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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

Shades of Blues; Into a Fractured Mind Book Release

When tragedy happens unexpectedly, it changes everything.

 

Shades of Blues Paperback on Amazon

 

Shades of Blues; Into a Fractured Mind by Vicki Pugliese is available NOW on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle eBook Formats.  Available soon on Kobo.

Set in rural Titusville, PA – SHADES OF BLUES; Into a Fractured Mind is a powerful and compelling tragic story filled with grace and redemption. Feel free to share! Be the first to own your copy.

You Never Had a Choice

I didn’t realize my worth,
That I’m precious as any gem.
So I didn’t expect to be valued,
And I wasn’t offended by him.

Instead I believed – deep inside,
What he said could not be lies.
I just wanted to find love,
So I took everything in stride.

And when he left, I thought to myself
Surely this is what I deserved,
It must have been all my fault.
I just didn’t know my worth.

So I believed the final lie,
And now I hated me.

 

But there was you and suddenly,
I couldn’t just walk away.
I wanted to forget it all
But you tied my past to today.

And I believed all of the lies,
No soul, and there’s no pain.
This is my life and my choice.
Putting me first in vain.

I couldn’t see that I was tied,
To how I valued you,
The way that I see all life,
So my past is my future too.

And because I hated me,
I had to hate you too.

 

I knew they were lies,
Deep inside somewhere.
The biggest of them was,
That I wouldn’t care.

My life would move on,
I could put you behind,
A much brighter future,
I was so sure I’d find.

But stripping you of your value,
Now I would never find mine,
I never fixed the problem,
It was all just a matter of time.

And because I hated you,
Now forever I’ll hate me.

 

I stole your voice,
I dismissed your worth.
I made a choice,
I denied your birth.

My smile is just a mask,
And the world may never see
The biggest lie I hide,
Is just how much I hate me.

I wish I’d know my value,
That someone would see me.
And love me just the way I am,
Instead of how I should be.

You never had a choice,
Dear God, please forgive me.

By Vicki L. Pugliese

I made the other choice, for which I’ll always be grateful, but I believe perhaps I understand. I hope you find your value, and you find it in our Lord. If this is not your story, and you can’t identify; I hope you will be gentle to those who cry inside.

I’ll Stand Beside You

Bullies come in all sizes. I grew up in a great small town, but it had a clique system and bullies. Those who were different or had lower self-esteem seemed to end up more frequent targets, in my opinion. I grew up when diversity wasn’t something that was relished or embraced. I had friends that were wounded, deeply, by unkind actions and words – wounds that have lasted into their adulthood. Bullying is not new.

I can place myself on the list of those who have experienced bullying; an unkind nickname, comments meant to injure, I’ve been picked last for dodge ball, and physical threats. I experienced the same, not only as a child, but in most places that I have worked, from the criminal to a minor slight. I am no stranger to bullying.

Standing up to bullies is not an uncommon stance. I have been a proponent myself. Although, when I was bullied, that was not how I responded. Instead I shutdown and withdrew. This is the behavior that you would think is the most damaging to someone’s soul, but it is not. The most damaging behavior, in my opinion, is when you find yourself on the other side. When you know how it feels to be bullied but for whatever reason, you find that you yourself are the one being dismissive or unkind to someone who just wants a friend or to be understood.

As a kid, one of my dear friends was frequently bullied by one of the kids who was more popular, more self-assured and more aggressive. What this bully didn’t have was more friends. When our little group decided that our friend had had enough and we were going to stand up to this bully together, we crossed that line. We became the aggressors and we confronted this bully publicly and in force. She had no option but to back down. All she could do was retreat. As a kid, we reveled in our victory. We congratulated each other in our success. We believed in our loyalty. But were we right?

It’s such a gray area, isn’t it? We all hate bullies. We love movies where the underdog standups up to his bully. We love the scene that I lived as a kid in support of my friend. But is that right? How did the bully feel – whether she deserved it or not? Didn’t we commit the same offense as her?

I hate new places of employment. I hate feeling like I don’t belong until I create friendships – that waiting to be picked for a team feeling. Those first weeks where I’m unsure and self-conscious, especially if I’m also struggling to feel competent, they are difficult for me. I’m often not fond of people who make transitions like that difficult.

Nonetheless, I can’t say I have never made someone else’s transition difficult. I have made snap judgements about new coworkers, and not treated them warmly, while they were struggling to fit in. I have withheld my friendship, for sometimes valid reasons. Still, I have committed the offense I so dislike. Where do I draw the line? I can’t throw the first stone.

