Thursday, September 23, 2010

Working or Whining ... For Love or Money

Last night, my daughter and I were laughing over some photos in a classic diner where she was guilty of whining where the above sign was present (I believe it may have been the offending onion ring in her basket of fries). Of course, she slowly got over it and had a ketchup-face to prove it.
"Why would I do that?" she asked. "That place is AWESOME!"
Her perspective 5 years later (half of her life) is much different than in the heat of the moment. What she doesn't realize is that those moments have not ended.

Isn't that true for all of us? Being part of an organization that works with and for girls, I can say that those emotional investments are just as strong whether the girl is five or 50 ... they just look a little different. As an adult, we smile as we deal with the childhood drama that seems ever-present with girls. We think of how much they will learn and grow. We shake our heads and laugh (or wring our hands and cry) knowing "it's just a phase." But is it?

I say all this to confess. I think I'm guilty of whining. See? I can't even say it without "I think" because it's embarrassing as an adult to admit to whining. But the fact of the matter is that I'm stressed, overwhelmed, frazzled and burned-out (and those around me know it). Inside myself, I'm whining because I don't want to be stressed. I can't meet all the demands. There's more in front of me than I ordered ... and I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT SOMETIMES. Instead of withdrawing with crossed arms and pouts on the counter of a diner, I'm burying myself in work while others are out enjoying life around me. Just swap out that corn dog with a computer and I'm in her shoes!

But a $5 charge for whining isn't going to make it better. In fact, I think it would make it worse. What's it going to take for me to just "pick up that hot dog" and enjoy it bite by bite? Regardless of productivity strategies, policies, ultimatums, rewards or consequences, there's something much more powerful.

I read a quote this morning that drew me back into purpose (an ever present pursuit).
"Work is love made visible." ~Kahlil Gibran

Let's be honest. Life isn't easy ... And it isn't getting any easier. Work is the same way. So why am I working? My heart leaps a little when I read that quote. I just have to say it again. Work is love made visible. YES! Work is my way of contributing to the world through whatever gifts are in my hands. More specifically, being part of something that honors the spirit of girls (and even women) to discover who they are and give them wings to become who they want to be.

Like my ten year old daughter, I look at the picture of myself whining and say, "Why would I do that? That place is AWESOME!" I pull my big-girl perspective of "work is love made visible" close to me as I head for the office.
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