Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Difference Is


                                                                                    ©PinUp Toons CDO-2389

I entitled my Blog – ‘Attitude Matters’, and, every now and then, something happens to make me realize just how true this is. In fact, we are in the middle of one of those ‘now and thens’ right now.

I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say, just when we thought things were really looking up, the rug was pulled from under us and we are looking up alright, but from the bottom of the barrel.

It occurs to me now that we have two choices. We can drown in a sea of self pity; we can stay angry and bitter and bemoan our lot as ‘victims’. Or we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.

And that is actually the only difference between us and a lot of the people out there living on the streets – our attitude. We have determined to be survivors.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying ‘Why us?’ Why do things like this keep happening to us? But why not us? What makes us any more special than anyone else? We may look at other people and think they have it easy. We may think their lives are perfect – the big, beautiful home, the high paying job, the closeness of their relationship with their partner and their family. I once heard some one say that if you scratch the surface of anyone’s life, you will inevitably find a multitude of problems. Some people just hide it better than others.

Life will go on – regardless of what is happening in our little world. We really have no choice but to go on with it. It’s our attitude that will determine in what state we complete the journey – defeated and broken, or strong and confident that we have given it our best shot.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Are People So Unkind?


Why are people so unkind?

This was a classic quote oft used by singer Kamahl, and it was the first thought that popped into my head today while Blog Surfing. A lady had poured out her heart regarding a hurtful family situation. Some one had come along to launch a really spiteful attack, to the extent where this anonymous reader called the blog author ‘mildly psychotic’.

Now everyone is entitled to their opinion. And because Blogs are very public forms of expression, they do leave the writer vulnerable. But if you come across sentiments expressed in a Blog that don’t agree with your own personal views then, for goodness sake, just move on. Don’t take the attitude that it’s your God given right to school this Blogger in the art of living their life according to your beliefs and standards.

Oh, you could see where this ‘anonymous’ person was coming from. Obviously they have experienced a very similar family situation, but from the other side of the coin. The trouble is there are ways of expressing oneself without going straight for the jugular. What did this ‘anonymous’ expect – that the Blog author would respond by thanking them for their incredibly insightful and life changing input? Surely they must have realized that all they would get was a return volley?

For all the ‘Anonymous’ people out there, if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Reflections


‘Easter is a time for reflection and counting your blessings’

This was the opening line of a blog I chanced upon yesterday. And I realized this sentiment should definitely apply to me.

On Good Friday, two years ago, my husband, Pete, was rushed to hospital in an ambulance. An emergency surgery revealed a ruptured bowel. The cause was determined to be cancer.

We had so looked forward to that Easter. My son, his wife and my only grandchild were coming to visit. It was years since we had seen them. But, instead of a happy family time, the next few days were a blur of hospital visits.

There followed thirty weeks of chemotherapy; weekly blood tests; and endless Dr’s appointments. We lost our largest cleaning contract due to time restrictions – it was just impossible for me to service the contract on my own. Our income plummeted and the credit card balance skyrocketed.

Due to my anxiety disorder, I hadn’t driven for six years. I had never driven in Brisbane. I had never driven our current car. But suddenly I had to drive into the city to work, five-days-a-week. For three long months we were totally unsure as to what the future would hold for us. 

Those were dark and scary days.

But, two years later, Pete is now fully recovered from a second operation to restore normal bowel function. His frequent follow up medical appointments show him to be cancer free. Even his other ailments, Type 11 Diabetes and high cholesterol are now under control by medication.

Workwise, we have picked up enough work to keep our heads above water without overtaxing these poor old bodies too much.

This Easter may not be filled with exciting plans for family get togethers. But we have so much to be thankful for. There are so many others for whom the outcome of their own particular tragedy has not been so positive.

So, on reflection, this is a very happy Easter for us and we are very grateful.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disengage the Auto Pilot


‘Where you are going, Mum?’