Recently an old friend told me of the bullying that he experienced as a kid. We were decent enough friends as kids, yet I had no idea he was ever bullied. When he first told me, I was angry at my little town for being so unkind. He deserved better. He deserved to know that he is valuable the way he is, and that people loved and accepted him. He deserved friends who stood up for him as well, and to feel that he didn’t have to fight his battle alone. I wish he had believed in our little group enough that things could have been different for him. I’m not sure they would have – it was a different time.

I hate bullying but I am concerned about how easy it is to become the bully in return. How easy it is to hold someone else to a standard I don’t hold myself to. I want my own way, as much as the next guy, but I need to find ways that use compromise and consideration of others while protecting my boundaries. I need to respect the differences of others better. We all need someone in our corner, that group that says, “I’ll stand beside you.” I need to be in more people’s group.

Determining where the boundary is between self-care and our own bullying in return, may be the most difficult line to find, and one I find most damaging to my soul.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

#writerslife

IMG_4216.JPGYou write a book and you sit back and think, “I did it!” You go through the process of abusing friends and family asking them to read your new baby. You are so proud! Meanwhile you go back and proof read it again, even though you have already proof read it several times, and again you find more mistakes or places it feels “choppy” – the kiss of death for a book. Some of your friends and family plow through your little mess, or more likely, your huge mess because you haven’t learned to be succinct in your writing yet. You find an editor and now… now you are serious.
The first time you open your darling with show track changes on your heart stops for just a second. Then you remind yourself, you want your book to be the best it can be. You weed through the edits, accepting most of them but you put your foot down over a few lines. Obviously your editor is a little inexperienced because that line is AWESOME! You leave it. The editing process takes longer than writing your book did.
You realize your baby is too long, and you have since done a little research. You know you need to get that word count down by 20,000 words. Your research says you should get it down by 60,000 words but you know your book is special, so you modify that research to meet your unique situation. You send your new shorter book back to your editor and the new editing process takes longer than the first because your editor has a real job, or has taken on more editing jobs and it’s no longer your turn. You are the epitome of patience. Finally, your new work of art returns.
You have done more research while you were waiting and realize you should have beta readers and critique partners, which sounds a lot like a beta reader to you. You have now spent so much time and effort on this book that self-publishing seems beneath you. Your friends and family have been very positive, or at least what you heard was positive. Therefore, an agent will surely pick up your work immediately.
You dream of your baby being on a shelf in Barnes and Nobles, front and center, since you’re a local author.
You purchase Writer’s Digest 20xx and begin to skim through it and notice that they strongly encourage you to get a Twitter account, so of course you do. You follow the agent that is specified as a great place to start in the book and the next thing you know you are following dozens of agents, publishers, other authors, editors and random people trying to sell you things to help you in your writing career or agent search.
You figure out you need to write a Query and a Synopsis, and you give it the old college try. You abuse your editor and ask for a couple of free pages of editing. If she’s nice or new, she will. You research the agents you want to query first while you wait. Two pages take two weeks but when they come back, you are excited because now the real fun begins.
You send out twenty queries to the agents you believe are the best match, though you aren’t sure if your genre designation is correct or your age category for that matter. A couple of weeks go by and your get some very polite no thank yous. You start suspecting your genre because it couldn’t be your query or first pages.
Meanwhile you find a beta reader or four and a couple of them actually finish your book, but a couple do not. You start to worry about your first pages, and possibly pacing. The feedback is all very positive still.
You’re getting good at Twitter and have a few people you like to banter with. You win a query review in a Twitter contest and then a second person offers to review your query. Their advice conflicts.
Time passes and you start your sequel. You get a little more input and start suspecting your first pages and your pacing. You hire someone new to do a manuscript review and she confirms your suspicions.
You do your first major manuscript rewrite. You are out of money now. You abuse more friends and family and delve into the coworker pool of beta readers. You are no longer sure you are qualified to write anything. You still haven’t finished your sequel but you start another idea for a book and you say you #amwriting on Twitter, so you still believe it’s true.
All of your original 20 queries are either a no by default for no answer or a very polite no, now. You are afraid to send out new queries until you feel better about the quality of your book. Your family refuses to read the latest revisions.
You join an author’s Facebook group and they ask you to read an excerpt from your work in progress. This is your manuscript but you have down-graded it as insecurities take hold. You get some great ideas from the group and you rework the section they reviewed, wishing they had reviewed the entire work in progress.
#PitchWars2017 begins and you enter to try to win a “Mentor”. You read the Mentor’s wish lists and none of them match perfectly, so you pick those that you think are your kind of people. You ignore the one or two things they are NOT looking for that match your book, hoping the parts that match override those details. You are really wondering about your genre now.
You start thinking you should have self-published or you should take up painting.
So You Think You Can Dance starts up for the summer and you put off doing anything while you watch the show. You may get back to your book or you may take the summer off, you haven’t decided yet. The Walking Dead is coming too…

