We accept the love we think we deserve

I just watched the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower. The main character a troubled, sensitive teenage boy asks his English teacher why people stay in relationships with people that treat them badly. The teacher replies “People accept the love they think they deserve.” How true is that.

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Soulmates

I quite like parts of this post.

I’m not religious so I skipped the references to God and I found some things to think about.

‘We love to hear of people who “just can’t help who they love,” or people who “fall in love,” or “find the one person meant for them.” But what happens to these people when the unstoppable and uncontrollable force that prompted them to start loving, lets them stop loving, or love someone else? ‘

‘You could have a great marriage with any number of compatible people. There is no ONE PERSON for you. But once you marry someone, that person becomes your one person.’

‘My marriage is not based on a set of choices over which I had no control. It is based on a daily choice to love this man, this husband that I chose out of many people that I could have chosen to love (in theory, don’t imagine that many others were lined up and knocking at the door). He is not some illusive soul mate, not some divine fullfulment, not some perfect step on the rigorously laid out but of so secret “Plan for My Life.”’

She’s said some things I’ve felt but never been able to put into words. Very nice.

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Having ‘that talk’ with someone always sucks

Being a manager is not something that I have any natural ability for. I’m more of the doer, follower type. And I became a manger probably the only way I possibly could. I started in my current position as the first and only IT person at my company. It was a fast growing company with no IT infrastructure and me a programmer hired for the company’s first full-time IT person. A year later they let me hire help. Suddenly I was a manager with no previous experience. I pretended I knew what I was doing. I did what I always do when I have a problem. I turned to books. I read the One Minute Manager books. I read books for new managers and books for former Indians who are now Chiefs. I read books for women managers which tried to teach you how to think like a man or use your strengths as a woman in your new manager role or how to not be a bitch. I read them all and took what I could use from each and somehow managed to not get fired.

I made plenty of mistakes but I learned to listen to my employees, really listen and provide feedback. I learned to be a better communicator, to tell people things I previously had assumed they would just know. I learned to allow my people to do their jobs instead of taking over tasks. I learned to provide feedback on the things they were doing wrong as well as the things they were doing right. I learned to ask questions and lead my people to their own solutions instead of providing all the answers. I learned to reach out to HR when I had a problem with an employee that I didn’t know how to handle. I learned that HR is not always right. I learned that it was my job to provide the resources to my people so they can do their jobs. I learned that every person is different and I have to figure out what works for each individual. I learned to recognize under performers and rock stars. I’ve learned that rock stars make mistakes and need leadership and oversight also. I’ve learned that its my job to make sure that my employees succeed.

I’ve also learned that telling an employee they don’t meet the standards set for their job sucks. Providing negative feedback with the hope of improving the employee is much more palatable than providing negative feedback when you’ve made up your mind that the person just is not going to work out. If you have expectations that the employee can improve and will eventually take the criticism and rise to the occasion its a conversation that is easier to have. If you want to keep the employee there have to be some good things to talk about too. I’ve learned from a wise man that making your simple statement about what is wrong then being completely silent is usually a good approach. Most people can’t tolerate silence. It makes them uncomfortable. They will start talking and maybe telling you things they weren’t planning to just because they feel the need to fill the silence and the pressure to say something about the situation. Let them talk. Avoid trying to make them feel comfortable by filling in silences with your own voice. You’ll probably gain some insight.

However, if you’ve made up your mind that you have an employee that is never going to mesh with the group or get the work done the conversation is different. There is no hope to hold out to the employee. I’ve learned that honesty is the best tactic for handling an employee that I am planning to replace. After a few conversations about mistakes, performance or attitude most people start to get the picture. And if they aren’t blindsided its kinder. Its not fair to let someone think they are doing fine and then call them into your office and let them go. Generally after a few of these conversations the braver soul will ask ‘Should I be looking for another job?’ The simple answer is Yes. Problem solved. You can now let them think about the situation and then have a frank conversation and try to set a timeline. I’ve had people just start rambling and admit that the job is not for them, they can’t handle it and are very unhappy. And depending on the rules where you work this might turn into a win-win situation. The unhappy employee gets unemployment and you get to replace them with a clean conscious. PinkslipFotolia_srvon_11251652_Subscript_6397

Having ‘that talk’ with someone always sucks. Nobody wants to tell someone they suck at their job. But if you’ve been providing feedback all along it should not come as a shock. And if you are honest with people they respect you for it and they walk away feeling like they’ve been fairly treated. Most people can recognize when they aren’t doing a good job. Most people are not happy in a position that they feel they cannot handle. Some honest feedback from a manager helps them to make a change and gets the right person in the job.