My son’s voice snapped me back from whatever dreamland I had been visiting.

‘I’m taking you to school,’ I was about to reply. But then it struck me. I was heading for the Primary School, when my son had been at high school for nearly a full year.

Now I might have driven my son to the High School for nearly a year, but I had been driving him to the Primary School for seven times as long. For some reason, on that particular morning, a moment of inattention had me reverting to old habits – retracing patterns and paths from the past.

In the course of my life there has been a succession of people who always managed to make me feel that I was somehow inadequate. Rather than being clever enough to use this as fuel to fire me up and prove them sadly mistaken, I let it drag me down and did stupid things which only served to prove them right.

But, we all reach a stage in our lives when we have a choice as to what path we intend to follow for the rest of our days. I believed that I could break the cycle of failure and despair. While I may never have become the person that others expected me to be, I have certainly become the person that I am comfortable being.

The trouble is that I was that ‘other’ person for a large part of my life – and I’ve been this new person for a much shorter time. And sometimes I forget. Sometimes I find myself retracing old patterns and paths from the past; reverting to old habits.

There is no one in my life now who expects me to be anyone except who I am. There is no one who doesn’t see me as capable and efficient. In fact, dare I say it, there are even some who suggest I might be … talented???

But I make a mistake and immediately I am operating on Auto Pilot – beating myself up for being such an idiot; so incompetent; so careless. I take a little longer than normal to do a job and I am making excuses – must be getting old and slow; I wasn’t properly organised etc.

And my husband looks at me with bewilderment in his eyes instead of the disapproval I seem to be expecting and says

‘Okay. So you made a mistake? So what? You took a bit longer than normal? So what? I wasn’t timing you anyway.’

Thankfully, the only person who expects too much of me now is me. And that’s good, because, after all, I am the only person I can really change. I just need to learn to disengage the Auto Pilot.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Surprize


A couple of weeks ago, at one of the offices we clean, I noticed the air conditioning vents badly needed attention. Until I started to clean them, I didn’t realize just how dirty and dusty they were. I ended up with sheets of dust all over me and all over everything around me.

I then spent a considerable amount of time trying to clean it all up, moving everything I dared to move so that I could get into all the nooks and crannies. I even returned to that particular area before I left and went over everything again, hoping to get any dust that might have settled.

In spite of my best efforts I guess there was still a considerable amount of dust floating around in the air and it must have settled overnight – all over the desks and computers etc. We came in to do our next clean to find the Communications Book out on the reception desk and the office supervisor had written a scathing note.

He acknowledged that the air conditioning vent had been cleaned. However he was of the opinion that we had simply brushed the dust and dirt from the vent and left in sit on the desktops for the office staff to clean up themselves. He then went on to say that he felt our cleaning efforts were less than satisfactory and we needed to review our contract and the requirements there of.

I have to admit I was stunned by his reaction. I could definitely understand his annoyance at finding dust over his desk. But considering this was obviously something that didn’t normally happen and in fact something for which even he had a logical explanation, I thought his response was a little ‘over-the-top’.

My supervisor contacted the office supervisor and sorted it all out. The office supervisor rang me later to discuss another matter and he was perfectly nice and friendly. Still, the incident left a bad taste in my mouth, and, on each visit I was expecting to see that dreaded Communications Book left out with another scolding note.

Then, last night, it happened. There on the reception desk was the offending book and I immediately felt sick – trying to think what on earth I could have done this time to earn his disapproval?

But then I noticed something else. Sitting on the edge of the book was a collection of two foil- wrapped chocolate Easter Bunnies and two tiny Easter eggs. There was nothing written in the book, so I guess it had been left there just so that we would know the Easter eggs were meant for us – the cleaners.

I suppose the point I’m making here is that we often waste a lot of emotional energy expecting the worst. None of us can get through life without copping a ‘tongue-lashing’ from time to time. The fact is I know we are very competent cleaners. Perhaps the office supervisor was just having a bad day? Or perhaps he is one of those people who just don’t know how to address an issue without launching a personal attack?

