Sunday, November 29, 2015

Do I Need to Attend Manager’s Party?

Remember my company’s HR Manager; the owner's family friend who personally attacked me, has caused problems in my department for years and was the impetus for my strength challenge. Well she is back at it again. The other day she called me into her office to complain about my boss and the employee we share. She proceeded to say how unhappy the owners are with both of them and that they were going to have a serious talk with my boss about his attitude along with my employee’s performance. Also, in the New Year my awesome new part-time employee is going to be working for her instead of me and I will be stuck with the employee she doesn't like full-time. Oh and by the way she is having a party at her home for all the corporate managers and their spouses in December. She thinks it will be a good opportunity for all of us to meet outside of work and that it will help with team building which our management staff desperately needs.

My head began to spin. I went back to my office and tried to work, but kept thinking my boss, who has been with the company 30+ years, was going to say to heck with this B.S. and retire. How will I manage if he leaves? I wondered down the hall into our operations manager’s office. Our HR manager also has issues with him, but feels she now has him wrapped around her finger. I told him this and relayed the entire conversation to him. He said, "It is all a lie."  None of this is going to happen; the owners aren’t going to talk to my boss, they aren't upset with him or with my employee and they would never allow my new part-time employee to be transferred from accounting to HR. 

I started to feel better and got up to leave saying, “I don’t think I’m up to going to her party.” Surprisingly he already knew about the party and had even discussed it with one of our owners. The owner is not fond of these types of events, because other employees hear of them, think they are company events and feel excluded. He advised our operation’s manager who also doesn’t want to attend, to have his wife drive and get drunk on our HR manager’s booze. The operations manager recommended I do the same.

In my fitness class that night, I couldn’t help but vent about my day. As I rattled off my list of complaints, one of my gym mates kept interjecting incredibly intelligent comments. Finally, I asked her where she worked.  She was self-employed, a writer and a leadership instructor. Who was she? Susan Marshall of the Backbone Institute.

I now know how I will respond when I meet someone I admire in person – I become a blubbering idiot. I read Susan’s column every month in Wisconsin Woman Magazine. Her October column "Good News About You" is currently sitting on my night stand with the following paragraph underlined:
Aggressive people are no more confident than you are. However, they have learned how to use their voices, posture and position to get what they want. When you understand this and refuse to be bullied by it, you gain freedom to go about your business in a professional manner. You need not try to change them, but you don’t need to be cowed by them either.
As to the holiday party, I still wanted to decline, but was concerned I would be missing out on the team building. Will not going be a bad career move?

 “NO," Susan replied, "Not going is called setting boundaries.”

Susan Marshall’s book Of Beauty and Substance: A Backbone Guide for Womenhas been on my reading list since I first heard of it. I went home and ordered a copy.

Have you been invited to a co-worker's house party you dreaded attending? Did you go?

Note, I am an Amazon affiliate.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

My Year in Nonfiction - 2015

Woo-Hoo – it’s nonfiction November!

I’ve been reading nonfiction almost exclusively for several years now, so I am excited Kim, Becca, Lu, and Katie are hosting Nonfiction November - a month dedicated to reading and celebrating nonfiction - again this year.

This week Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness asks about our year in reading. I’ve read 17 nonfiction books to-date in 2015. Here they are in chronological order along with my opinions:

French Women Don't Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitudeby Mireille Guiliano
Intrigued by the title, I picked this one up from the library on a whim. I had read Guiliano's previous book French Women Don't Get Fatseveral years earlier and was looking for a book dedicated to appearance. Unfortunately, this book was mostly a recap of her previous work and was disappointing.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Businessby Charles Duhigg
I enjoyed this one while reading, but no longer remember much of it - except for the horrible story of casinos taking advantage of a woman with a gambling addiction.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch--Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foodsby Jennifer Reese 
I read this one for my live healthy on a budget challenge. Despite being entertaining and informative, I never made a single recipe from the book.

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs
This is another book that wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted practical, researched health tips, instead this book read like a gimmick.

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gainby Portia de Rossi
A must read for anyone wanting to learn what it is like to have an eating disorder. De Rossi provides an honest account of what was going on inside her head while suffering from anorexia and bulimia.

Ride of Your Life: A Coast-to-Coast Guide to Finding Inner Peaceby Ran Zilca
This one offered good advice, but I was left wanting more.

Buying In: What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker
A bit dated, but still informative.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I know many of you loved this book, but it didn’t work for me and I now find Amy Poehler annoying. I was looking for more of a feminist manifesto. It seemed to me Amy didn’t really want to write this book and only did so because she couldn’t find a way to get out of it. I preferred Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Doby Clotaire Rapaille
I don’t have any comments on this one because I can’t remember anything of substance from this book.

Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change and What to Do about Itby Vivian Diller Ph.D.
I read this one after spotting it on a list of recommended reading for a female mid-life crisis. It was a decent book written by a psychologist that deals with understanding the emotions women experience as we age. (To be honest, so far I'm not too concerned about my aging looks).

The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness by James Altucher
I read this over the summer when I was feeling overwhelmed at work. I wasn’t expecting it to offer anything new and didn’t plan on finishing it, so I was surprised by how helpful it actually was.

Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World by Megan Feldman Bettencourt
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This was a great study of forgiveness.

Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life by Jane Pauley
This book was a light and somewhat informative book on reinvention.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
This is the best book I've read all year and have been recommending it to everyone. In addition to teaching me about racial history and the great migration, it provided an eye-opening lesson on living in the moment. This is the book I think about most often.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Areby Brene Brown
This book taught me that comparison is the cause for much of our unhappiness and that creativity is the key to meaning. It is a good self-help book.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I read this one to learn more about living in the moment, it was helpful, but I started losing interest towards the end.

Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyevaby Rosemary Sullivan:
I loved this book. It provided insight into Stalin, his family and life in Russia during and immediately after his regime. Life for Svetlana doesn’t necessarily get better when she defects to the US. She was looking for freedom, but wasn't prepared for our freedom of the press. The chapters she writes about Ogilvanna Wright (the wife of Frank Lloyd Wright) and Taliesin are highly entertaining and not favorable.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwideby Nicholas D. Kristof:
I have 20 pages left to read in this book, but want to mention it because I am sure it will go down as one of the best nonfiction books I’ve ever read.

This process of listing my year of books has been an enlightening experience. I see a pattern of trying to come to terms with my age, searching for help in dealing with work stress and attempting to figure out what to do next. I also realized I don’t want to write about health and have abandoned my life healthy challenge. I am hoping reading Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is the beginning of a new direction for me.

Books from this list I’ve recommended the most:
The Warmth of Other Suns and Stalin’s Daughter.

What nonfiction topic do you not read enough of?
I am always reading to learn something new or to fulfill a book challenge I've set for myself or to write a review I’ve committed to. I’d like to spend more time reading nonfiction - that reads like fiction  - with the sole purpose being to read a really good book.

My reading picks for nonfiction November are:

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreamsby Alfred Lubrano

What are you reading for Nonfiction November? What was your favorite nonfiction read this year?

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