Do Not Feed the Wildlife

“Please do not misplace your kindness,” read the sign at the state park asking it’s visitors to not feed the wildlife.  How many times in life do we have to hear that?  Do not tap on the glass.  Do not feed the wild animals.  What you think is kind is actually self-serving at best or destructive at worst.

I’ve misplaced my kindness almost as many times as I’ve misplaced my keys–which is at least once a day.  I’ve left bits of poisoned good will on short term mission trips. Scattered pieces of benevolence on grieving friends when I should have responded with shared sadness.  I enable my own sin by showing much too much kindness to myself and not enough to others.

When I misplace my kindness, I trick myself into thinking that I am acting out of goodwill when there might be some ulterior motives in play.   It’s one of the first steps to getting lost in the Bermuda triangle of unhealthy relationships–also known as the Karpman Triangle.

There’s a lot of interesting thoughts on this theory and I’ll list some additional resources at the bottom if you want to learn more.  What I’ve found most valuable about this diagram is that it demonstrates how easy it is to slide from role to role, usually as a result of misplaced kindness.

Misplaced Kindness (1)

 

The Rescuer sees a Persecutor hurting the Victim.  In an effort to help the Victim, the Rescuer misplaces their kindness and starts attacking the Persecutor, thus becoming a Persecutor themselves. Now the original Persecutor is the Victim. That is just one scenario of thousands but the basic gist is that once you are in the triangle it’s very easy to just change dysfunctional roles instead of breaking out and working towards healthy relationships.  In healthy relationships, no one is a Victim, Rescuer, or Persecutor.

We respond to triggers from others and end up taking the bait, even though it’s poisonous.  Just like the wildlife at the park, we grow dependent on emotional food that is completely devoid of nutrition and even go out of our way to access this psychological Wonder Bread.

I’m committed to breaking out of the cycle in my head and in my relationships by placing my kindness in such a way that is truly loving to others and honoring to God.  This takes a lot of wisdom, which I don’t always have, but fortunately I serve a God who delights in giving us His wisdom (James 1:5).  So much so that He dedicated several books in His Word to finding and attaining wisdom!  Not a bad place to start.

This post is the first in the Misplaced series–a series inspired by a summer of leaving a life behind in California and starting a new one in Russia.  I’ll be talking about the infamous Quiet Time and much-debated Minimalism next!  Follow along by entering your email address for blog updates.

 

 

Karpman Drama Triangle Resources

General Overview: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle

Official Site: https://www.karpmandramatriangle.com/

Focus on Victimhood: https://www.lynneforrest.com/articles/2008/06/the-faces-of-victim/

Breaking the Triangle: http://www.johngouletmft.com/Breaking_The_Drama_Triangle_Newest.pdf

Not A Travel Blog

When asked what I write about on my blog, I always respond with a tentative “lifestyle things?” although I don’t really know what that means.  I started writing here 8 years ago and since I’m free from all pressures of monetizing the site, I’ve never defined my genre. Content marketing has a powerful gravitational pull and I’d like to keep this corner of the Internet free of all gimmicks, content gating, and gotchas.

What I do know is that this is not a travel blog.  My husband and I currently call Saint Petersburg home and we hope to travel more than we normally would over the next few years, but this will still be my place to share my musings on the world around me, which just happens to be in Russia right now.

Moving to Saint Petersburg has felt like becoming a child again.  I’m slowly sounding out words on buildings as we walk by them, am fascinated by the bright colors of the buildings and parks, and it takes so much longer to do simple tasks than it feels like it ought to.  Just charging my phone is a 3 apparatus ordeal.  And there is the child-like wonder to it as well.  New sights and sounds amaze me and each day is a new adventure as we explore the town, transportation system, and shops.

Daily life here so far is very similar to life in the States on a large scale, and very different in many minuscule ways throughout the day.  The downsized toilet paper and circle electrical plugs, for example. Differences that are neither bad nor good, just different.  These small changes were threatening to throw me off-kilter (is this what they call culture shock?) until I read this passage from C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet:

It was only days later that Ransom discovered how to deal with these sudden losses of confidence.  They arose when the rationality of the hross [a being from a different planet] tempted you to think of it as a man.  Then it became abominable–a man seven feet high, with a snaky body, covered, face and all, with thick black animal hair, and whiskered like a cat.  But starting from the other end you had an animal with everything an animal ought to have–glossy coat, liquid eye, sweet breath and whitest teeth–and added to all these, as though Paradise had never been lost and earliest dreams were true, the charm of speech and reason.  Nothing could be more disgusting than the one impression; nothing more delightful than the other.  It all depended on the point of view.

By no means am I suggesting that Russians are extraterrestrials, rather, I’m realizing more and more how similar we all are.  But moving to a foreign country can feel like an other-worldy experience and I’ll drive myself crazy if I’m finding the small differences “disgusting” instead of appreciating things for how they actually are and finding the similarities delightful.  As Lewis put it best: It all depends on the point of view.