I left a thank-you note and drew a smiley face. A Communications Book shouldn’t be all about negative things, now should it?
© Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chain Reaction


We were staying in a lovely cabin near the swimming pool in the holiday park.

Every day, for hours on end, there was a group of five, ragged-looking, dark skinned children, who would come to play in the water. They played Marco Polo, they plummeted down the slippery slide, and they played piggie-in-the-middle with a tennis ball.

The youngest of the group was a bit too small to join in most of the games, but she splashed about happily in the shallows with a tattered piece of towelling which seemed to be her favourite toy.

I was amazed at how well behaved these children were – how well they got along together. The older children kept a close eye on the little one, taking turns to come and play with her, opening the pool gate for her when she needed to visit the toilet.

On the third day a new family arrived. They had two little girls, all blonde curls and painted fingernails to match their designer bikinis. They came giggling and prancing to the pool, where they stood at the edge and surveyed the dark children with looks of absolute scorn.

One of the older girls in the pool called out to invite them to join the game, but the speaker for the blonde girls tossed her curls and replied.

‘We don’t want to play your stupid games!’

No, but it seems they had games of their own to play. First of all they focussed on the littlest girl in the group, asking her why was she talking to that smelly piece of towel and threatening to come and take it away from her. When the baby started to cry, her older sister called to the new girls to leave the little one alone. But the blonde girls called back to ask if her mother got the bathing suit she wore from the rag bag at Saint Vinnies?

There followed a volley of name calling, with the blonde girls obviously superior in the art of delivering an insult and calling very heavily on racial slurs to make their point. The oldest boy finally lost his temper and lunged at the blonde girls, sending them screaming and running back to their parents.

The parents of the blonde girls complained to the park manager, who then came and shoo-ed the dark children away, telling them to ‘give some-one else a go’. The blonde girls shrieked and splashed in the water for about ten minutes and then, after a screaming fight with each other, they both flounced off back to their cabin, leaving the pool deserted and strangely silent.

There followed a noisy altercation between the parents of the exiled children and the park manager, and, when that failed to achieve the desired results, another noisy altercation between the parents of both sets of children.

The parents of the blonde girls drew on the same brand of racial vilification used by their daughters to make their point. This incited other park residents to join in with everyone taking sides according to the colour of their skin. Eventually the manager called the Police and there were threats of eviction for several permanent residents as well as some of the tourists.

“You are an integral part of Creation. Your thoughts and actions set off far reaching chain reactions that you cannot fathom.” Cynthia Occelli at LIFE

I guess the parents of the blonde girls thought they had the right to their opinions relating to different races and they had no qualms about passing on these opinions to their daughters. I’m sure they never envisioned their daughters would then take those thoughts and turn them into actions which would totally destroy the peaceful, fun atmosphere of a coastal caravan park.

But that is how war’s start, isn’t it? Chain reactions set off by the promotion of certain ideals and beliefs.

‘Thoughts have power; thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break it by your own thinking’. ~Susan Taylor~

The trouble is, it’s not just about what your thoughts can do to you. The power and energy of your thoughts and actions extend far beyond your immediate circumstances.
©Lyn Murphy 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Keep It In-House


Today, while I was busily dusting an office, I overheard a very distressing conversation. This conversation took place between a visiting ambulance driver/paramedic and the regular office staff – and I guess I was the only one who found it distressing. Everyone else seemed to find the subject matter absolutely hilarious.

The ambulance driver was updating everyone on the terminology used within medical and rescue services. Apparently Doctors use what they call the DBI – or the Dirt Bag Index to describe some of their patients. The DBI rates people according to
1. The number of tattoos
2. The number of body piercings
3. The number of teeth missing
4. The number of days without a shower

There is also a category known as CRP – Circling Round the Plughole – to describe what they deem the dregs of humanity; the only fitting treatment of which would be to flush it down the drain.