#writerslife

By Vicki L. Pugliese

If I had only known…

I wish I would have known while my dad was alive. I only traveled home about yearly, or bi-yearly. I only called about monthly, sometimes longer. Every time I would go to his house, he would invite me into the living room and ask me to catch him up on what was going on. My parents made me nervous. I felt like I never shut up around them. I felt like no one could get a word in edgewise. I was instantly tossed back in time, just a kid struggling for attention. I wasn’t a neglected child but there were six of us, and I was not the golden child – ever.

Still, every time I called, every time I visited, dad would focus on me, and ask about the details of my life.  How was my job, my kids, and my husband? What did we do for fun? He would get me started and a year’s, or a month’s worth of data would vomit out of my brain. I even asked my husband to give me a subtle nudge if I was talking too much. I don’t talk that much at home.  Oh, I’m not completely silent, but I don’t go on and on – most of the time. When I was around my parents, I couldn’t seem to stop myself.

I worried that they thought less of me because I couldn’t shut up. I tried to ask about their lives too, but they always turned the focus back on me. I never seemed to know much about their lives. I worried it was my fault. I wish I would have known. I would have called more.

My kids are grown now, with lives of their own. Still connected to mine, but separate. It’s wonderful when we get together and just talk about what’s going on in their lives. I want to know about their jobs, their friends, their kids, and spouses. I want to know about their dreams, even if they never come true. I want to know about their struggles and heartaches. Everyone has them. I don’t think less of them for having them too. I cherish the fun we have in group texts, and out for pizza, or playing cards. I cherish family gatherings. Mostly I love hearing about their lives, even the mundane things, because I’m not there, and it makes me feel connected. I wish I would have known.

You grow apart too easily. Life slips by too fast. There are too many chores, and not enough free time. There are too many good choices, and too much life to live. I want to hear about it all. They could talk a mile a minute – I wouldn’t care. They could tell me the same story two and three times over; I like hearing their voice. I like being with them.

To those of you out there who still have your parents, call them, write them, text them, keep in touch. Never feel like you talk too much. Stay connected. I say this knowing I need to call my mom, and my step mom. I need to catch up. I say this, missing being able to call my dad. I wish I had known. We weren’t super close but we weren’t estranged either. I was blessed. I am blessed with family connections that will always be there, even after a month or two, or a year. We get together and pick right up where we left off. Catch me up. Tell me your stories. I want to hear.

You could never talk too much. I wish I would have known.

Tell Me Your Story

I want to hear your stories.
I want to hear about that time.
Tell the one that made you laugh,
The one with your partner in crime.

Tell me how you took the train,
Across these great big states.
Tell the one about Uncle Horace,
And the cows getting through the gates.

I want to hear about it all,
To live a thousand lives.
To meet one hundred characters,
Get on memory lane and drive.

I want to hear your stories,
I’m waiting patiently.
You pick the topic, I’m all ears.
Oh won’t you please tell me…

By Vicki L. Pugliese

CEO of OurHome.Inc

Young man do you have big dreams of being the next Steve Jobs, Mark Zukerberg or Bill Gates?  Do you dream of being CEO or captain of industry or even a local manager at your own firm?  Leadership skills are often thought to be natural traits, one God wrote in the very fabric of the design of natural leaders.  Perhaps those potential leaders  naturally utilized  those God given talents.  Possibly those natural leaders took advantage of a training ground provided by God and learned to hone their leadership skills like any other skill you might learn instead.  Possibly you have been provided this same training ground on which you can learn leadership skills but you have not taken advantage of this supportive atmosphere.  Perhaps God actually expects you to step up and lead this little band of people that look just like you.  He expects nothing less than your best everyday.  Generations of people count on your abilities and performance actually!

