Monday, May 31, 2010

Grace

My sister has been reading the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I have not read it yet, but as soon as she is finished I am going to borrow it. It has been getting absolutely rave reviews and now I hear they are making it into a movie starring Julia Roberts, so it is definitely on the Hollywood radar.

Anyway, my sister has really enjoyed the book, mostly because of its simple yet eloquent writing style. Recently, she read me one of her favorite passages, which references the significance of yoga. Essentially, the author was describing her appreciation of yoga poses as an opportunity to hold your body with poise and grace.

I have never taken a yoga class. Both of my sisters have practiced yoga at various times in their lives, including prenatal yoga. Even the Boy will periodically go to yoga classes. Of course, he admits that he started taking the classes as a way to meet women, but then he began to recognize the other benefits for his body and mind.

The concept of yoga makes me uncomfortable. I am one of those people who is constantly on the go. Doing things and then checking them off of my list. The idea of sitting in a room quietly for an hour while going through various body motions is completely foreign to me. If I want to exercise, I'll go to the gym and lift some weights.

Evidently, I am missing one of the main ingredients that yoga requires: patience. But despite my lack of yoga experience, I could really relate to that passage from the book. Poise and grace are such beautiful words, representing something that we should all aspire to be.

In stark contrast to my sister's reading selection, I have been reading Are You There God? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. If anyone has watched her show or read her books, you know that Chelsea is absolutely hilarious. One of the reasons I think we all appreciate Chelsea is that she speaks her mind. And she says and does things that most of us don't have the guts to do. But I think even Chelsea herself would agree that 'grace' is not a word that would commonly be used to describe her personality.

Lately I have been feeling a lot like Chelsea. I have always prided myself on the fact that I am a pretty direct person. And in many situations, that has been a good thing. But sometimes I am afraid that I have become too eager to espouse my own opinions and perhaps that has had a polarizing effect on my social relationships.

And I am not the only one who has this problem. It seems that society in general has grown too tolerant of people just letting it all hang out. Polite political disagreements have been reduced to angry shouting matches on the evening news. Women are clawing at each other to compete for one man's affection on reality dating shows. Whether it is on television or driving down the street in my neighborhood, everyone seems to have lost their manners.

Last week, I was leaving the McDonalds drive-thru and a woman abruptly pulled out of the side parking lot and almost crashed into the front of my car. In this scenario I clearly had the right of way and she did not even look to see me coming. When I honked my horn at her, she turned her head out the car window and boldly gave me the finger. And as she was doing so, she nearly crashed again into a truck that was backing out of a parking space in front of her.

I was absolutely enraged. In what world does it make sense for someone to pull out in front of you and almost hit your car and then act as if it were your fault? If anything, she should have given me the hand wave out her window to indicate that she was sorry.

As I was driving back to work after that incident, I thought about that woman's reaction to the situation. I could not shake the image of little Miss Bleach Blond Hair and Sunglasses giving me the finger. But then I also started to think about my own reaction. Whether or not I was in the right, which in my opinion I clearly was, did it really matter? Maybe I could have also handled the situation differently.

Conflicts exist because both parties have something to prove. In contrast, grace stems from an inner sense of peace. It is a zen-like state where you do not need to prove anything, because you are comfortable in your own skin. And that comfort allows you to be generous to others because in doing so, you are not inherently taking anything away from yourself.

I guess what I am saying is that I would like to bring more poise and grace into my life. And my new found desire could not come at a more opportune time.

As I have mentioned, the Daughter is coming to town next week to test her database. The mere thought of spending three days locked in a room with a woman that I have come to despise has been stressing me out beyond comprehension. While I would love to present myself as the picture perfect Client Director, I just don't feel like I am there right now.

My house is still in disarray from the kitchen renovation and I have been doing everything I can just to hold things together at work. Each day I become more acutely aware of the fact that I do not belong at the Company and that I do not understand this job. So, I have decided the only way I am going to get through those few days with grace and poise is to fake it.

I am already picturing in my head all of the most elegant and graceful women to use as my inspiration. There are the classics like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O., but they are symbols from my mother's generation. The modern day examples that come to mind are Anne Hathaway, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston. These women always seem to hold things together, even under harsh public scrutiny.

In my search for inspiration, I find there are many sources that are much closer to home. For example, I have a girlfriend who I used to work with before I started at the Company. She is a beautiful woman with a Ph.D and a wardrobe that would put Michelle Obama's to shame. And she is by far one of the classiest women I have ever known.

When placed in an environment where her professional qualifications were minimized and personal attacks were frequent, she never chose to retaliate. When it became apparent that things were not going in her favor, she gave proper notice and left with her dignity in tact. Whenever we talk about all of the inappropriate and potentially illegal things that went on in that organization, she shakes her head and says "You know, we must always behave well."

They say that you should pick your battles wisely. Which works fine, until the battle shows up at your door - or in my case, your office. While we may not always be able to choose our battles, we can choose our weapons. I have decided to use grace as a shield to protect my soul from the evils of the corporate world.

So, when I go to work on Wednesday I am going to put on a nice dress, my good jewelry and some lipstick. When the Daughter and her team arrive, I will float into the room greeting everyone with a friendly handshake and a smile. No matter what that woman says to me or how many veiled threats or insults she hurls my way, I will just politely acknowledge each statement and move on about my business.

It will be the acting performance of my life. I really hope I can pull it off. But more importantly, I want to use this experience as a launching point to start living my life with poise and grace. It takes about two months of doing something consistently to form a habit. So until it becomes second nature to me, I guess I'll just have to keep faking it.

And maybe I will sign up for a yoga class.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I call it putting on your big girl panties and getting the job done.