Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

Do you arrive empty-handed? June 30, 2015

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When invited to someone’s home for a meal, a party, a cocktail, an event, even if the host/hostess tells you that you don’t need to bring anything, do you arrive empty-handed?

As a rule, I always bring something. If I am not required to contribute a dish in a pot-luck setting, and am not asked to bring my own wine, I still bring an extra bottle for the hosts, something I have baked, flowers, a kitchen gadget, some artfully arranged and colorful dishcloths, a book, a toy for the family pet, something!

When I receive guests, I am surprised to see that I usually get nothing, except from one or two close friends who always bring something nice. I don’t entertain very often. My house is small and it’s difficult to find a date when my husband is at home and not out riding his motorcycle and our potential guests are available to come over. I also cherish my privacy and quiet time. But when I do, I can plan, prepare and serve a kickass brunch for 10, supper for 8 and the food will be good, the table will be beautiful, everyone will eat at the same time, their meal will be hot and there will be plenty for everyone.

And yet I usually receive no hostess gift to thank me for my hospitality, my food, and the effort I put into making it an overall great experience.

Is the host/hostess gift a dying tradition? Has etiquette changed? Or do most of my guests simply not care?

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Or maybe I just wasn’t listening? August 16, 2014

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I sometimes feel like my husband no longer hears or registers what I say anymore. I make conversation, tell stories, talk about things, and the very next day or even just a few hours later, he will mention the same facts as if it was the first time, or act completely surprised if he walks in as I’m telling them to someone else.

To quote the late Robin Williams: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”

When we first met, he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I remember conversations, laughter, interesting banter, insight, sharing private jokes. He seemed to drink in my every word and as I recall, he participated, talked, shared, laughed and was completely present.

Or maybe I just wasn’t listening?

Maybe I was doing all the talking, the joking, and filling in the silence with banter, and ideas, and monologues about the many things that interest, surprise, shock and amaze me? Maybe I was so into it, or so into me, that I never even noticed the glazed over look in his eyes or the fact that he had not said much of anything the entire time?

Maybe I didn’t notice him looking over my shoulder, behind me, around me, anywhere but at me when we were out on a romantic dinner together? Maybe it was just my imagination when I thought that he kept looking into my eyes, at my smile, that he only had eyes for me.

Maybe I was too wrapped up in myself to realize that he didn’t share anything deep or significant. Maybe I was too involved in my thoughts to notice that he only shared positive things about himself, never a vulnerable moment, never a bad moment, never a shadow of doubt.

Or maybe I just wasn’t listening? Maybe I have changed in the same way? I don’t think so; I think I’ve simply become quieter, as a result of feeling that I am not heard.

My world is lonely this week. I have cried three times about Robin Williams’ death, about the pain he was in, and about how he chose to leave us, or how depression, fear and anxiety told him to go. My tribe is mourning and its members have expressed in their own words that they feel like me, as if we’ve lost a family member. Of course, we did not know Robin personally. But we still felt as if we did, because he was part of our tribe.

And if the funniest man in the world can’t make it, we wonder how are we are supposed to keep on going?

I know my husband doesn’t understand why I am so upset about this loss. But I don’t understand that he doesn’t understand. It’s a tribe thing, I guess.

Or maybe I’m just too wrapped up in myself?

 

Big decision number 3 – Not worrying about what other people think February 10, 2013

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I had an AHA moment during my recent trip to Cuba in January, when I turned to my husband and said “That’s it! That is my Big Decision Number 3. Please remind me to blog about this when we get back.” Well, of course either he completely forgot or he wasn’t really listening (I vote for option 2), and I really need to carry a pen and paper around or something so I can write, even when I’m on a tropical vacation, because whatever it was slipped my mind as well.

Of course, at the moment I was still angry at him for acting like a toddler and having a temper tantrum about an outing we were supposed to book while on vacation, so perhaps it wasn’t really a Big Decision, but more an immediate reaction to the situation.

No matter, Big Decision Number 3 snuck up on me on its own, perhaps with the help of Big Decisions 1 and 2 that required much effort on my part and are still ongoing. This time, it was natural.

Big Decision Number 3 is not to worry about what other people think, or at least worry less about it. Not that I am obsessed with what other people think. I’m able to be silly, even in public, laugh at myself and I’m not that easily embarrassed. But I have always been self-conscious, and believed that people watch me and see just about everything that I do. In reality, most people are quite oblivious to what is going on around them. Unless it involves them directly, they mostly don’t give a crap.

This may sound silly, but feeling like this has kept me from trying or doing many things, and I’m sure I missed out on quite a few opportunities specifically because of this tendency to be so self-conscious, unsure, much too preoccupied with what other people might think, and afraid.

Well, today I can honestly say that I don’t feel like people are watching me. Also, I don’t really care what they think if they are looking at me. I had proof of that just last week when I brought my lunch to the research center on Tuesday and the only plastic bowls that I had to mix my oatmeal and my soup in were a Carmen Campagne bowl for little kids and a Disney Princess bowl, both very flashy and ridiculously juvenile. Normally, I would have waited for the staff kitchen to be empty to prepare my meals and wash my bowls. This time I didn’t even give it a thought. I marched right into the full staff kitchen and did my thing in full view of all the young lab employees, without a care in the world. I OWNED my silly kid bowls and did not care.

This may seem like nothing to you, but it was a significant step forward for me.

As a reminder:

Big Decision 1: Severing ties with a major client.

Big Decision 2: Letting go.

Big Decision 3: Not worrying about what other people think.

Stay tuned for Big Decision Number 4!