Me and My Cruddy Attitude

I’m leaving soon for 5 weeks in China and the process of departure has been interesting to say the least. Storms blew through last weekend and knocked out electricity in the area, so all of our last minute preparations were done with a high level of inconvenience. It is the second time in a year we have lost power for 5 days, the last time being after Hurricane Irene hit.

One would think that as I am preparing to be highly inconvenienced in China that the experience stateside might be welcomed as extra preparation. But that is hardly the case. What I’m prepared to welcome in Kashgar I am NOT prepared to welcome here.

  • Uncomfortable heat with no fan or a/c.
  • Lack of Internet access.
  • Very limited cell phone use.
  • Inability to store food I want where I live.
  • Grumpy children.

Last fall when this happened, if felt like an adventure, as if it were my chance to be supermom. The board games by candlelight came with ease, the creative meals made of non-perishables flew out of my imagination! But this time around just had an edge. It was much hotter, I had more pressing need to get things done that required internet and phone, and the kids did not have the thrill of missing school like they did last time. This time, it was just a big old bummer. And it was all about the attitude. I see it in the contrast between the last outage and this one. And I see it in my ability to welcome all these inconveniences for the sake of experiencing another part of the world and my inability to welcome it here. It’s all about posture one takes towards the situations.

Part of our preparation for being in Kashgar includes learning a good entry posture for new situations. In other words, coming in to a new situation with curiosity, adaptability and openness rather than skepticism or superiority. My experience in the last week throws in my face how immensely helpful it is to have one’s entry posture in mind in ALL situations, not just the big cross-cultural ones. If I could stay on top of my attitude posture (see link) during experiences like this power outage, I’d be a much more peaceful person. Not only that, I believe that our willingness to have a good entry posture reflects something of God’s posture towards us. And I sure do benefit from that.

What’s your experience of choosing a good entry posture? Or of failing to do so?

(Click here for a link to the Entry Posture Diagram)

 

9 comments


  • Fr Ray Roh OSB

    Janice, there have been some rough patches for me too , especially the past ten days…We can pray for each other..I keep trying to go back to the old adage..”Count Your Blessings” too. No matter what, the Lord loves me and wants me to grow through it all. Is there light at the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train? In faith I want to belive it is the Lord.

    July 5, 2012
  • Laura

    Janice, when I went to Poland on a global project, we were all housed in a dorm-like setting and did a lot of our activities as one big clot, sometimes in a chartered bus. It felt more like an adventure than a challenge. When I went back to Poland on my own a year and a half later…what a different story! I discovered buses that might run early or not at all, foods sold in a market that may not have been what they said they were selling (it was Thanksgiving time and we were looking for turkey–it seemed suspiciously like chicken), very confined living quarters, etc. I did not handle it well it all, I am sad to say… 🙁

    July 5, 2012
  • Michael

    Janice, being your neighbor, also still without power, I can appreciate what you’re saying. What’s helped me is remembering what was actually one of the nice things–not having the conveniences of civilization–when I used to do a lot of backcountry backpacking when I was younger. I don’t think your attitude is THAT bad though. This heat just changes the whole ballgame. I know once when I was hiking along “through” hikers in New England on the Appalachian Trail–people hiking Georgia to Maine. It got this hot and humid and every one of them bailed out for the only time during the journey and got air conditioned motel rooms! Hope you have a fabulous time in China and that the weather is cool!

    July 5, 2012
  • Danny Greenawalt

    Still out of power here in Columbus and it has been rough and frustrating…. and humbling! It would normally be an adventure, but not during week 1 of home ownership while trying to move in and start new jobs.

    Either way, I have been humbled by my dependency on technology. God has given lots of good opportunities to depend on new neighbors, spend quality time together (while sweating), and save money on our first electric bill 😉

    Praying for your trip!

    July 5, 2012
  • Janie Blakely

    This is a timely and interesting inquiry, Janice. While sitting in the dark and heat of the last five evenings without power, several times my thoughts drifted to your blog on rumination. I worked hard to notice and then detour them when I sensed my thoughts looping in the frustration of not being able to change my situation. I was able to to let go to a degree, but not to the degree I would have liked. I spent a lot of energy waiting for the power to return.

