Archives for posts with tag: authenticity

People who personally know me understand that I am huge on family ties. I love my nieces to pieces, and those nephews, too. Plus my siblings, cousins, the aunts and uncles who were there, my in-laws, my parental units, etc. etc. My family means everything to me. And anyone who is my Facebook friend knows that my current muse is The Moose, my grandniece.

I am dabbling in ancestry, and I thank my lucky stars for cousins on my dad’s side of the family (Gloria Gaddis) and my mom’s side (Patti Schacht) who have both dedicated so much time to tracking down our family histories.

Which brings me to recent news: the fact that actor Ben Affleck tried to downplay an ancestor who was a slave owner. I can’t say I blame him for his embarrassment, because it is horrible indeed to realize your ancestors once owned slaves. Still, the truth will set you free, Ben. I do think he was wrong to try to hide it.

That being said, I also share that same shame and horror, and it is something of which I also feel great embarrassment: my great-grandfather, William Cotten Downing, came from a family of slave owners. They lived in Washington County, North Carolina. Great-grandpa William was born in 1850, and was a mere teen during the Civil War. That war had great impact on him, the family, and their homestead. It had to be the most horrific time in US history for all citizens. I really don’t think any of us alive today can imagine its impact.


W.C. Downing was a writer who worked for newspapers in North Carolina. As a journalism major and writer/editor in my career, I feel a kinship with him. Where I differ from him is in his political leanings. I now have in my possession many of his poems and essays that had been handed down to my grandmother, then my Aunt Virginia, then my sister Marion, and now to me. His writings show he was on the wrong side of history, on the side of the Confederacy. They also show a compassionate, loving human being. In light of history, it is hard to reconcile those two sides. My thoughts were how could a man who supported the Confederacy be a decent, kind, loving human being? But his writings show that he was both.

Several years ago, our cousin Patti found a group of black Downings at a church in Washington County. They are the descendants of the slaves that our great-grandfather’s father once owned. Surely, there are many who share our bloodline. Patti shared communion with them and asked for forgiveness of our ancestors’ transgressions. They graciously gave forgiveness and celebrated Patti in their shared faith.

I do feel tremendous shame about this aspect of my family history. But I do realize that we don’t have control of our ancestors, and that they were products of their times. Does that make it right? Of course not. But we can’t change that. I guess it’s about admitting it and growing from that. And doing the right thing every day of our lives to make the world better.




I think most of us have been there, especially when you’ve been in a job for a long time. Job burnout.

I found this article by Michael Broder to be filled with some common-sense tips. Only three, but they are important to remember. And there comes a time when you have to choose the third option. Remember, it’s your life (a short life, too) and if you find yourself dreading going to work each day, it really is time for a change. Of course, you have to be practical, but change can be a good thing.

Let me know if you’ve experienced job burnout and how you dealt with it. I’m curious to know what others have done.

Enjoy your Friday!

Article reprinted from The Huffington Post below:

3 Tips for Conquering Job Burnout

Posted: 09/13/2013 8:22 am




Can you relate to the following scenario? You once approached your work in a dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic way. You were eager and excited about your responsibilities. While you were aware that there are built-in frustrations in your work with coworkers, clientele, or the system itself, you felt that you were making an important contribution to your organization and/or field. But gradually, you’ve begun to feel a sense of stagnation. This has slowly led to feelings of apathy, to the point that it’s become difficult even to feel motivated anymore. But since it’s not in your nature to give up or stop trying, your apathy causes an internal conflict that brings upon feelings of cynicism, depression, hopelessness and low self esteem related to your job, career or profession. If this description resonates with you, it’s likely you are experiencing job burnout.


It’s important to realize that not just anyone experiences burnout. To get burned out, you must first have been “on fire.” People who go to work just to get a paycheck are rarely the ones who get burned out. It’s those who once connected with their work from a place of passion but are now no longer intrinsically motivated at work that generally experience the pain of burnout. Burnout can be a great signal that something needs to change.


Here are three tips to get your job burnout under control, to reconnect with your passion and restore your positive attitude about work:


Stop devaluing yourself — Burnout can occur when you’re not feeling valued by others but even more often occurs when as a result you devalue yourself. Take a few minutes to jot down the reasons you entered your field in the first place. Who are you really committed to serving? Also write down how your current role makes an impact, whether on other coworkers, clients, students, your family, or other people in your life. Sometimes to feel like you’re pressing the reset button, you just need to take a step back, remind yourself of your contributions — big or small — and recommit to the mission you chose for yourself. Often trying to please the “powers that be” and getting hung up on their approval makes you to lose that perspective.


Take back control — Almost every job has a variety of characteristics that are not your choice. These factors may include hours, bosses, coworkers, certain aspects of those you serve or the salary. But there are also factors you do have control over that you may not be taking ownership of when feeling burnt out. For example, if there are certain tasks that are more enjoyable for you than others, maybe you can focus on job tasks that emphasize your strengths and delegate those tasks that do not fit as well with your preferences. If there is a specific aspect of your job that you can identify as being something that once fulfilled you but no longer does, perhaps there are changes that can be made to reactivate this element of your job. But even if these things are not possible, you can refuse to let negativity control this important part of your life. And then switch to problem solving mode. The problem: How do I restore that crucial passion I once felt for my work?


Consider a change — If you’re truly powerless to change circumstances at work, a career or job change may be in order to bring you back to your zone of passion. My book, Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential, is resource to help you find a career that will quickly reignite your passion. As a bonus, I have seen with many people who have consulted me, that when your work coincides with your passion, financial success follows — often effortlessly.


The longer you wait to address your job burnout, the more likely it is that your apathy will spread to other areas of your life, including your relationships and even hobbies. So if you’re experiencing burnout, nip it in the bud, quickly!


I have always been an introvert, and I am also shy. Many people would assume those two things are equal, but they really aren’t, as explained in the attached article.

I’m getting better at my shyness – I’ve had to working as long as I have. My introversion, however, is innate and it is who I am.

At a pool party yesterday with family members, this was a topic of conversation. We were discussing various family members who are introverts but not shy, and even one member who is an extrovert but IS shy. That seems like an odd combination, but we have someone who fits that bill (you know who you are).

The key is for all of us to understand who we are, be the best we can be without trying to change those innate attributes, and accept each other. After all, the world needs the talents that each of us bring.


This week has been very challenging for our family. A story not for me to tell, but nonetheless it has shaken our world and brought us all back to what truly matters.

Today I read this article which made perfect sense to me: finding the joy in every day, even the crappy days. Because even the crappy days are here on earth, and that’s something to celebrate and thank the powers-that-be.

One piece of advice from this article that I’m going to try upon meeting new people: instead of asking them “what do you do?” ask them: “what do you like to do?” Big difference. I don’t know if that kind of question is confined to our culture, but finding out what someone likes to do as opposed to what they do to survive can open up some real human conversations.

So tell me, what do YOU like to do?

And let me know what you think about Laura Munson’s article from The Huffington Post about finding the joy in every day.

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