These Are The Days

Smart ~ Writer ~ Mom

Month: January 2015

The “A” Word

The thing about words is that sometimes they lift us up and sometimes they can bring us way down. And they can linger in the psyche for years and torture you and haunt you for years.

Maybe it’s just me.

Regardless, I’ve been thinking about a certain word for a week or so now. Ever since I read my friend Ashley’s blog post about the word that gave her so much angst for so many years.

Her word was: arrogant.

My word? AGGRESSIVE.

Just like Ashley, my word was said to me at a time when I was particularly vulnerable to criticism. I was in my early 20s at the beginning of what would be a decade-long career working for the mouse in Florida. I had aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder and so I networked with people and took advantage of any opportunity to learn. Willing and eager were two words that could describe 22-year old me.

I was a Guest Relations host in the Disney theme parks and had recently been promoted to a semi-permanent position called “a lead” –  which is Disney-speak for an entry-level supervisor. I was thrilled to have this new responsibility and quickly tried to learn as much as I could so I could get better at my job.

A good friend of mine was also a lead in the same department. He took me under his wing and gave me some suggestions and tips. He encouraged me and was a good shoulder for me to lean on as I learned the ropes. I tried hard. I failed. I tried again. I took whatever shifts were given to me, even if it was the 4pm – midnight shift, which no one wanted. I came in early. Stayed late. And tried to learn as much as possible. This was my first real opportunity at Disney and I didn’t want to blow it.

And then I had my annual performance review.

My supervisor, who was not much older than I, sat down and was quite friendly. At first. And then he said, “You’re doing a good job, Kim … uh … but some people think you are a bit … uh … aggressive.”

Whut?

His words cut me down. They caused me to second-guess everything I’d done up to that point. Was I too headstrong? Too determined? Too goal-oriented? Or was I really just a bitch?

For years after that interview, I played the good girl at work. Oh sure, I moved around laterally within the company. But I always played it safe. I went after easy jobs knowing I had a damn excellent chance of getting them. And while the years following this review were some of my fondest years at Disney, I look back and wonder if I might have had different experiences had I possessed more confidence in myself.

That word shaped how I thought others viewed me. It affected how I behaved, whether I applied for a new opportunity – or not. And it colored how I thought of myself. I didn’t want to be labeled “aggressive.” Who does?

Here’s the mistake I now realize I made: Rather than letting “aggressive” be his word for me, I ascribed it to myself. It became my word. It was the hesitation I felt when I had to have a difficult conversation with a boss or co-worker. It was the uncertainty that crept up on me when I tackled a new project or responsibility. It was the imposter syndrome I felt for years (and admittedly, do still feel from time to time) when someone asks what I do for a living and I sort of hesitate and say “I’m a content creator – I’m a writer.”

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve come to realize that words really do have power. (As someone who makes a living stringing words together, I’m fully aware of the irony of that statement.)

I’d like to say that I’ve let it go. I’ve moved on. The day of that performance review has faded from my memory. But that would be untrue.

And believe it or not, I’m sort of glad. I’ve had the most amazing job opportunities. I’ve formed the sweetest friendships at work. And I’ve been lucky to work with and for some incredibly talented people.

I like to think that I’ve thrived in spite of the doubt his words placed on me that day. In fact, maybe while playing it safe, it caused me to work a bit harder. I don’t know.

There’s another “A” word out there that I haven’t quite mastered yet: ASSERTIVE. For the record, I am SO not assertive in most situations. But I’m getting there. If I get really worked up about something, I’ll have no problem telling you exactly what I think. But in the everyday stuff of life, I still find that I play it safe most of the time. Little by little, I’m pushing my comfort zones and becoming more assertive.

Yes, I think that’s a word I can rally around.

In fact, I’ve decided to make it my new “A” word. No performance review needed.

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My Daughter, The Spice Girl

Both my girls love music. I like to think it’s the musical influence on my side of the family shining through to the next generation. Really, it’s probably attributable to the fact that we listen to all kinds of music in the car and at home.

Either way, my girls love Taylor Swift and all the Top 40 stuff. They know some country and some classic songs. For the love of all that is good and decent, they know who Paul McCartney is. And they know some 80s and 90s tunes, which makes me smile. Heck, they even know jingles from the latest commercials – next to singing the entire Wayfair.com song, their favorite commercial is “Nationwide is on your side…”

But this morning my little one came out singing a new song. She had the tune right and the majority of the words were correct for a three-year old.

And then I got a little closer and heard what she was really saying. And that’s when I realized I had a spice girl on my hands.

At the top of her lungs she was singing, “But I’m only CUMIN….”

So close.

My Hair Is Nervous

Ok so we’re in a new state and you know what that means: it’s time to find a new hairstylist.  Omg the stress.

