Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Very Valiente Recollection Collection

If you've spoken with me for more than about 30 minutes in the past month five years, you know that I have been uncluttering since the spring of 2007. I talk about it, write about, and think about it literally Today I finished reading five years' with of blog posts on Unclutterer, my new favorite blog. I generally prefer to offer items I am getting rid of to people I know, and I normally encourage people not to take my crap if they don't want it. I mean, I don't want it either! Generally when someone has given me a gift that I no longer plan to own, I offer it back to them.

So as I've been conquering my mountains and boxes of clutter, leaving my mother to wonder if I plan on owning any things once I'm done, I've had this stack of journals. The date back all the way through high school and chronicle some really rough times in my life. Sadly, though, they are penned from the perspective of a child. The accounts of the highs and lows of my family and my past are captured in those pages through the eyes of a teenager and then a very young woman. It's true to say that it appears I have recounted the facts of the events and seasons correctly; however, I naturally put my own spin on them. It is also true to say that if I were to tell the stories again, I wouldn't tell them in the same way that I told them in my journals.

So I've lugged this pile from Texas to Georgia and back, and again to New York. They've been bundled and hidden away; the Yankee graciously agreed not to read them. I have been holding onto them thinking they chronicled my story and growth. Today I confronted the pile. I went through them chronologically and skimmed the pages.  First of all, WOW were a lot of the entries just plain boring. I don't think my future heirs really care about a recap of a sick day spent on the couch. Second, they contained a lot of very, very personal details that I wouldn't want someone to read. Even in 20 years, I doubt I'll want any person to know how I felt about some of the events from my past. Third, they referred to people I don't even remember now. Lastly, they contained a lot of emotional baggage. Lots.

So I tossed them out. All of them, except one. I saved one that genuinely tracked my growth out of my horses's ass phase and into living a life of intentional decision making and planning. I also kept the one page I wrote on September 12th, 2011. I kept a portion of an entry that had a bit of reflection that I considered genuine. The rest are currently in my trash can. They are covered in coffee ground and applesauce, soaked with old beef broth that I chucked because it had been in the fridge for awile. The one that I kept is locked away and hidden. And it shall stay there.

One day I will convince the Yankee that we should only own six pieces of furniture. Until then, let the uncluttering continue!

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Very Valiente Excursion

This holiday weekend, the Yankee and I drove to Philadelphia for a quick weekend trip. Philadelphia is a very pretty city in the tourist parts with lots of one-way streets (score!) and independently-owned businesses. They also cater nicely to tourists with money to spend.

We planned to leave right after work, but there was an emergency that the Yankee had to tend to, so we didn't leave until midnight. A late start meant late rising on Saturday, so we didn't embark on our exploration until mid-afternoon. We took a bus tour of the city, which was pretty great. There was some random stuff on the tour that we didn't care about, like a museum where you can touch everything, but we also saw Betsy Ross' house and the Rocky Steps. We also saw the Liberty Bell and all the places that Nicholas Cage ran around and dismantled in "National Treasure."

We had a number of lessons-learned on our trip. I consider myself a fairly great budget maker and we are somewhat great budget-stick-to-ers. We were able to pay for the trip entirely in cash (thanks Dave Ramsey!) and stay at a really wonderful hotel. There were a few things that I had not considered when laying out the projected cost of our trip:
1. Tolls. Effing Tolls. Effing New Jersey and tolls. We paid about $50 in tolls that I had absolutely not even thought about.
2. Parking. The Gross family always tended to travel economy-style, which meant staying in hotels without a lot of "extras." These kinds of hotels tend to be located on the out-skirts of the places we visted, which means there is normally a nice parking lot. The Valiente family has tended to select the most baller hotel we can afford, but these kinds of hotels are normally smack-dab in the middle of the action, built vertically and not hortizontally, and happy to park your car for you. We spent over $70 in parking.
3. Breaksfast. The kinds of hotels with parking lots are often the kind with continental breakfasts. Radissons and Hiltons also have breakfasts and are happy to bring them to your room with little bottles of ketchup and itty-bitty salt and pepper shakers. Over $30 on one breakfast. Thank goodness we slept through breakfast on Saturday!

The Northeast tends to kinda hates letting you park or drive anywhere without paying for it. I consider this to be complete and total crap. I work in New Jersey, which means I pay taxes there. Why in the world do I have to PAY to drive on a highway if I've already given the state taxes? In Texas, they pay no taxes and there are hardly any toll roads, except in major cities. Northeast region, I call BS on you.
We ate some pretty fantastic food and enjoyed a gluten-free bakery that was okay. We also got a lot of rest and time to relax. We came home on Sunday afternoon with a list of fun things to do next time we go to Philadelphia- which I hope is soon. I also came home with a bit of sticker shock and will most definitely consider this when we plan our next trip (to Boston in the Spring).

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Very Valiente Commentary on Contentment

Last night over dinner the Yankee said he read the last entry on our my our blog and asked if everything was okay. We had a short conversation processing my views about contentment, which led us down a path of other conversation topics.

