A Vision of Peace

The snow has covered all of the ugly. Of course, it’s still there underneath the blanket – the broken down car that’s been parked on the street for way too long, the crooked sidewalk, overgrown hedges, rusted chain link fences and sorry excuse of a lawn aren’t visible anymore.

I’m used to hearing people here in the Midwest say, “I love winter.” Or “I love it when it snows!” I grew up in the South and didn’t share the same sentiment when I first moved here. However, it’s grown on me over the last thirteen years or so. It’s common here to hit the man made ski slopes, go sledding or build snowmen. I love it too, but for a different reason.

Have you ever realized how quiet the Earth seems after a heavy snow? It’s like a large blanket that muffles everything. Cars driving by on the street seem quieter. The animals – birds, squirrels, etc. are quieter. You automatically feel the need to hibernate, stay home and rest, drink a hot beverage and do something low-key or do nothing at all. All of the sudden, the fireplace that doesn’t get used, seems necessary.

Last night, we had about three inches of light fluffy snow. I call this the “good kind of snow” – no ice on the sidewalks or roads. I woke up this morning to bright white light streaming through my curtains and it made me happy. But today, I was able to connect the dots and I know now why this weather makes me feel this way.

I’ve recently been ushered into a place of peace in my life. I’ve experienced loss, reconciliation, self-realization and I have also had to cut out some toxic people. However, I have so much joy and feel completely at ease. The things I have experienced in the last twelve months would have been enough to send me into a spiraling depression ten years ago. Today, I accept all of these things as part of my growth journey.

The snow has covered all of the ugly. Of course, it’s still there underneath the blanket – the broken down car that’s been parked on the street for way too long, the crooked sidewalk, overgrown hedges, rusted chain link fences and sorry excuse of a lawn aren’t visible anymore. All I see is pure white. All I hear is quiet and whispers of blowing wind.

I imagine God covering me with a blanket in my times of sorrow and confusion. The blanket is white, soft as snow, all-encompassing, warm and shielding. It covers my frustration, regrets, doubts and all of my ugliness. It’s how I’ve made it this far. It’s the reason why I look out of my window and smile, despite the cold. This is what I imagine peace looks like.

The Day I Blew the Interview

failing-flame

I’ve taught it to staff in training who came to me straight out of college and I’m sure that many of you have heard or said these things yourselves – don’t chew gum, dress for success, take notes, have questions written down, make eye contact, have a firm handshake, etc. etc. etc.  I was cocky. I did all of these things and more, but I still didn’t get the job.

But how could they not want ME!?? (This is what I said to myself at the time)

I was wearing black designer slacks and stiletto heels.  It was mid-summer and very hot so I chose to don a white short-sleeved tailored blazer and ruffled green blouse underneath.  If I do say so myself, I was the image of perfection as far as interview candidates go.  I felt confident and ready.  I brought with me my leather bound interview folder with my name embossed in gold on the front.  I had read the organization’s web site and had my questions written down on a brand new memo pad.  I brought my own pen for extra flare – not the kind that comes in a pack of 12, but one with gold trimmings and a metal tip.

There was a panel about 4 that sat across the table in front of me, asking questions.  I could sense some skepticism, so I smiled and gave out my strongest dose of charm.  I had an answer for every question because I had already rehearsed.  I knew the right things to say and didn’t see a single curve ball that I couldn’t hit.

I walked out afterward, still confident and imagined how long it would take them to call me.  Would they call me the next day or play hard-to-get and make me wait?  I shuffled through the parking lot, dodging potholes on my way back to the car.  It was a rough neighborhood and I knew it, but I knew I would be making a difference and at the time, the prospect seemed to line up with the person I desired to be in the community,

But they never called. I don’t even remember getting a “we regret to inform you…and we appreciate your interest” email or letter. But in reflection, I don’t blame them.

In my eyes, I did everything right.  I checked all the boxes.  However, I forgot to do the most important thing… I didn’t CONNECT.  In hindsight, if I had worn a pressed blouse or polo shirt with trouser jeans or slacks and flat shoes, I wouldn’t have seemed so high and mighty.  I don’t believe it was because they doubted my ability to perform the job functions outlines on the job description.  I didn’t get called because they thought I wouldn’t be able to connect to the inner city youth they were sworn to serve.

What I learned from that is to know my audience and make it a point to connect, no matter what.  I can’t allow myself to be in a place where I don’t adjust to the needs, perceptions and expectations of those I want to serve.  Whether it’s a job interview, an internship interview, workshop, training or one on one coaching session, we have to CONNECT in order to be our most effective selves.  In failing to do so, we limit our scope of influence and stifle our opportunities for positive change.

Stay encouraged.  Never be too busy to stop, listen, look and CONNECT.