It appears that the rescue workers also have their codes and signals and often the signals have nothing to do with the patient’s treatment, but are more to do with amusing fellow workers by communicating little in-house jokes at the expense of the patient.

Now having worked for six years in a Call Centre Environment, I am well aware of the need for employing coping mechanisms. But I also remember a training session in which the supervisor related the story of a CSA (Customer Service Advisor) who, during a phone conversation with a particularly obnoxious customer, put the person on hold and turned to her fellow workers to say

‘What a BLEEPING loser!’

Unfortunately for her, the Hold button didn’t work. The customer heard what she said and was understandably quite indignant, demanding to speak to a team leader.

“Keep it in-house!’ was our supervisors advice that day. We are all ambassadors of the industry in which we work. Yes, we need to have our release valves; ways and means of taking the pressure down a notch or two, of dealing with the stresses. Often this is going to take the form of the in-house jokes and little ‘bitch’ sessions about the people who really push our buttons.

But keep it in-house. Don’t do it in front of an open telephone line. And don’t do it during lunch break in the corner CafĂ© – because you just don’t know who might overhear. For all you know the BLEEPING loser might be sitting at the table right next to you. And don't, whatever you do, make it public knowledge by sharing it with others outside of your working environment.

See, the office staff may have laughed uproariously at the descriptions of codes and signals used by the ambulance drivers and rescue workers. But, what if one of them was involved in an accident this afternoon on the way home from work? Would they find it so funny if those codes and signals were being applied to them? Would this inspire them to feel a sense of confidence in the people who had been dispatched to cut them out of their crumpled vehicle and transport them to hospital?

Now of course there are many caring professionals out there who really do see their patients as human beings in need of care and attention. But it’s hard not to let my attitude be coloured by what I heard today. Just as the customer in the Case of the Faulty Hold button would have left that telephone encounter with an uncomplimentary opinion of our company.

Have your little jokes and your team gripes, by all means, but please, for the sake of the people to whom you are providing a service, keep your conduct professional.

©Lyn Murphy 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Now That Makes Sense!


‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.’

The above quote (origin unknown) came as part of an email I received this morning and it really spoke to me.

While it would be wonderful if we could simply change everything about our lives that causes us grief and concern, in truth there are many things we just have to learn live with. And how else can we do that unless we are able to change the way we think about those things?

I’m what you might call a ‘sensitive’ person. In other words I tend to take things personally and be easily hurt.

Back in my early days as a cleaner I found it very difficult to cope with those inevitable complaints and criticisms. When some one complained, I took it very hard. I would seesaw between anger and depression. How dare they infer that I wasn’t doing my job properly? What if I lose my job now? Oh what a sorry specimen I must be – that I can’t even manage to do the most menial of jobs to a satisfactory standard?

But, eventually I learned that some things never change. No matter how hard you work, no matter how hard you try, there will always be people whom you simply cannot please. And ‘clean’ is a concept very open to personal interpretation.

People often expect way too much of us humble cleaners anyhow. They ask you to mop a floor and expect it to come up as though it had been stripped and resealed. They expect a white-glove clean for a whisk-with-a-feather-duster price.

So if I intended to continue as a cleaner, then I would have to learn to deal with complaints and criticisms or I was going to spend the rest of my days in this turmoil of depression.

Then a friend pointed out to me that cleaning is my job – it is not who I am and it is not all there is to my life. A complaint or criticism about anything I do is, after all, one person’s opinion and not necessarily the truth. That same friend advised that I should always listen to what is said to me; take what I feel is useful and constructive, and throw the rest in the garbage.

Am I now totally unaffected by criticisms and complaints? Oh, far from it. But at least I have learned to differentiate between a criticism of my work and a reflection of my worth as a person.

©Lyn Murphy 2011