Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who's the boss?

I am on a Board of Directors. So I am, by virtue of holding that position, a boss of sorts (a fact that I find enormously funny since I can't even get my own sh!t together, let alone be in any way in charge of an organization). I am a volunteer for that same organization and do a lot of administrative work that should, in a perfect world, be done by a paid employee. Our micro-sized company can't afford a paid employee, so I do it. And I really don't mind doing the work...but it is an odd place to be.

I find that I take criticism very personally because, after all, I am donating my time. And it seems that lately there is PLENTY of criticism to go around. I'm not doing enough. I'm doing a lot as far as I can tell...but it's not enough. I made a snarky comment that paid staff weren't doing enough (a fact that most everyone involved in the organization will agree with on any normal day)...and I got a snarky comment from the manager in return ("This is what I get paid for. I'm very busy"). SO...it seems that I am supposed to accept criticism...work harder...and keep her mouth shut.

The boss side of me wants to cut a path of destruction and leave nobody standing. Criticism? I've got it if you REALLY want to hear it. In fact, a lot of what our employees get away with would be considered fireable offenses anywhere else. So maybe we should really take a good hard look at policies and procedures and whip the place into shape. But I know that would make it VERY unpleasant for everyone involved.

And then, the volunteer side of me alternates between wanting to (1)fight the good fight and play cheerleader and (2)tuck my tail and run away. Constantly working and working and working behind the scenes without any acknowledgment, only to be told it's not good enough...well...I'll be honest...it's taking a toll. I can not even begin to count the number of hours I have devoted to business operations...a job that I do not get paid for. Every day I do something or other for the organization. Every.Single.Day. And all I seem to hear is criticism. I know I'm not being overly sensitive because I heard the same complaints from volunteers/Board members who have since resolved the conflict for themselves by leaving the organization entirely.

I don't consider myself to be the kind of "me" person that needs constant acknowledgment or positive reinforcement. So I guess I'm searching for inspiration. How to continue to do what I'm doing and feeling good about it...how to block out the stream of negativity that keeps coming at me...how to maintain a professional viewpoint and keep the snark to a minimum when I really just feel like screaming profanities. How do you motivate people to do better when you don't feel it yourself? How do you motivate paid staff who should already be motivated AND motivate volunteers who are feeling under-appreciated? I feel like I've tried it all. Picnics...thank you notes...freebies...it doesn't seem to be working. It just seems to result in a "more, more, more" attitude. And how do you motivate your fellow Board members who seem to have time for every other activity under the sun except the activities relevant to THIS organization? How do you move an organization forward that doesn't want to be moved? that is happy with the status quo? that will not plan ahead and will eventually result in the dissolution of the organization altogether?

I had no idea this would be such a complicated gig when I agreed to join the Board. But now I'm here and I feel a responsibility to do something with it. I'm just not sure how to get to success from here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The rhythm is gonna getcha

I'm used to the staccato rhythm of grief and sadness. The short phrases that my voice chokes out in a cadence of punches...blows to the heart. It reflects itself in my writing. Twitter-sized thoughts...condensed to 140 characters or less. Spit it out and move away.

So I must admit I am enjoying this not-new-but-not-quite-familiar feeling that has me threading moments together into something strong but soft and beautiful. There is a continuity that lets us fight about who left the lid off the jar of peanut butter (and laughing about it later). There are long and complicated thoughts that run together but aren't so harsh that they need to be purged from the soul via the keyboard. In fact, they are soothing in a way as they wrap themselves around the soul and remind me that this can be life too.

I will never apologize for the level of great joy my two living children bring to me. Watching them play and laugh together is the best kind of soothing balm for my battered heart. And once again there is no point to get to...no life or death decisions to make...no wondering if tomorrow will bring disaster. We just spend the time along this thread without wondering if we will lose our footing and fall off the high-wire.

My family, my work, my volunteer work...they are all so amazing. Yes, there are things about each that drive me batshit crazy at times. But then I remember how wonderful this is...this NORMALCY...and I work my way around the minor irritation(s).

I don't mind admitting that it's just so lovely to feel the rhythm of happiness again. Don't get me wrong...sometimes that harsh drumbeat of grief bursts through and temporarily ruins the sweet melody of peace (thank you, Fisher Price), BUT it isn't all I hear anymore.

I think I'm gonna make it. I don't know how or why. But that's fine. I don't need to know how or why.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How nice of Fisher Price

Your baby is finally here! The Fisher-Price® Family extends our congratulations and warmest wishes to your new—or growing—family. We hope the prenatal e-mails we sent over the last nine months or so were interesting and informative as your pregnancy progressed. And now, as you start the exciting adventure of life with your new baby boy or girl, we'd like to send you Fisher-Price® Family PlayTIMES™.

Tell us why you're unsubscribing...

"My baby died back in April. I tried unsubscribing before...you obviously didn't get the message."

It's funny though...I didn't cry this time.
I laughed.
Don't know what that says about me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The impatience of grief

I find myself struggling with impatience these days. My children won't listen. My friends that do volunteer work have their own agendas and aren't available to do the projects I think are important. My husband, bless his heart, is a wonderful husband...but he can't read my mind (like I think he should).

And so I try to stay busy. Project after project after project. No time to sit and listen to my third-grader read aloud for 15 minutes a day. No time to do housework. No time to cook or bake. No time to watch tv. No time to think. Thinking is forbidden. Thinking takes me to that place where the might-have-beens grab hold of me and shake me until I want to vomit.

And so I organize projects for "the greater good." Nothing worth anything to me or my family. As if providing the benefit to someone/something else will somehow buy me favor somewhere. As if I can still make a bargain.

For what? I honestly don't know. I'm too tired, too impatient, too angry.

I was having people to the house today and was in a hurry to clean. I squeezed the dead baby brick onto a shelf where it is just stored...not displayed...not cherished. Shoved on a shelf like a tattered paperback you don't care much about. The thing is...I do care. I want to hurl the f***ing thing through the window. I hate it. It's just another reminder and I hate it.

My glider rocking chair broke. I guess since I won't need it to rock a brick to sleep that that is just perfect timing.

And no amount of fundraising will fix any of it. Nothing fixes it. Nothing makes it better. Not crying. Not stuffing 600 trick or treat bags. Not schmoozing with sponsors.

But at least someone benefits from my impatience.