Now if He gave you this training opportunity, He gave you a “second in command” who gives you a lot of input.  Are you wisely taking this input into consideration and utilizing the gift that is your second in command to the best of your ability, or are you shutting down this gift?  You took vows, you know her well.  Are you ensuring that your second in command is fully fed spiritually, nurtured and loved by you so that she is capable of passing on those qualities to the rest of your company, your children?  Are you praying daily for your second in command so that she is built up to fight any battle that comes her way?  You know there will be germs, hormones, trials and everyday things.  She needs all that support to keep her safe and spiritually filled.  She needs that support to be ready to help you lead that family of yours.

Many young men come home and have a need to talk about their day.  They need to unpack the events.  They go to work all day.   Jobs can be frustrating.  They just want to come home, have a moment or two to themselves and eat dinner.  They like to unpack their day and then after dinner just go and play a game on their cell phone or computer and let their attention disappear into the game.  They like to unwind that way.

They fail to see that their second in command who has been stuck at home alone with their children with little or no adult interaction also needs to unpack her day.  She spent her day prepping the meal, doing laundry, picking up after the kids for the hundredth time, assisting with homework, breaking up fights and helping with melt downs.  She also had a need to unload her day.  That young man may fail to see she needs to be filled up emotionally and spiritually.  He may miss signs that she is starting to run on empty and is in desperate need of prayer and his spiritual leadership.

God gave him this wonderful practice company, practice ground if you will, for him to learn excellent people skills, and leadership skills, all in an environment where everyone wants him to succeed! The problem is that the company of home wants him to succeed at leadership and not in any way shape or form at selfishness, that’s where it gets a little stickier.

God gave man a company of tiny people to manage.  Man just has to look up from his phone.  He has to remember that God gave him that responsibility but that he also chose them and to that end he should begin on his knees. He should remember that his wife and children have that same need for validation, connection, intimacy and love that he does.  Their needs being met are his responsibility even if he needs to delegate some of it. He, as their tiny tribal leader needs to monitor that this is completed, especially for his wife.

His family is a true practice ground.  He loves them perhaps more than he loves himself. They will be his legacy and a testimony to the skills he acquired.  They will also be more patient than any corporation ever would as he learns and fine tunes his skills.

It’s up to him to view it as a leadership opportunity and directive from God. A chance to prove to God he is grateful for the blessings that God gave him when God gave him his beautiful family.

Will he start each day on his knees?  Will you?  Will he put his phone down or put away other distractions ?  Will you?  Turn your TVs off and plug back into your family!  Make sure your second in command’s needs are met.  Make sure her spiritual cup is filled because those children feel like a spiritual battle some days!  Make sure she is fully ready to support you in your leadership mission and goals.  Use the gift of a second in command wisely! Listen to her, God may be speaking through her.  The best leaders work as a team.

Put your pride away, it has sharp edges and you’ll poke someone’s eye out.  Use every resource you have and train every day!    Use this great opportunity given to you by the great provider!  Learn to be the best leader you can be.  Soon someone outside the home will notice your skills, how could they not?!  There are so few truly good leaders out there.

Be a great leader.  The one God designed you to be.  Then go do something really awesome!

 

by Vicki L. Pugliese

 

media by Elizabeth Balch
http://www.elizabethbalch.com

People, The new Big Business exhaust

Big Business exhaust, in terms of people, appears to be on a dramatic rise, in my opinion. That thing that factories use to do; taking the finest resources, changing them, stripping from them whatever the factory determined was valuable, and then spewing out the waste.  That is what Big Business is doing to its “Human Resources” today.  The problem is, once they have over used or devalued a human being, broken down a person’s spirit until this particular business or team no longer finds this specific person useful, they then label this person as useless or defective.  This is often so far from the truth it doesn’t even resemble the truth.  It’s just that team’s or company’s pride and puffery.

Layoffs have occurred for years and people, even good people would get cut. Teams would get eliminated and excellent workers would find themselves pounding the pavement looking for employment.  They would find work, occasionally they would end up in a job that was a better match because they had not been as good a fit in their previous job.  Perhaps they had been reluctant to leave and look elsewhere before the layoff.  Looking for new employment can be a scary endeavor.  Some people find even looking for new employment disloyal.  This is a good quality in an employee!

