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Archive for October, 2010



Monday, October 25th, 2010

Have you ever watched a group of lobsters together in a tank or even a pot? They snap, crawl, step and push each other out of the way as they all fight to get to the top. They step on the little ones, pile up on the weaker ones and just as soon as one of them starts to pull themselves out – they rest latch on and pull them back down. It is interesting to watch but what is even more interesting is watching people around us and comparing their behavior to that of the lobsters.

Does it sound familiar? Do you know of anyone like that? Are you like that?

The human version of the lobster is someone who tries constantly to bring others down, hold them back and instead of rising to the top of the pot on their own strength and merit, get their by stepping on others and keeping them down, or if they can’t do that, holding others back so they aren’t alone at the bottom. Think about it – I know it sounds familiar. There is always someone ready, willing and able to point out the negative, to never look at or celebrate your accomplishments, never celebrating theirs either – just comparing it to others’ failures. People who feel that it is easier to bring others down than to lift themselves up.  These people, these lobsters suck the energy and the positivity out of everyone and everything around them. When you have something exciting to share, you avoid them because they will have something negative to say about it and burst your bubble…. sound familiar now?

Politics is a prime example of my lobster theory. How often to we see candidates and even elected officials campaigning not FOR themselves, but AGAINST the others? Ads on television and radio – everywhere talking about what the other people did wrong instead of what they have done right? Whenever I see someone engaging in a smear campaign I have to laugh because they are so caught up in their own lobster mentality that they don’t realize that what they say and do about others says more about themselves than anyone else. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see people who feel that they should be in a position of leadership and representation be able to stand on their own merit instead of dragging others down from the top of the pot and stepping on them to keep them down?

More than just in politics though – we see these types of behavior in everyday life. I made a post on my facebook page recently talking about how excited I am for an upcoming vacation. One person’s response was “It must be nice!” and I replied, “Yes it is!” Of course it is or I wouldn’t be excited about it, but we all know that isn’t what she meant – it was a lobster response to someone else’s happiness, a comment that had no other meaning but to lobsterize someone’s excitement and make them feel guilty for doing or having something that others may not.

Some people will say “You shouldn’t brag!”  or “You’re just rubbing my nose in it!” But even those comments are lobster words. Why shouldn’t someone be able to express excitement, joy or pride at their own accomplishments? Why should others have to tone down their enthusiasm for their successes in order to avoid offending other’s self pity? Nothing is stopping others from achieving their goals, dreams and desires so why should we be responsible for how they feel about their own life and try to down-play ours? I think that allowing others to pull us down from the top of the pot makes us just as bad as they are – if they pull us down to their level, if we let them keep us there, we are just as bad as they are and we will all stay in the pot together!

What would happen if we all decided to stop worrying about other’s actions, stop comparing ourselves to them, stop minimizing their successes and instead actually celebrated with them? If they have done something or have something we would like, wouldn’t we get closer to having it for ourselves if we changed our comment from “It must be nice!” to ” That is awesome! I would love to do that, can you tell me how you did?” And instead of being pulled down into the pot, the person holding on to the rim would turn around and start pulling others up!

One of my keys to survival throughout so many trying and difficult times has been to follow the mantra, “Don’t be a lobster!” That means that I will pull myself up, not step on others to get their pr pull anyone down on the way  – focus on my own strengths, acknowledge my weaknesses and improve them, never being afraid to ask for help when needed. When I see someone facing a challenge that I have already overcome, I turn and offer to help them with the tools that worked for me, just as someone one step above already helped me. When people start with pettiness, trying to bring me down instead of pulling themselves up, I ignore them henever possible, sometimes I will even say “Don’t be a lobster” and leave them shaking their head in confusion, basking in their own negativity.

Not being a lobster doesn’t mean you go through life seeing only rainbows. There are problems that need to be addressed, issues, heartache, mistakes, and bad days, and sometimes it is all you can do to keep just one toe out of the pot, but as long as you can hang on with that one toe, you can pull yourself back out again and start all over, pulling others up with you along the way, stronger and wiser for the experience. So the next time someone tries to drag you down or you think of doing it to someone else stop and think – do you really want to be a lobster?? Because the one thing all the lobsters in the pot have in common is that they all get cooked eventually!

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The Fish Bowl

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

After a very interesting day of campaigning door-to-door in my small town yesterday, after being verbally assaulted and threatened with innuendo of scandals of my past being brought to light, I was  still awake at 3am thinking about everything I have ever done, said and even thought – any skeletons that I have left in the closet, any ghosts still haunting me – anything that could be brought back and used to hurt me, my family or my community by undermining my attempt to affect change. This train of thought lasted until this morning when I literally looked myself in the mirror and lughed out loud. How ridiculous is it that a small-town Mayoral race could make someone so paranoid that they even entertain thoughts like this. The experience has left me thinking this morning of life in a fish bowl and how we as observers actually interfere with progress that we want by what we as observers, do. Let me explain.