Being a manager is a completely different skill set than what I started this job with 9 years ago. But thanks to some good leadership from my superiors I think I’m finally getting the hang of this. If you are struggling with some management issues look around your company and see who seems to be respected by their employees, who gets things done? Then approach that person for advice. Most people will be flattered and happy to provide their input.

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Phishing for phones

I’ve been trying to sell my Samsung S3 on eBay since I now have a company phone (an S4 Yay!). The first time I listed it the high bidder said that they ‘bid on accident’. So I re-listed it. Nobody bid on it the second time but I had a guy contact me after the auction was over saying he wanted to bid but missed the deadline. Determined to sell this thing before its worthless I listed it a third time for $50 less. There was a lot of interest in it and I was pleased yesterday when it sold for $300.

Immediately after the auction I get a message from the high-bidder via eBay messaging saying they had a few questions for me and could I send them my phone number. They helpfully provided their email address and mailing address in Indiana in the eBay message. I simply send them the invoice via the normal eBay channels. They send me another message via eBay asking me how much they owed and that they needed my phone number to confirm in Paypal that they were paying the correct person. I just send them the invoice again. Then in the middle of the night another plea for my phone number and the amount that they owe.

So this morning I make a mistake. Thinking this is someone’s Grandpa that doesn’t know how to use eBay I go to my copy of the invoice in my email and forward it to the email address they provided stating just click on this button and send me money via Paypal. Now they have my email address. Almost immediately I get an email from Paypal stating this person has sent me a payment but the money will not be in my Paypal account until I provide them a tracking number for the package. In the message it states that I’m to send the package to a Nigerian address and they are paying me an extra $100 for this change in shipping. Then I get a message on eBay from the customer telling me a story about their boss being in Nigeria and would I please overnight this phone to the boss there. Irritated and in a rush to get to work I login to eBay and message the person saying ‘Sorry I’m not sending this phone to Nigeria.’

I get a couple more emails while at work. One from eBay stating that my account is going to be suspended if I don’t immediately ship this phone. Another from Paypal stating basically the same thing. I read and ignore them. Then another message from this person pleading for my phone number. I take a brief break for lunch and I start looking more closely at these emails. I realize quickly they aren’t from Paypal or eBay. They are very good phishing emails. They are professional looking but the grammar is not right. The From address isn’t @ebay.com or @paypal.com. When I look at the headers for the email I see they were sent from a Gmail account. Of course not the Yahoo account that my ‘customer’ had provided me.

I’m fascinated. I’ve never been sent real phishing emails before. I’m preparing security awareness training at work and these are good examples for my students. I study them and wonder why someone so skilled didn’t spoof the From email address. I login to eBay and type a message to my ‘customer’:

Dear (with the Gmail address from the email header):

Stop trying to scam me. Stop sending me fake emails from eBay and Paypal. I will not be sending you any phone. Find an old lady to rip off instead.

XOXO,
Your Worst Nightmware

I pause and then I delete it. No need to make this scammer angry or send them a challenge. Whoever it is does have my email address which will lead them to some personal information on the Internet. Instead I file a complaint with eBay. Its less satisfying, I will never know the result. I offer to send them the phishing emails but know I’ll never hear anything and will be lucky if someone even reads my complaint.

So beware. This could have ended with me sending this expensive phone off to Nigeria and never receiving a penny for it. eBay and Paypal are great resources for selling/buying and transferring money around but be careful. Setup a different email account for your eBay transactions than for Paypal. Use the messaging tools within eBay and Paypal rather than your email accounts when dealing with strangers. Use strong passwords for both accounts. Don’t use the same password for both even if the email addresses are different. Strong passwords are at least 8 characters in length and include upper AND lower case letters and at least one number and one special character. I know this makes it hard to remember. You can come up with an acronym for the password or get an Ironkey to store them on. Or if you are using them at home and have a safe place to keep them, write them down on a piece of paper (don’t do this at work!). And maybe most importantly don’t let someone in cyberspace bully you around. Use your common sense and use the tools within the eBay and Paypal sites to contact their support teams if something doesn’t seem right.

If you aren’t sure if an email is for real always look at the headers. The headers are things you can’t normally see on an email. It shows you the trail that the email traveled over the Internet. It will show you the real email address that will get any replies you make to the email – its not necessarily the one in the From that is easily visible on an email. How to find the headers depends on your email provider. A simple web search will tell you how to look at the headers in the email client or web mail service that you use. Avoid clicking on anything in an unsolicited email. And grammar counts! If it sounds like it was written by someone for whom English is a second language, it probably was. You can bet that eBay and Paypal have the proper resources available to get their grammar right when they contact you.