I’m a big believer in dreaming and doing but reality is a  strong force to be reckoned with. Our expectations about what reality should look like often cause us to be disappointed when life doesn’t deliver.   I’d rather rejoice in the ways it gives me joy instead of constantly comparing reality to what I think it ought to look like and ending up feeling like everything is just a little bit (or a lot a bit) off.

2 for 2

We’re officially clocking in on our second year of marriage today, and I’d give this whole married thing a solid two thumbs up.  So far, we’re 2 for 2 as far as amazing years of marriage go.

After birthdays and Christmas and Valentine’s Day, we both felt like our gift-giving abilities were limited so we’ve made it a tradition (2 years in a row counts as a tradition, right?) to go in on a gift together for our anniversary and pick out something that is edifying to our marriage or brings us closer.

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This year’s gift.  Can you guess what it is? 🙂

I’ll be sharing about the gift we chose this year next week on the blog (some related exciting news coming soon–stay tuned!) but in the meantime, here’s what I’ve learned from last year’s anniversary gift.

His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-Proof Marriage

We thought we had read all the marriage books before we got married, but we were wrong.  This one is my favorite because the author isn’t afraid to deal with the reality of a married relationship.

Central to the book is the concept of a “Love Account” that we each have with everyone else in our lives. When we feel loved, a deposit is made in the account. When we feel hurt, a withdrawal is taken out.  For two budget nerds, this double-entry accounting method of describing a relationship had a great appeal but I understand that it sounds a little too mathematical to some.

These Love Accounts explain why you can be in love with our spouse/significant other but still have an affair with someone else.  You can have two love accounts with lots of deposits each with two different people.  As you can tell by the title, the book then describes how to keep withdrawals to a minimum with your spouse and how to avoid making the wrong kind of deposits in someone’s love account who isn’t.  What I really appreciated about this perspective is that it explains why

(A) trust and love can be eroded but recovered

(B) it’s easy to get stuck in a non-stellar relationship (romantic or otherwise) but not be able to let go if the love deposits are just marginally greater than the love withdrawals.

One of the ways we can make deposits in the right love accounts is by enjoying recreational time together. During the chapter on this need for joint leisure, the author frankly states that if you don’t share any favorite activities, you’ll need to do some brainstorming to find mutually enjoyable hobbies and then ditch your favorites to make time.

We hear about sacrifices in marriages in vague terms, but I loved the bluntness of this author’s approach.  Being married might mean giving up your favorite activities.  And that’s okay.

All this to say, read the book.  Whether you’re married, engaged, dating, or not interested, it’s an insightful look at how we love.  It’s encouraged me to not always insist on my way. It’s also inspired me to be more intentional about finding ways to make those deposits into Luke’s love account.

For a $12 book, I’d say that’s a pretty good ROI.

$800 Car Wash

I’m sitting on my couch, just marveling that I have the free time and mental space to write this blog post.  I got into my first (and hopefully, last!) car accident 2 weeks ago today and the last 14 days has been an endless game of phone tag with insurance agents, auto shops, and claims adjusters.

I am relieved and grateful to say that as of 4:30 PM today, we have a Ford Focus back in our lives sans all the dirt that clung to the windows and floor mats.  Since the old car was declared a total loss and we replaced it with its nearly-identical Ford Focus twin, we basically just got the world’s most expensive and longest car wash.  Nothing has changed except the musty “I moved across the country in this” smell has been replaced with that slightly antiseptic “new car” stench.

Very long story short, I lost a little bit of my naive faith in humanity—I had assumed that the at-fault driver would tell the truth—but gained it all back (and then some) due to the generosity of our friends, family, and co-workers as they helped get us where we needed to go during the last long two weeks.

Now that the massive car headache is finally subsiding, I can focus on more important things like Phase 2 of Mission: Minimalism. Coming soon to a blog near you.

 

3 Lessons From The Last 365 Days

Today officially marks my 1 year anniversary working in marketing for Buffini & Company and I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned during my brief stint so far as a young professional.

1. Have some humor

I am always far too serious. Luke and I learned this the hard way.  When we first started dating, he’d make an off-handed sarcastic remark and I’d assume he was dead serious.  Thoughts start racing: “How could he say that?  Am I dating a psychopath?”  Nope, turns out I just had zero sense of humor.  My roommate proceeded to put me on a strict diet of The Office reruns which helped me identify sarcasm out in the wild.

I’m not saying you need to be the office prankster, but developing a professional sense of humor has helped me not get too caught up in the smallest remarks and honestly, it just makes every day more fun.  You’re going to be spending a considerable part of your life at work, why not have some laughs at the same time?

2. Just Say No

For those of us who are new to the workforce, this might be the hardest lesson to learn.  We’re eager to please, eager to get new experiences and opportunities, and bring a lot of energy to our work.  All of these are great things with huge potential pitfalls.  In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown makes this powerful point: “Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.”  Saying no to things because you’re feeling lazy or aren’t working efficiently enough is a problem.  Saying no to things because you are trying to make the most valuable contribution to your company by effectively leveraging your skills and strengths is smart.  I’d encourage you to read the entire book, but here’s the jist of how being an Essentialist makes you a more valuable employee.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.