In August of 2010, the author of Unclutterer quoted Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man:
Even modern replacements for priests, rabbis, and Zen masters — the positive psychologists — have something to say on this point. That new breed of shrinks has discovered that happy people spend a lot of time being grateful for what they have and savoring their experience. They don’t rush through “now” to get to later. They don’t make taking care of themselves or taking care of their families something they have to get over with so they can get to the good stuff. Instead, they insist that this moment, whatever it is, is the good stuff.
 All my life, I've been in perpetual wait mode. Life consisted of my dad's next deployment, our next move, finishing a grade, finishing college semesters, etc. Then it was waiting to graduate, to get married, then to move to New York. So now we are here. We have some major life goals on the far horizon, but mostly we're just living life. We don't have any real deadlines for our goals, other than the fact that eventually my body won't be suitable for carrying children. It's hard to get out of wait mode, even if I have nothing that I am waiting for.

Please allow me to backtrack a tad and state that I am not unhappy. I have a joyful life that I love. I am, however, restless. I'm generally more comfortable in motion; I don't care to spend a "lazy day" on the couch, watching TV. I prefer to take an alternate route if I can avoid traffic, and I'll call it a short cut. I want to enjoy my life, here and now.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Very Valiente Delegation of Suckitude

Delgation. That's a pretty word for "do this because I outrank you." Kinda. Delegation is important because you don't want a CEO spending time filling out his expense reports when he has a company to run. You don't want the head of an accounting department trying to fix the printer. Or even touching the printer. Delegation is also important because it's also how you teach, which is important for getting promoted; a good way to get promoted is to learn a new role and teach someone to fill yours. Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist says here that managers should delegate the good stuff as a way to teach. I agree.

There are a few kinds of delegation: genuine delegation, bitch delegation, dirty delegation, and BS delegation. Let's explore these.

True, genuine delegation means that a project or responsibility is broken up and handed out which frees the person at the top to focus on something else, while allowing others to learn or even stay employed. After all, if the people at the top can do everything (including admin work), then why do they need administrative workers. This might be something like testing a process or assembling binders for a presentation.

Bitch delegation really means assigning bitch work. Crap work. Grunt work. Sometimes this has to be done. Like Judge Elihu Smails said to Danny Noonan, "The world needs ditch diggers, too."

Hanz Finzel gave me the term "dirty delegation" in The Top Ten Mistakes Good Leaders Make. This is when you say something been's delegated, but then you tell the person exactly how to do it and breathe down their necks making sure they follow your process and run everything by you.

BS delegation is the cousin of bitch delegation. BS delegation is when you "delegate"people really really crappy things to do while creatively explaining how it's really their job to do it. The problem with this form is that you're not genuinely "delegating" here. You're really asking for a favor and sometimes just being bossy. It's kind of like saying "that's not my job." Here are some examples of BS delegation:
  • Calling someone into your office and asking them to retrieve a file from you. A file that is located in your office.
  • Walking past the scanner/copier/fax machine and asking someone to scan one single page to you.
It takes people of all levels in a team, department, or company to make the world go 'round. Someone has to make the coffee and someone has to create an operating strategy. Sometimes the person who makes the coffee ends up being one of the movers and the shakers of the company after working his/her way to the top. Delegation is important to this structure. And sometimes it's just plain old BS.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Very Valiente Change of Direction

Last last year I decided that My One Word for 2012 was going to be LESS. I laways give my years a theme. Here's a list of themes:
2010: Getting over the Boogey Man God
2009: The year of getting my s--- together
2008: Survival, plain and simple
2007: The year of getting rid of things
2006: The year everything changed
2005: The year of trying new things
2004: The year of finding a place for everything
2003: This is a complicated year to talk about, so I'll skip this one

So last year was PROACTIVE and this year would be less. Except that in 2007 I decided to stop arguing with God about the direction of my life, so when He pressed upon me that this had better would in fact be a year of searching for CONTENTMENT, I not-as-quickly-as-I-should-have changed my theme.

When I moved to Savannah in 2003, I was so very angry at God with assigning my life to that city. I moved with a rotten attitude and there was nothing that would have changed my mind. This was the beginning of a downward spiral I call my "Horse's Ass Phase." Because I was, indeed, a horse's ass during that time. When I moved to El Paso in 2006, I decided that I would and could be content anywhere that I could praise the Lord and pay my bills (I've added "love my husband" to that). So now that I am living in New York with fewer local friends than I can name on one hand, I am struggling to find contentment here.

It's tempting to say I was content in San Antonio, because I was for the most part. It's also tempting to compare life here to life there and think that I'll never be content here. But that won't work. Not at all. That's a sure-fire way to end up right back where I was: a horse's ass.

So I am re-emabarking on my journey for 2012, in search of CONTENTment. Not sure how I'll find it or make it, but I'll pursue it and lay it (and my prayers) before the Lord and wait expectantly as David described in Psalm 5:3. Perhaps I won't be content by the end of this year, but I find that proactively pursuing a goal is infinitely more fruitful than passively succombing to mediocrity.

Stay tuned and keep reading, won't you?