Turn the clock to current times, post housing bubble, post flooding the market with work immigration visas, post world wide web infrastructure, outsourcing and off shoring, and the job market is very small. Suddenly a reality that actually always was true is now right up in your face. We are all replaceable, like removing a branch that was sticking straight up out of a pond.  The water fills back in immediately, instantly, as if the branch never existed.  There may be ripples but overall there will be no difference.  We should not think too highly of ourselves, because we are like that branch, all of us!  It may take hiring someone new, or even two new people.  Perhaps someone who never would have stepped up while a rock star employee existed will finally find the courage to make their move.  Make no mistake, you are not different.  Your skills are not unique.  Someone out there will learn them.  It may be painful for a season but like a ripple, you will be gone.  Pride has sharp edges.  Big Business is an organism and it will move on without you.

At one point in my life Big Business invested in their people. They ensured they were trained and built good teams.  They had teams of professionals, “human resources managers” to work through problems.  These individuals were not primarily used to hire and fire people as they are in many businesses today.  Once you were hired, if you ended up a square peg, they worked to find a square hole for you.  They didn’t want human exhaust. They invested in people and their well being.  This has not completely gone away.  In some cases unions have preserved this.  In some cases smaller businesses work themselves to preserve this way of life.  But by in large, the tides have changed.

In today’s society if you aren’t a good fit, not only will we kick you to the curb, but we will label you as a bad fit causing it to be more difficult for you to find employment next time.  Never for a second thinking possibly, you might be a great match for a different business or another team.  Never for a second do we stop and think that our team might be unique in some manner, or have unique methods or processes, or even be difficult to get along with.

This human exhaust process is creating a workplace PTSD nightmare. Employees who at one point were excellent workers, who ended up in a job that didn’t match their best skills, or on a team with a person who lacked good leadership skills are being crushed by Big Business in droves.  Employees, who took a chance on a team or a project that was later cut, are being caught in this exhaust system as well.  They took a risk and then found themselves in a job that wasn’t a match.  Some of them go on to find a safe workplace environment and bounce back.  Then there are others who hit a second or third mismatch and their workplace PTSD spirals out of control.  The market is tighter now.  The search is harder.  Now they have multiple mismatches to either hide on their resume or explain in an interview.  The process gets harder and harder.  They could have years of successful service to a single employer previously but that won’t matter in the interview.  The recent bouncing around will look suspicious.  No one will take the time to bring the resource back to health.  It’s just business to Big Business.  It’s just a simple Big Business by product at this point.  A person is now a by product!

Who picks up that tab? We do!  The American people!  Health care costs, welfare and services costs, or worse yet, if they get desperate enough, crime costs!  It all stems from a lack of concern.  It all stems from an attitude that it can’t happen to me!  But it could happen to you!  The wrong boss and the right situation and we are all replaceable.  You say you are stronger than that, but for how long?  How many rejections that lack merit will it take?  What if there was no merit to why you were laid off in the first place?  Perhaps your boss had a best friend that wanted your job, so your boss piled the work onto your plate.  You complain but your boss manages to keep your workload too high and then sites that your quality is slipping.  Layoffs roll around and your record shows that your quality is slipping and out you go.  Like a stick in the water, we are all replaceable.  Months later your boss is out on her can too.  We are all replaceable.  Pride has sharp edges.

The issue is, do you care that Big Business is creating human exhaust? That Big Business sometimes promotes people who lack leadership skills.  Bosses who believe that people are resources to be managed and not persons to be lead.  They are demoralizing and crushing good workers in droves.  Do you care that these workers who were contributing members of society are now crumbling?  They are becoming a drain instead?  Do you care?  Or are you just going to watch it happen to your next coworker, leader, subordinate?  Could an investment into the resources that are the most precious in this country have made a difference?  Perhaps a different team or a different job or some assistance working through a conflict would set this employee back to their previous rock star status.  Wouldn’t that be worth the effort?  Is it really that easy to give up?  Maybe they just needed to be appreciated.

That Big Business resource exhaust group with workplace PTSD are growing in numbers. What is scarier is they are growing in dependence on our countries services.  They are getting angrier and Big Business has made them unstable!  We need to care.  We need to invest in the only resource that ever mattered, the human resource.  Selfishness and narcissism will ruin our country as it has all other great nations of the past.  Big Business has broken free from country boundaries, in case that missed your notice.  It’s eating up people for lunch!  When it does that in your country, then your country pays to pick up the pieces.