3. Set goals

Want to take the next step up the ladder or switch to a different department?  Got an awesome idea you’re itching to implement?  Those things won’t happen without clearly defining your goal and then breaking it down into actionable steps.  Give yourself a deadline and then get to it.

I’m fortunate to work at a company that encourages goal-setting and continual improvement.  As a result, I’ve experienced some positive spillover effects into my personal life as well.  I’ve always lived and breathed goals but often equated them with to-dos.  Learning how to make longer-term goals and then parcel those out in the near future has been incredibly helpful in making dreams come true.  For Christmas, my wonderful husband got me a Nomatic planner + journal that is designed perfectly to balance daily tasks, long-term goals, and everything in between. Take a look!

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Whether you’ve been working for 3 months or 30 years, what are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far?  I’d love to hear them!

 

Insta This.

There have been some pretty great mockeries of the Instagram facade lately.  Like when Barbie when hipster and this girl decided to cut out the cropping. Personally, I’ve been tempted to create a satire of my own, showing the moments that truly encapsulate my day: red brake lights, my empty coffee mug, the dirty dishes that NEVER END.

It’s not news to anyone that our Instagram and Facebook feeds are rarely indicative of reality.  And that’s okay.  We turn to social media as a way to escape from the real world of traffic and messy kitchens.  What worries me isn’t the fact that your albums are full of happy photos and inspirational quotes.  What worries me is that everyone’s albums are full of the same happy photos and inspirational quotes.

My Instagram feed is starting to look like a really good set of stock photos.  Cute feet, artful lattes, the latest book.  Since moving across the country, I’ve become a much more avid consumer of social media.  I like seeing what my friends and family are up to.  But nowadays, I can’t tell if those legging-clad feet in adorable saddle-back shoes belong to my childhood neighbor, high school acquaintance, college soulmate, or dad. Minus that last one, I’m missing what used to be the backbone of social media: connection.

Don’t get me wrong.  The photos are gorgeous.  I just want to see more of you in them.

Until next rant,
Chloe

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

When asked if working hard is very important to them, 80% of Americans said yes.  Yet when that same sample was asked if they were working hard at their jobs, the vast majority (84%) said no.

That makes no sense.  We want to work hard, but don’t.  Where’s the disconnect?

It turns out, that the corporate culture and management style makes a word of a difference. As they say at my internship, culture eats strategy for breakfast.  You can set quotas and crack the whip all day, but if your employees hate you, no good work will get done.

I’ve had the unique vantage point of working for two different companies in entirely different industries.

At one, small milestones are celebrated.  The employees are given the tools and resources they need to succeed and the company takes care to match work with skill sets so that the days are satisfying and the quality is top-notch.

The other refuses to believe that Employee Relationship Management (ERM) is just as important as the more well-known acrononym CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  They are under-staffed and refuse to break out the checkbook to ensure that there are enough employees so they can work where they are best suited. The employees leave frustrated and company loyalty is tied directly to a bi-monthly paycheck and very little else.

As I start this absurd adventure of starting my own company, these are lessons I never want to forget.

 Treating employees as well as customers.
 Celebrating small successes.
Providing work that fulfills.
Viewing people holistically instead of as cogs.

Time Zones

My sister has lived at least one time zone away from me for the last five years.  Minus one, plus two, minus three.  My time, your time, Eastern Standard Time.

This summer, my fiance has been in two different time zones.  At first, I consoled myself by thinking, “It will be better once it’s a ten hour difference, not 7 hours.  7 hours is too awkward–10 will be better.”

Turns out, any time difference is the wrong difference.  For now, I am eagerly anticipating the day when I can call all of my loved ones without whipping out the calculator.

#1 Fan

I think people become fans of sports teams because we need something to identify with other than ourselves.  We want our moods and happiness and excitement to be based off of something beyond our own circumstances.  We can’t make life what we want it to be  so we blame our TV shows, sports teams, and friends.

It’s far easier to put the responsibility on something we have no control over than ourselves.  We can’t change things around us, but we can change ourselves and that takes courage.

Strangers’ Smiles and Sunday Sweaters

I am consistently astounded by the friendliness of people I don’t know.  Today, I have pinpointed why a smile from a stranger can make my day when nothing else can.

That person I passed on the sidewalk had no obligation to smile when they saw me.  I wasn’t making awkward eye contact, I didn’t initiate the smile, and they didn’t feel a need to greet me because I’m their lab partner’s sister’s roommate’s neighbor.  We were strangers until the smile.

I am consistently delighted by Sundays.  Some of my friends have dedicated themselves to doing no work on Sundays in honor of the Lord’s day, and I respect them very much for it.  For me, Sunday is a wonderful day to not have the pressure of five meetings in the afternoon and two exams and one quiz during the day.  It is a wonderful day to start with church and allow myself to be by myself or with others or spend a few minutes doing nothing or getting work done so I can thrive and not just survive during the next week.  Rest is highly underrated.  I always insist on wearing a sweater on Sundays.

Sweaters mean comfort and peace and contentment.  Sundays are a good reminder of what every day should contain.