So I did some research and found a salon that has tons of good reviews…and so here I sit.

I’ve been lucky with hairdressers. One of my favorites – and my most recent – is a fabulous Columbian man named Gilbert. The salon was in New York City and he was so sweet. Always sharing tidbits of wisdom with me. Remarkably,  the cost for a cut and color was half what it was in our Jersey suburb. But even if it wasn’t, I would have gone to Gilbert forever. He made me smile and he always greeted me with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Oh, and he was also great with hair 🙂

For women, this is is such a big deal. I could come out looking like a million bucks or forty three cents.

It’s a gamble, really.

Cross your fingers.

Memories, Mickey, and Bingo

My grandmother was born on this date – January 8, 1919. Which means if she were alive today she would be 96 years old! Longevity is a trait among most of the women on my mother’s side of the family; many of my great-aunts lived well into their 80s and 90s.

I always remember her birthday, as it falls right after the busy-ness of the holiday season when everything has calmed down a bit. Plus, it’s Elvis’ birthday. Not sure if she cared much for him or about sharing a birthday with him, but it’s one way of remembering the date.

I remember other things, too:

* She had an impeccable sense of style and was always in tune with the latest fashions. She would pick out some outfit and say “that’s what they’re all wearing.” Which led me to always ask in my sarcastic teenager manner, “Who are they?”

2014_05_23_14_39_400001* She was a Home Depot DIY-er before it was popular.

She totally would have loved every single show on HGTV.

Wish I remembered this photo, but here I am with her. It appears we’re painting her back door. (1974)

* She would have loved my ten year old daughter for both of the reasons stated above.

* Her nails were always long, trim, and polished. 

* She liked to stick her head out the dining room window to see what was going on in our driveway below. 

1980s-12

 

 

 

 

 

* She was thrilled that her fourth and final grandchild’s name started with the letter “M”. Especially given that her first three grandchildren’s names all began with “K” which was very confusing when calling for us, yelling at us, or simply remembering who was who. Whom? (Shout out to my cousin Marc! And my sister Kerri and cousin Kristina)

* She used catch phrases that confused the heck out of me. I recently started saying one of her favorties – “well it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.” Which causes my girls to stare at me with blank faces. Another classic was when someone asked her what was for dinner. If she was feeling witty she may have replied, “Wind pudding and air sauce.” A throwback to the struggles of the Depression? I have no idea, but that phrase always made me squint a little…

* Her formal dining room chair cushions were covered for the longest time in a pink fabric. My poor grandfather!

1944 (Sullivan) Nana and Pa wedding picture* Speaking of my grandfather, they were married on July 4, 1944.

I totally love this photo.

 

 

 

* She had crushed, powder-blue velvet love seats in her formal living room and a fake fireplace in the den where she watched Wheel of Fortune and the Price is Right.  Ah, the 1980s!

1989-1* My sister, my husband and I worked for Disney for many years. My sister still does. Back in 1988 when I first started my Disney career, I worked at the Disney Store at the Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mickey was making a special visit and cast members and our families were invited for a before-hours meet and greet. Glad my grandmother got to meet Mickey 🙂

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The table and chairs are mine. The buffet is against the wall. Please ignore the strip of white padding under the carpet. We’ve since chopped that off 🙂

 

* She liked to play Bingo. And that one leads me to my newest memory. I am really happy to have my grandmother’s buffet server and china cabinet from her original set (which I’m told is probably about 70 years old).

20141231_220715Now. This set was moved to my parent’s house in 1998, following my grandmother’s death.

It remained there until 2005 when my folks put it in storage.

Now, ten years later, it made the six hour trek in the back of my father’s car to our new home in Delaware.

As my husband was refurbishing the china cabinet – I kid you not – a red Bingo chip fell out.

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I’m taking it as a sign that she’s happy the set is being used again.

Thanks Nana, and Happy Birthday.

And So It Begins

A lot has happened since last I wrote!

  • The building of our house was completed!
  • We packed and moved to a new state!
  • We celebrated Christmas!
  • Enjoyed a visit from my folks and my sister-in-law!
  • Our girls started new schools!
  • A small snowfall shut the state down (basically) but the BONE CHILLING cold and winds are the worst I’ve ever experienced! (this includes 18 years growing up in New England, 18 months living in Chicago, and 8 years living in Syracuse – THE. WORST!)
  • I discovered a new appreciation for the exclamation point!

So much to tell and pictures to go with it all, I promise.

But for now, let me just say that we’ve settled into a new home and new routines and our girls are adjusting beautifully. So grateful for that.

In fact, today was my 10-year old’s second day of school and she invited two girls from our neighborhood over for a playdate. Did I have snacks? No. Did they care? No!

Again with the exclamation points.

New schools and new friends and playdates…and so it begins 🙂

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Ringing in the New Year!

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