It’s time to start seeing Big Business for what it is. It’s time to care about the kind of exhaust it puts out.  We reined in factories in the last century.  We can rein in Big Business in this one.  We just have to care.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

The Next Shiny Thing

IMG_2044Living without focus or hyper focusing on one thing until I’m tired, bored or burned out, while ignoring all other aspects of my life seems to be a pattern for me. You may have missed me, or perhaps you hadn’t noticed that I ignored you recently. Sorry that I ignored you. I was focused on writing a book, one that is completed now and fully edited. I sent out my first volley of queries for it this morning.
Before I hyper focused on writing, I was working toward my Distinguished Toastmaster’s M … – I don’t even know what the M stands for. I dove into that goal and rocked out all of my advanced speeches and my leadership requirements that were not time bound in about a year. I got burned out on Toastmasters. I struggled to attend at all. Then I gave another speech, participated in a contest actually – and I was nervous! All those speeches that I gave building on each other, strengthening that public speaking muscle until it was strong and chiseled. I could throw together a speech in a day and still polish it up to a point where I was satisfied. I have high standards for myself. Yet, I was nervous. I hadn’t been nervous, really nervous, in so long that I can’t even put my finger on it. Somewhere in my first set of ten speeches, I’d guess.
I managed to pull off that speech and then I practiced again, for an audience of one, at work. My nerves receding already. I gave the speech again in preparation for the next level of competition and my nerves were manageable again. The muscles just needed to be used again. I had nearly tossed aside that goal of DTM. I’m usually pretty focused until the last mile or so.
Before Toastmasters, we trained to run a half marathon. I was diligent in my process that Disney put out for those who are new runners that want to complete a half marathon. I built up my long run, week after week. We ran in 10Ks, and split a half marathon all to push ourselves to complete that goal. I got just a little behind on the schedule and had only ever ran 12 miles prior to the actual event. That last mile and a half was the worst.
That darn timer lady was there over and over again as a silent goal. Once she reminded those of us running just behind her, that if we weren’t in front of her at the mile marker, Disney picks us up. That’s the rules. I’m a slow runner but a long line at the bathrooms put me with her for the last three miles. I pushed thru at twelve and put some distance between us hoping that would make it easier. The last mile and a half was brutal.
I injured myself and haven’t really run well since, my muscles losing all that I had gained, so I threw my focus into Toastmasters, then writing.
What will I take on next? Why am I driven to focus and achieve something, anything, one more thing? I didn’t use to be like this. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been one to lose interest in things easily, my whole life – that’s a “functions as designed” thing.

It was really an unpleasant trait as a child and in the Navy. Detail oriented people don’t understand that there are those of us who aren’t actually lazy or malicious, we just miss details, even with check lists. It took me a long time to love that part of myself.
I have other talents that detail oriented people do not possess. I just have to remember to use my “powers” for good and not evil. Evil is shinier and catches my attention, my sense of humor. It gets me in trouble a lot. Still, I have learned to love that part of me.
Nonetheless living in this hyper focus and unbalanced life is taking its toll. I have to find a love for myself even if I don’t live up to my inner standards, even if I don’t finish my goal, even if I gain back all that weight. I’m still worthy of love. No one else seems to be telling me I’m not, just that inner me, that voice that pushes me to improve.
Somewhere along the way I became my enemy. Christ asks us to love our enemies. I need to include myself – my imperfect self. God’s not done with me yet … as the song goes. If you miss me, if I disappear again, it’ll be something else shiny. Perhaps the next time, though, I won’t apologize because that’s just how I’m hard wired and I learned to stop questioning God’s ways.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

110%: Too Narrow a View?

“I need you to give 110%!”  I just cringe when I hear that.  Even people who are not good at math have most likely been told that you can’t have more than 100%.  Percent makes it “of the whole”.  You can’t have more than a whole pie of a pie.  You can however have too narrow a view.  Perhaps you are really only considering a slice of the pie.  If you give 110% effort at work, or at a sport, what was the cost to the other pieces of your pie?  Did you give less at home, perhaps to a spouse or your children?  That will cost you in the health of your relationship slice of pie.  Did you negate your need for sleep or exercise?  Those things will eventually cost you in your health slice of pie.  Burnout is right around the corner if you ignore those.  Did you skip picking up, doing the dishes, or laundry, or other household functions?  Those will eventually catch up with you, so your ability to give 110% to whatever you are focusing on, is time limited.  Did you cut out your quiet time with God or your spirituality as a whole?  That will affect… well pretty much everything else in your life.  Somehow it’s usually the first thing we cut out, isn’t it?  Yet it’s kind of the crust to our pie. It’s what everything is built upon.