Most of us can agree that we want the best representation we can get in every level of political office, municipal, provincial, federal and in the US, at the county and state levels as well. We want politicians who will work in our best interest, be fair, color-blind, open minded, approachable, educated, uncorruptable and the list goes on and on. The problem is that while we expect and even deserve these qualities in our leaders – it could be possible that too often we don’t see them for everything else that is visible through the lens of a fishbowl. Do we expect so much from our leaders that the cost of the position is higher than most are willing or able to pay? How many amazing men and women avoid getting involved, avoid the vulnerability and scrutiny of public office to protect their privacy and the privacy of their family’s and ultimately cost society the benefit of what they may have done for us?

How many of us can lay awake at 3am thinking through our entire lives and not find something we regret, a bad decision or an action we can’t take back? How many of us have lived through a lifetime of bad circumstances and even worse decisions only to come out of them stringer, healthier and more compassionate? How many of us have lived lives that can survive the scrutiny of the fishbowl and the brutality of coffee shop gossip? Can you? Is there anything you have ever done, said, have happened to you or been a part of that you would rather not see plastered on the front page of the newspaper? Anything you wouldn’t want your spouse, parents, boss or children to see? Well for many, just the thought of that happening is enough to intimidate them from seeking office, enough to scare them into silence and keep them from getting involved. Many people drown in a fish bowl, it doesn’t make them weak or unworthy, it just makes them human and for those who would use the fish bowl as a weapon, it becomes a very useful tool to silence those they are afraid of, hence the mudslinging campaigns and personal attacks of politics. When you can’t stand on your own platform, knock the others down – unfortunately it is a tried and true method that we see in every form of media during every single election. It is unfortunate, it is sad but it is also a very real part of choosing our leaders – we feel we have the right to know, judge and discuss every detail of their lives – their personal and private ones, their intimate ones, their business dealings, every decision they have made since puberty – is it necessary? I don’t know, some would argue yes, some would argue no but as a person seeking election, whether I think it is right or wrong doesn’t matter, what matters is where we are today and what is happening now.

Like I said, under the open scrutiny of the fish bowl, some people drown but others, people like me who have been through and seen pretty much everything you can imagine and survived have done so because we, I am adaptable. People like me don’t drown in fish bowls – we grow gills.

My gills in the fishbowl of public scrutiny is the belief that people with nothing to hide – hide nothing. My life is an open book and anything anyone wants to know, they can ask. If they find what they think is a skeleton, they can rattle it all they want trying to scare me but chances are that if it is that scary, I have already blogged about it, published a poem about it, spoken about it at a workshop or a conference and if I haven’t it is probably because it isn’t that scary after all, at least not to me. The one benefit of leading the tumultuous life that I have is that very few things scare me anymore, talking about what I have done and survived, mistakes I have made and circumstances I have overcome isn’t a weakness in my eyes – it is a strength. It shows that I am capable of being human – that I can relate to every other fallible human out there, that I can learn, that I can adapt and I can turn those mistakes into experiences to learn, to share and to help others going through the same. If anyone feels that they need to dust off some skeletons from the past to try to discredit my present and future, they are more than welcome – I will be happy to discuss anything, anywhere if they think it will help them make a better decision for a representative. If they think the threat of exposure will scare me or change who I am or what I do though – they are wasting their time. Skeletons don’t scare me. Fish bowls don’t intimidate me. My life is an open book, my past is what has made me the woman that I am today and as much as I wish some of it hadn’t occurred, I would never go back and change it because doing that would change me and I like me just the way I am.

perhaps while we are scrutinizing every other candidiate in every other election, we should stop and think about what we are looking at. Does it really matter or does it just make for interesting gossip? Are these skeletons proof of inadequacy or are they being used as distraction to take our focus off what really matters? Are we being caught in the middle of a mudslinging fight to keep us thinking about everything BUT what is important? I don’t know your answers, only you know what will help you decide on who to vote for on election day, only you know what qualities, histories, skeletons matter in someone you choose as your representative, no one can make that decision for you. Right or wrong, the fishbowl of political office is a current reality and every candidate must decide whether to drown or grow gills. I know what my choice is so if knowing everything about me will make a difference in your choice, by all means – ask away and let’s leave no closet empty!

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