Sunday, January 23, 2011

Brief Hiatus

Shy and Reserved One will take a brief hiatus for the next eight or so days, while I return to Case Western Reserve University's campus for a weeklong residency for my master's program at the Weatherhead School of Management. 

If my classmates are reading, they'll agree that it's a phenomenally inspiring program, so I may be bursting with ideas and sneak in a post here and there as time allows. 

In the meantime, I welcome your comments on previous posts and suggestions for future ones.

Have a fabulous week!


Friday, January 21, 2011

Take Control...

Recent events in the news and right here in my neighborhood have me thinking about how we react to people and circumstances that hurt us and chip away at our spirit.  I can’t help but think that, as difficult as life is, we are all much more powerful than we realize—a lesson I fortunately learned very early in life.
You see, I was once the short, quite child, who was teased endlessly about my size by fellow classmates.  Then came Mr. Zarifeh, the oldest and wisest teacher in my elementary school, to substitute teach a class one day in second grade.  He noticed the teasing and my embarrassment, so he stopped the lesson and gave the class a lecture on kindness.  At the end of his talk, he said something I’ve never forgotten:  “You really shouldn’t underestimate her….she may be small but her impact on the world will by no means be small.”  Powerful words for a 7-year-old to hear.  He said them with such conviction and authority that I was beaming for the rest of that day.
Thirty three years later, I’m still short and my impact on the world remains to be seen, but as I look back on Mr. Zarifeh’s words, I realize one very important thing:  That was the day I stopped feeling like a victim and rejected out of hand that anyone can make me or make me feel like a victim again.  This served me well as I navigated a new culture and language at age 13, in my work in politics and in personal relationships. 
So, why am I writing about this?  I see victims—or those accepting the role—all around me, and it drives me crazy.  They are everywhere—from kids enduring bullying on the playground, to people accepting substandard service from government agencies, neighborhood residents being held hostage by gangs, and the list goes on. 
This post is my way of standing on a rooftop and pleading with people to stand up to the bullies (after all, they’re just insecure cowards), demand timely and quality service from government employees (since our tax dollars pay their salaries), and for God’s sake stop holding candlelight vigils and building makeshift memorials after innocent children are murdered (these shrines, at least in my opinion, further fuel the flames of gang violence.)  It’s never too late to take control.
Are we doing our best to reject the victim mentality?  Or, are we modeling victimhood to our children?  When was the last time you rolled down your car window and had a talk with a bully bothering your or someone else’s child?  When was the last time you helped a police investigation after witnessing a crime?  And, when was the last time you voted so you can have a say in how responsive your government ought to be?  You have much more power than you realize.  Take control.  Now.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Ground Rules

It is a bit odd that I've joined the ranks of bloggers considering my past criticism of blogs and bloggers.  So, as this blog begins to take shape, I want to share my philosophy, approach and self-imposed standards.  Here they are:

  • I'm a huge fan of newspapers. I buy them, read them and enjoy waking up to them every morning.  In no way, shape or form do I see any blog as a substitute.  (Please keep reading and supporting your local papers.)
  • My posts are MY thoughts, reflections and opinions.  I don't claim to be objective, fair or informative.  I only hope to be consistent, honest and constructive.
  • I have been known to be passionate about everything I do.  This blog is not likely to be the exception, and I make no apologies for what I write. 
  • I will never lie, and I will always take responsibility for what I write.
  • No subject is off limits.  I may write about my childhood, my city, politics, raising children, race, schools, immigration, the environment, the workplace, etc.  Yeah, it's my blog.
  • I welcome readers' comments (critical and otherwise) but racist, hateful and uncivil remarks are expressly not welcome. 
  • Oh, and a note to my friends who live and die by the AP style:  I will try my best, but I do hope to relax a bit.  Good content is my first priority.
  • Lastly, I make the rules, so I reserve the right to change them at any time.  Did I mention it's MY blog?
That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shy and Reserved Who?

Those who know me will scoff at the name I chose for this blog.  They know me as outspoken and opinionated.  They know me as a vocal and active advocate, always trying to influence a decision, an outcome or a condition.  Hopefully they see me as someone whose motivation is to make a positive impact on the world, which of course depends on what they consider positive, but that's another day's blog posting.

So, what's the deal with the blog's name?  Believe it or not, I once was very shy.  I remember when my parents asked me to walk to the corner store and buy a newspaper at age 5 or 6.  I dutifully went only to stand outside the store, look in to see half a dozen people at the checkout and walk right back home.  I couldn't bear the thought of walking in there and talking to anyone.  Yes, I once was painfully shy.

What happened to cure me of this awful affliction?  Life happened.  Life in the streets of East Beirut and later in a foreign land.  Fear, joy, few successes, many failures, and great teachers, chief among them was my amazingly courageous father.  I realized a few years after his passing that so much of me comes from him--the good and the bad--and so much of my evolution and growth was due to his deliberate coaching and constant mentoring.  Without his influence, I'd still be very much that little girl too terrified to walk into the corner store. 

I will say much more about him in this blog in the coming days and months, but for now, I'll say this:  Think about who your coaches are or have been.  Are you coaching anyone to repay what you owe?  If you think you did it all without any help, think again.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why now?

I have been writing and speaking for other people my entire career.  Today, I am 40 years old, and I am making this pledge:  I will come out of the shadows and take ownership of my words.  My search for MY WAY of changing the world goes on, but as I search, I will put my thoughts out there hoping to begin making a small but positive impact.