You could have been thinking about the other valid way to get 110%, though that is still an incorrect way of describing your level of effort.  You could be comparing your effort to an expectation level that is actually too low.  Did you compare your full effort to someone else’s full effort and determine you gave significantly more than they did?  The way that they slice their pie does not change how you sliced yours.  Did you expect to be able to do less and surprise yourself?  Therefore you feel like your effort was more than your ability to give?  I’m guessing you see the issue with the this immediately.  Your ability to do more than you thought you could, is either that you underestimated your time and talents, or you took from a different slice of your pie to be able to focus more fully on the task requiring your effort, thus putting it back into our “too narrow a view” idea.

Looking more closely at the estimation of our ability, that we often compare our actual effort against, can easily go both ways.  On some occasions we are proud of our selves for achieving more than we thought possible.  It was obviously possible, so our theory that it wasn’t was incorrect.  Nonetheless, we also berate ourselves when we don’t complete our self-assigned lists, or complete them to a lower standard than self-assigned as a perfect score.  My supposition is that often the second one is another piece of the pie catching up with us.  It needed our attention previously, but we stole from that piece of the pie temporarily, and now the piper needs to be paid.  Frequently the piper that shows up is the ones we can’t ignore such as poor health or need for rest.

The Bible gives us a great example where God clearly expects us to get enough rest and take care of our own needs in the story of Elijah.  Elijah had just killed all of those prophets of Baal.  He had been on the mountain top in his career, and here comes Jezebel and she’s out for blood.  She wants Elijah dead, and she’s the queen.  Being hated by those in charge, even feeling like you are disliked, is completely draining.  Elijah ran away and hid.  Good plan! I think.  God sends an angel and tells him to get up and eat, and then go rest.  A second time God sent an angel to instruct him to eat and rest.  Finally God tells him that he really needs to eat because the journey is too far.  This is where most of us think the story starts.  This is where Elijah listens for the Lord but the Lord is not in the wind, or the earthquake, but in the gentle whisper.  Elijah had to really be listening to hear him.

I often fail here because I was too busy being a storm of my own to stop and listen.  I’m also a regular steal-er from the health and rest pies, when I’m completing a different task.  It always catches up to me and then I berate myself for not meeting my own standards.

What’s your point already?  Right!

My point is we need that balanced life.  God designed us to need a balanced life.  He then made sure to give us examples in his word where He shows that He values our need to balance our lives.  We innately know that we need a balanced life, that’s not news to us.  But our need to take pride in our effort is the root of the problem.  We get unbalanced when we try to give 110%.  When we stretch ourselves in one area of our life and neglect another, we eventually pay the price.  Sometimes there can be long term consequences such as divorce or estrangement, or long term health issues that can not be resolved or can’t be resolved quickly.

I believe this pride issue, that gets us out of wack, starts with our thought process.  That need to be proud of ourselves or gain the approval of others by giving more than expected is the catalyst.  That desire to overachieve in one area of our life, without looking at the whole pie, is the first harmful action.  Comparing your slice of pie to how someone else slices their pie, on the other hand, only breeds apathy and disdain.  It is even less healthy.  Both are a battle in our minds.  Changing our thoughts to be kinder to ourselves and others is at least part of the answer.  Stopping the internal slave driver, who is fine with you skipping your exercise routine, but forces you to stay late at work.  Stopping that internal comparison to others which keeps you driven to be the best you can be, until the other parts of your pie come crashing in around you, never works out the way we want.  Instead of expecting 110% from yourself, or that you must always get an A, do your best without stealing from the rest of your pie.  Take the whole whole of your life into consideration.

You can’t sleep when you’re dead.  You need to do it now and you need to stop beating yourself up for needing to do it now.  You can’t have the best relationship with your friends and family if you neglect them now, not without taking from another slice of pie to restore it later.  So next time you feel the need to give 110%, acknowledge where you are stealing from.  Acknowledge that you are cutting into another needed piece of your life.  If you are honest with yourself about that and you choose to do that for a season, then give more.  Otherwise look at the whole whole and stop expecting someone else to divide their pie the way you do.  Then most importantly, start with your crust.  Start by listening to God.  Spending time with Him and in His word.  Look at your pie the way He does.  He’s the recipe holder after all.  Who else knows how to make your pie the best it can be?

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

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