, “STOP!  STOP!  STOP!!!”, trying to gather myself before blowing my cover.  This was always followed by the frantic prayer “God, PLEASE Help ME!!!”  I always attempted to calm myself in an effort to hide who and what I really was:  an overwhelmed, unqualified, and “LOST” individual, desperately seeking to survive independently.

Allow me to now introduce you to my husband, Christopher Bartlett Allen.  MY ROCK.  MY SOUL-MATE.  With his constant optimistic coaching, I learned to utilize positive, self-talk to calm my inner chaos enough to appear okay on the outside  when I was TOTALLY NUTS  on the inside.  He taught me to begin each day by responding “GREAT!” no matter how lousy or depressed I felt,  whenever asked “How are you?”  I quickly noted that this REALLY works and in no time I was responding “GREAT” with complete sincerity!!!  My pastor had a difficult time with this tactic as I explained it like this…”Fake it til ya make it!!!”  He was disturbed by the phrase “fake it,” pointing out that faking  was, in a way, “LYING!”  WHAT???  ARE YOU SERIOUS???  Come on, Pastor.  Aren’t you taking this a bit too extreme?  LYING???  PLEASE!!!  I was simply implying that I should, in essence, “act” my way to greatness!

Some of the different roles I have assumed over the years to help me…”ACT” my way to feeling GREAT include:  1)  the “singing therapist,” role play beginning approximately the late 90’s; 2)  The “crazy one.”  I’m sure this developed out of my actual fear that I WAS REALLY CRAZY!!!; 3)  Facility cheerleader, complete with uniform and pom poms!!! ; 4)  Sheriff Allen, complete with fake id and badge;  4) “PEBBLECITA”….es mi nombre… en su casa!!!  This means that my name is “Small Pebble” and I am in your house…I think!!!; and 5) the unbalanced therapist, wearing 2 different shoes of the same style to indicate my “off balance” ness!!! I am currently “trying” to step down as Sherriff Allen–this is more difficult than you might think as this character, soooooo, “fits” my personality.  And I now wear ONLY matching shoes, thereby indicating that I am no longer “OFF BALANCE.”  :/ Perhaps there are a few roles that I have assumed over the years and forgotten, but this gives you a pretty good idea how I have learned to  survive my difficult times while, hopefully, getting a laugh or two out of angry, depressed, or suicidal patients AND disgruntled employees.  And I know that YOU know who you are, you disgruntled employees!!!

All joking aside, I need to re-emphasize that “LIFE IS DIFFICULT” for all of us, folks.  Please try your best to “act” your way to greatness when, perhaps, your life might be anything BUT great.  Remember,  “Your mind ONLY knows what YOU tell it!”  So, try telling it something positive to start your day.  I guarantee YOU WILL feel better by day’s end!!!

GO TEAM!!!  And goodluck.  We’re all in this together!!!

“MOVING” forward…

After reading that last post, some of you may realize that you do not like your “position or positions in life” and you may be wondering:  “How do I move?”   As previously stated, “LIFE IS DIFFICULT!!!”  And I will emphasize this AGAIN…”If you don’t like where you’re at in life, then MOVE!!!”  Now, lets say that your “position in life” includes such things as your thoughts, your beliefs, your reputation, your vocation, your physical location (where you live), etc.  Now, how can you “move” from these positions you don’t like?  Simply stated, you need to make a change…

Seriously folks, this is America.  The land of the free.  Home of the brave…You simply need to  make the changes necessary.  Be courageous.  There is no need to fear change, especially if you are not happy where you are.  You get one shot at Life!  MAKE IT COUNT!!!

As far as your position amongst those people belonging to your teams…Present yourself the way you choose to be perceived.  Wanna be a leader?  Act like one.  Wanna be a team player?  Act like one.  Easy, right?  Let’s go one step further…

Write the script for YOUR starring role in YOUR own life’s movie.  Act out the role of that perfect character you choose to be.  Folks, this is BIG!!!  We truly are, as individuals, the main characters of our own life’s “movie!”  So, WRITE YOUR OWN SCRIPT!!!  And make it GOOD!!!  Oh, yeah…THIS IS REALLY DEEP!!!  What’s more, we are the writer, producer, director, and actor of our own life’s movie.  Oh, I’m onto something here, folks.  WE ARE ALL STARS!!!  Bigger than Hollywood actors/actresses!  They only need to memorize someone else’s words and “act” out the scripts pre-written by other people that lead to a perfect ending.  Boy, that sounds easy.  Are you getting this, people?  Hollywood should be showing displays of adulation to us everyday people who write, produce, direct and act out our lives daily, without the opportunity for “re-takes!!!”

Again, we come back to the fact that “This is America.”  You have that freedom of choice.  Do you “get” what I’m saying?  Every choice that you make is FREE for you to make.  Please don’t make choices that you don’t like!!!  If you know it’s wrong, then DON’T DO IT!!!

Boy, I sure enjoyed writing this post and I hope that you enjoyed reading it!!!  Please let me know your thoughts or opinions.  I’m anxious to receive them.  🙂

Positions In LIFE

Okay folks, read and re-read this next point until it is  fully understood…

You fill a specific role, or position, on each of the teams to which you belong.  This can include your family status , such as husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, etc.; your job role/position, such as staff member, supervisor, manager, administrator, business owner, etc.; member or participant of any group, affiliation; elected status on any group affiliation, leader, follower, etc., etc., etc.  Whatever you can come up with to fit here, fits here.

Now, determine YOUR responsibility in each of those roles/positions you fill.  Do you even accept the fact that you have any responsibility as a member of those teams?  Well, as an active participant in life, you automatically get burdened with the responsibilities that go along with living and enjoying that life.  You get ONE chance at life.  Please make it count…for you, your family, your community, our country, our world.  Each of us needs to give the best of ourselves to contribute, positively, to that which we partake in.

I have said it before and I will say it again…”LIFE IS DIFFICULT!!!”  For everybody.  And here is something else I have already said:  “Where you are in life is the result of where you have been, seeking to survive.”  Every experience faced in life has a direct impact on the person we become.  Our reactions to situations, the coping techniques we utilize to simply continue moving forward help shape us into becoming who we are.  Bottom line…Everything in  LIFE affects everything in LIFE.

Stand up, America.  Accept your responsibilities of those positions you hold in life with pride.  And for those of you who don’t like where you are at in LIFE…I am serious when I say…”MOVE!!!”