Phishing email I received after I foolishly emailed this person instead of using the eBay messaging system.

Phishing email I received after I foolishly emailed this person instead of using the eBay messaging system.

The header from the suspension email above.  This is with Gmail web mail.

The header from the suspension email above. This is with Gmail web mail.

Time to get a new email address. My penance for foolishly sending an email to a cyber stranger.

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Why domestic violence victims don’t leave

Of any book or video I’ve seen this video does the best of explaining why women stay in an abusive relationship and why they are scared to leave.  

I identify when Leslie says ‘I never once thought of myself as a battered wife.  Instead I was a very strong woman in love with a deeply troubled man.  And I was the only person on earth that could help Conner face his demons.’

I believed that I was the only one that kept my ex from going completely crazy on the entire world.  I believed I had some sort of control over his behavior.  I thought I could help him and prevent him from wrecking havoc on society. I was even told by his Mother on several occasions ‘I don’t know what he would be like if you weren’t with him Jamie.  You are the only one that can keep him under control.’

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Man of Steel

I find the newest Man of Steel an over-exaggerated version of what a man should look like. Nothing against Henry Cavill.  At 6′ 1″ with chiseled muscles, strong jaw, broad shoulders his angular face has perfect, even features. He’s a Ken Doll come to life. My brain recognizes that this is the ideal man but my subconscious isn’t attracted to this Hollywood ideal. He looks plastic and unreal to me.  He’s not the ordinary men that I interact with in my daily life.  He’s been dieted, pumped up by the best physical trainers and airbrushed into some strange ideal to fit with this country’s admiration of the perfect physical form of a man.

If you look at a casual Youtube video of him not airbrushed he looks a little more ordinary. More appealing in my opinion. I wonder how many other women feel the same way. 

Men have been presented with the perfect woman by the media largely in the form of porn for years. Porn depicts women who are unrealistically modified, starved and airbrushed. They are one dimensional, images. When men absorb themselves in these images and videos it sets a standard in their mind that ordinary women can’t live up to. These guys start to hold their lovers, girlfriends, wives up to this impossible standard. When the women fall short, the men lose the ability to desire the real woman in their life. Instead they turn to the one-dimensional woman on their computer screen.

I haven’t met women who have this same problem. Its a gender thing they say. I think its a human thing. I think that being too absorbed in any kind of media that portrays one dimensional, perfect human specimens affects our brains and how we view the real people around us.

I haven’t seen Man of Steel yet. Maybe when I do I will melt and want to delete this post. But most likely I will enjoy it for its entertainment value. I doubt it will make me hold men up to the standard of Henry Cavill. But its one movie. Not something I will lose myself in every day.

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Sadness

I think we all suffer from that little voice in our heads that says we aren’t enough at times. I know it creeps into my subconscious sometimes when I’m preoccupied with other things. I’m feeling good and then suddenly I’m overwhelmed with the feeling like I’ve been fooling myself. I start to think I’m still that person struggling to be someone I’m never going to be. I start to think that the happy, adjusted person is just me pretending to be someone I’m not. I start to loathe putting on nice clothes because I think they look foolish on me. Like trying to dress up Elephant Man. I’d rather hide my hideous body in baggy sweats and a t-shirt. I dwell on things I’ve been told about myself in the past and I manage to turn them into reality. I become ugly, boring and worthless.comparison

I’ve been going through one of those phases for a week now. Instead of totally immersing myself in self-loathing I’ve been a bit more detached, analyzing the thoughts that cross my mind. I can identify the source of these feelings some of the time. Other times I wonder when did I start to think that way? I can see no obvious trigger. Just my mind deciding to take a detour on the dark side.

We can call it all different types of things. Low self-esteem, sadness, feeling not good enough. These things are really all the same thing: Depression. I saw my Mother suffer from it for many years and I often wondered why she didn’t do something about it. It seemed obvious to me that she was depressed. Depression often manifested itself in her as anger, tiredness and negativity. I’m not sure she ever recognized it as depression. But that was a different world.

Now its my turn and I choose to deal with it differently. I might wallow in it for a day or two almost enjoying the familiarity of an old, comfortable feeling but I don’t stay there long. I’ve found that if I keep going through the motions, stick to my routines and make the herculean effort to socialize it passes on more quickly. I try to take more of an effort with my appearance and get more exercise. I pick up the phone and call people. And I stay off the Internet….

Perhaps I’m wrong but I think that everyone must suffer from some form of depression. Maybe they don’t call it depression. I usually think of it as sadness or not feeling good enough instead of depression. Maybe I would just like to think that this is everyone’s normal at times. Misery loves company, right?

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