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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grumbling, Not Grumbling

This morning I was grumbling about a rather large project that I am working on (volunteer) and the hubby said to me, "Do you get any satisfaction out of this project at all?"

Which stopped me cold, of course. I mean, I did volunteer, after all. And not just once, but for the third time now. It's not like I didn't know what I was getting into.

So I looked at the results of my project from last year and I held it up to him. "Yes," I said. "Look at this. It's beautiful. It's history. This isn't just something that people glance at and then throw away. Many of the recipients will save it for years and will refer to it and look at it often."

It's a contribution to a community that means a lot to me.

A couple of months a year it does start to feel like an awfully big job, but I've happily agreed to do it again and again, and I know I likely have a few more years in me before I start looking to pass the task on.

So what am I grumbling about?

I don't know. Sometimes people just grumble.

It's not the way I like to operate, and I do tend to purposely avoid people who grumble about anything and everything all the time, yet it's something I slip into now and then.


Looking at the tasks in front of you as if they are destroyers of your time, things you must put up with, obstacles you must overcome...rather than just the general everyday pleasantries of life; grumbling just makes you feel miserable.

So I stopped grumbling, and started thinking about what I like about this particular task. And the more I thought in those terms, the more I began to enjoy myself. This project fulfills the list-making, meticulous side of my brain. I enjoy pulling all these pieces together and watching them fall into place. What starts as a pile of notes and letters and reports and emails turns into a beautifully formatted, well-organized little book.

It's my favorite things -- paper and ink infused with history and documentation and the wonderfully inspiring works of at least 50 creative individuals, many of whom I know and call friends.

That's me. I did that. And each year I work to do it a little better. Make it a little prettier. A little more organized and user-friendly.

And now that I'm not grumbling about it, I feel good again.


Sandra Dodd said...

That was sweet. I was eager to find out what kind of project. I had thought... cooking? Christmas decorations? A quilt! But a book. I like that even more.

A young-20's friend of ours had worked slightly at several worthless little jobs and not kept them, and then applied for a for-real, fulltime job doing customer support for a phone company. He got the job. He was standing next to me in my kitchen when he got the call saying he got the job.

Over the next week he started to grumble and whine and express wariness about working for a big corporation, and being "a corporate drone," and that it was nearly time for him to "have to" go to work.

I got eye contact with him finally and said "Didn't you apply for that job?" And he shut up. It was like a habit he had had his whole life to piss and moan. No wonder he hadn't been keeping jobs! So I suggested he got in there with the hope and enthusiasm that it might be the best thing that ever happened to him, and when I would talk to him I would ask questions that would draw out the good parts, and he liked the job and he was glad for his success.

No doubt he could have been around people who would've rolled their eyes and elbowed him and said "stupid" about it and he could've been miserable.

So maybe we could all make everyone we know feel better about their jobs--whether volunteer, temporary, or full time--by smiling and saying the sweet things and thanking them and all that mushy stuff!

Anonymous said...

Very smart and savvy! Your friend above has a great story too. I hope it's not the calendar you are grumbling about. I love it.Magoo

Tracy said...

Sandra's story reminds me about the last conversation I had with my dentist (before he passed away). I've known him all my life -- since I was a kid -- and he was telling me about his son's decision to go to chiropractor school instead of dentistry. His son said, "Dad, all you ever do is complain about your job. Why would I want to be a dentist?" And my dentist said he really had to stop and think about why the people he loved the most thought the least of his job. He was always happy being a dentist. He loved his job. But all the venting, the frustrations, that's all his family ever knew of it. So it's something I've tried to remain concious of for a while now.

Magoo: You know the calendar is a labor of love. But I'm not working on it yet because I'm counting on adding lots of good pictures to the collection this weekend to be featured.