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Friday, August 3, 2012

Sewing For Soldiers With Missing Limbs/Choose Ice Cream

Friday, the weekend looms again. Singing tonight and Sunday - no plans for date night, Saturday. Might take myself to a movie or a play. Last night Landmark Forum again, but this time a seminar series that's included free as follow up to the Forum that I attended a week+ ago. Didn't even know about these ten additional sessions until last week - a) that they were included in the original cost and b) that they're considered an important part of the education. And today I'm processing the whole thing - feeling crabby but not wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I hate being muscled into anything. The seminar series was presented as useful, fun, add-on activities with the impression that you could pick and choose the ones you felt were applicable to your life (family, work, etc). We were encouraged to attend and hey, it's free. So went last night and saw my new friends which was nice -  it's really different riding the elevator with a bunch of people who you know their deepest, darkest secrets. Instant warmth and tenderness when you smile at someone whose struggles and suffering you have witnessed. I think we were all surprised at the intensity and expectations of the seminar leader. He laid down the rules - you will attend all sessions, re-arrange your life, call if an emergency precludes your attendance. And they took it a step further and presented a document that said something to the effect that we were committed to coming and following all the rules. This coupled with the first assignment which is "to unfailingly keep your word" created an atmosphere designed to corral us into acquiescence.

When someone tells me I have to do something, draws a line in the sand, gets in my face, I push back. I am not a cooperative cow - I would be the one making a break for it while the rest of the cattle allowed themselves to be corralled and fed into the meat grinding chute. It all got my back up. The presenter was not very good - spent a lot of time just reading the material. The time commitment of ten days was not something to be agreed to lightly. I needed more time to assess and decide. So, on the form, I put "undecided" and refused to sign my name to a promise I might regret. And yet, the material is good, the assignments definitely have merit, my teammates are amazing and inspirational.  Hmmmmm...so what to do. I hate mind games. Hate that he was bullying and threw down the gauntlet, "You're either in all the way or not. And if you're not, take your badge off and leave right now and give it to the gal at the back of the room."  How shaming is that!? Can you imagine being the person who stood at that moment, in the spotlight of shame, and stripped your badge off and left? They know that just the thought of that is chilling and would require a "I don't give a shit" bravery that most people (including me) don't have.

So I refused to comply with any of it.  Didn't make the promise. Didn't leave when he threw down the "all in" gauntlet. Refused to be muscled and bullied. I expect a phone call today from the leader if he reads my form (I even said, "so far I'm not that impressed").  I expect mind games from them - designed to get me to fall in line. I will turn their mind games on themselves and make an "unreasonable request" (that's a Landmark expression) - that they give me more time to evaluate the program before committing fully. I will, in a charming way, ask them to make an exception to their black and white rules - that's acting powerfully which is what Landmark is all about. Anyway, yuck. It's a great education with tools for living that are powerful and effective, but the mind games? Their sales tactics!? Really, they could do so much better. It takes a strong person to stand up to them and tell them when they're on bullshit (that's a Madeleine expression). If any of you are considering the program, be prepared to push back when they are obnoxious. It's OK. We are not sheep and the irony is that they don't want us to be and yet, much of what they do feels like herding.

No great thoughts for today - happy these days, working the lists, dieting going great, knees are wonderful, going to start working on the Burt and Barbra show this weekend, loving my home office, loving my friends and girls, making out with Joey the dog every day (we kiss and cuddle - who needs a man), enjoying the flirting with the seven OK Cupid guys, doing OK with putting P. in the past where he belongs, and more. Yesterday I finally joined the Women's Club of Evanston. Had to pick a committee to be on - I chose Welfare Sewing. We will knit and make layettes for underprivileged moms and their new babies and we will also alter clothing for wounded soldiers who come back from war with missing limbs.

Challenge today could be thinking about how you handle coercion and strong-arm tactics. It takes grit to turn the tables on a person who's trying to manipulate you. If you're presented with option A or B, doesn't mean you have to accept either of them. Imagine someone coming up to you and saying, "Sir, would you like the castor oil or the anchovie paste?" If you're a sheep, you feel like you have to choose one - they are the options given after all. My response? "Who are you - explain yourself and where you derive the authority to make this request. If you can convince me why one of these choices is in my best interest, I will consider your options, or perhaps I could suggest, Option C? Ice cream?" That would be on a good day. On a bad day, I'd probably belittle him, make him cry and then walk away.


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