    I also thought about the times I lived in South America and South Africa and why I was processing my experience differently here when this sort of inconvenience was prone to happen much more often in those days. I think I came to the conclusion that it seemed more difficult for me here as a result of getting caught up in our cultural perceptions of expectation and entitlement. I think you have drawn out well the importance of the practice of letting go in order to move forward. Gratitude in the face of missed expectations is key. Your blog has me asking myself where I can nuture that in my life—especially as I am fairly certain that the need for change in US society’s expectations of lifestyle will continue to the grow in the face of overall changes in every aspect of our lives.

    PS. You and your travel companions will continue to be in my prayers for safe travel, peace in preparations, new adventures to be had and wonderful new connections to be made.

    July 5, 2012
  • Dave White

    Thanks for this Entry Position Diagram. I am just beginning to counsel Teens with possible substance abuse issues. I like that though there is an obvious cultural difference just due to age, I can still have empathy and understanding by listening and observing. Frustration can result if I have a bad attitude about their attitudes, which is quite understandable. They don’t want to be there and don’t think they have a problem. I have been with homeless men who would rather be somewhere else. I have been with men with DUI’s who would rather be somewhere else. Sometimes I feel the same way, but that actually can help me with counseling The key thing I have found to help such people is not sounding judgmental or be condescending. I present a door for them to enter if they choose. They may not do so while I am working with them, but they may remember that door exists in the future. My attitude, that I am ok with never seeing the mustard seed grow, is essential to my work. Seeing the power come back on is like instant gratification. The hard part is appreciating it while it is working.

    July 6, 2012
  • Cindy Koh

    Sorry to hear about the power outages there. I’ve heard about them in the news, but with the hustle of life here haven’t been able to take the time to appreciate the blockages in others’ roads. I pray you get every bit of resistance training needed out of this time, all the while knowing how difficult it is to be responsible to run a household well. So painful laying down our family on the altar.

    Grumpy children – there’s the other part of the race before us it seems. Carrying others’ attitudes on our backs. One bright moment broke through during our huge wind storms (scary) and power outages (is this food still good?) here months ago. One of our children led the way in understanding perhaps some of the meaning of it all. She said, “You know, I feel safer when storms like this hit and all of the things we usually depend upon are gone.” We knew exactly what she meant, though there wasn’t too much more explanation: safer looking for the foundation that is really on God, and not that built to meet society’s hustling agendas. (The Libor scandal is a case in point of the sandy ground we’re all standing on without knowing it.) Suddenly we all felt the Real Safety that was holding us through it all.

    July 6, 2012
  • Janice, I hope you are saving these blogs for a future book. Lots of pithy advice wrapped up in hard-learned personal lessons. Standing outside the LAX international terminal yesterday listening to the gripes of one of my kids, I realized my attituded had a large part to play in whether he and I saw it as an adventure or a huge inconvenience. Most of the time I did pretty well, but when it got down to the wire and we were in real danger of missing our connecting flight, the roles reversed, and he was the one with the better attitude. Carrying other’s attitudes on our backs (as Cindy wrote) — hmm — how often do we model to our kids how NOT to behave in stressful circumstances, When my kids are tired and grumpy it is so hard to stay positive, and vice-versa.

    July 6, 2012
  • Coli

    The heat is like a pressure cooker that steams you further during power outages. So sorry! But of course your right and the juxtaposition to your trip to China is so beautiful to show how demanding our expectations are here. I can remember a power outage in Hanoi — trying to sleep on the floor (tile is cooler than beds) and the mosquitos buzzing around our heads, feeling the sweat streak down my body. Ick, gives me the heeby jeebies just thinking about it. Meanwhile all our neighbors were outside enjoying the cool(er) outdoors, cranking out sugarcane juice, and visiting with one another. Maybe community is the key to a good entry posture when you can’t just muster it out of yourself? Kind of like the guy who needed his buddies to dig a hole in the roof to get him to J?

    July 9, 2012

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