WordFood - how we feed or starve our realtionships

- Julia Hubbel

Julia’s ability to get this group of type-A executives to engage in true networking was incredible. She is truly skilled at motivating the group to engage and interact with each other, and her openness and honesty really come through.

— Shelley Stewart, Jr.,
Senior Vice President of Operational Excellence and Chief Procurement Officer, Tyco

September 29, 2014

The Beneficial WordFood of “NO”

At an all day Diversity & Inclusion Program last week, I met a lovely woman who was having a challenge with her sixteen year old daughter. As their speaker, I was on an hour break, and she  asked me for my thoughts since she knew I was an equestrian. She  wanted to know whether she should buy her daughter  a $50k show horse.

As you can guess, it was far more complex than this. This woman, a secretary, is married to a mechanic. The daughter, who is a fine competitor, has worked her way up in the very elite world of show jumping. She also wants to attend Baylor University. She also hangs out with an elite crowd of rich girls her age for whom a $50k horse is a drop in the bucket.

When pressed, this young mother admitted that the daughter, who, to her credit, had worked hard at the barns to earn her way up til now. But she was starting to make comments about their pedestrian transportation compared to the Beamers and Caddies that her friends drove.

Internally I smiled, and remembered that my dad, at best, earned about $20k a year when I was growing up, and I got a “salary” of $5.25 a week, from which I had to pay for all my horse related goodies. He shouldered the vet bills, shoeing, all costs I couldn’t bear. But I worked from the time I was four years old on my dad’s farm, and from that, learned what money could and couldn’t buy.

We had a good heart to heart about boundaries and limitations, and the toxic nature of the rich crowd this young woman was now hanging out with. At sixteen, there’s no telling where her whims would take her next. My suggestion was to offer her the horse OR Baylor, or suggest that she take on some jobs so that she can pay for one or the other. Otherwise her working class family could well end up with a very expensive horse, a huge college bill  and a daughter off with another new passion. It’s just that age.

We love our kids and want them to do well. But setting realistic boundaries and requiring them to earn what they have forces them to understand how much $50,000 really is. That’s one heck of a lot of money. Not to her friends. And while that may embarrass this sixteen year old, it does require her to take ownership of her real conditions, and not demand that her parents to pay for a lifestyle that is wholly unrealistic. Many competitors have had to patch their breeches to keep going. If that causes her shame, let her work, and bask in the pride that such hard work brings. In this case, “No” is WordFood of the highest kind. It feeds the fire of self sufficiency, of making the kinds of hard choices that come to all of us later in life.  For her rich friends, such material hard choices don’t exist.

This may not seem like such a gift to a kid of sixteen. After all her effort to get where she is as an equestrian, it may feel like a setback. But this is life and it’s full of evaluations and choices.  If we always get what we want, then when we get one of life’s first big NOs we truly aren’t prepared. And as parents, it’s our job to help our young ones learn to deal with disappointments. It’s called character building.

In a case like this, NO has a lot to do with love your child enough, and trusting your gut enough, to do what’s right for the long haul.

September 16, 2014

We Speak With Our Feet

Over the last few years I’ve been taking riding lessons at a place called Cottonwood here in the Denver area. Suffice it to say that Colorado is horse country, and there are a lot of stables. I was referred to this facility through a mutual friend, and for the most part was pretty happy with it.

I say “pretty happy” because there were some drawbacks. On one hand the instructors didn’t stay for long. The other drawback was the owner, who has the unfortunate characteristic of publicly dressing you down if she didn’t like what you were doing. Didn’t matter who you were, how old you were, what you were paying to be there. If she didn’t happen to like something,  she would take out her fury on you at full volume,  treat you as though you had the brains of a caterpillar, and make sure everyone in a mile radius knew about it.

The first time this happened  I was simply appalled. What kind of an owner treats paying customers like this? I later found my sense of humor, wrote it off and got over it. However, I made sure that I stayed out of this woman’s way as much as possible. As my instructors always said, “Tara’s barn, Tara’s rules,” which were capricious at best. Avoidance worked til last Thursday.

This past May I came home from Nepal with girardia, which just got diagnosed.  In addition I’ve been riding bareback saddle pad which was fine on some horses but not on others, whose rougher trot caused me considerable pain and bleeding. Thursday I was both in pain and ill, and I had put on a saddle for the first time this year. I was sliding and slipping and frustrated, in pain and annoyed at myself and my physical condition . In addition my young instructor was nagging at me for the second time that week- for reasons unbeknownst to me. Her horse had died the previous Sunday, she was angry and hurt and no wonder. She was taking it out on me, and the two of us were having a rough day. Not an impossible one, but we were a little short tempered.

Add to this inside the big internal ring, the owner’s habit of riding around and around, back and forth, this way and that, wholly unpredictably, so that not only do I not have a clue where she’s going or what she’s doing I end up stopping completely so that I don’t run into her. She lays into me at full volume, on and on and on and on and ON, without the courtesy of asking what might be the matter. Tara’s dressing me down the way you might a three year old kid who’s smeared food on the wall. I’m at least fifteen years older than she is. I grew up saying Ma’am to my elders. And betters. It’s a spectacle indeed.

A sane person with a modicum of decency might quietly pull us both aside and inquire as to why we were complaining at each other.  While I have compassion for whatever is causing her so much pain she must take her fury out on others, my riding boots and bucks belong elsewhere.

I fired Cottonwood,  and wrote the kind of Yelp review they had coming.  You do not shame, punish and verbally abuse customers. You do not take out your personal damage on clients. Anyone even thinking about Cottonwood should be forewarned.

Our mutual friend argues that Tara is strong. I’ve build women’s networks out of powerful, incredible women. They were also immensely humble, compassionate and gracious. These are the precise characteristics that made them strong.

Emotional maturity is born of our ability to take what life has handed us and turn it into gifts, not grandiosity. Every truly strong woman I know isn’t the least bit arrogant or hateful.

We all have the right to put ourselves into healthy, nurturing environments where we are fed the kind of WordFood that develops us. If you find yourself around someone whose self hatred spills out in toxicity, leave as soon as possible. You cannot do their work for them, but you can improve your quality of life.

September 9, 2014

WordFood You Can’t Consume

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 5:29 pm

As many of us who love the game of football found out on Monday, there is apparently one very large conspiracy going on within the NFL. A cover up about what they, Commissioner Goodell, the judicial system of Atlantic City and the Ravens Nations knew way back in February about the unrelentingly brutal attack that RB Ray Rice perpetrated on his then-fiancee, now wife Janay. For the last two days, along with millions of others, I’ve listened to a great many analysts, read too many columns and heard a lot of mealy-mouthed owners and senior executives  who sound precisely like the Nixon regime back in the Watergate days. The coverup is always worse than the incident, although in this case the incident is pretty awful indeed.

No one who loves the game as much as I do is foolish enough to believe that the supremely talented young men taken off the streets are untainted. As the League continues to recruit from often questionable sources for pure raw talent, it also ends up with what is also a collection of gang members and people of questionable character, a point raised today on the NFL Channel. Well, right now it’s not just the players who are on display. It’s John Harbaugh making a spineless and wholly unbelievable statement to the press, it’s Commissioner Goodell speaking carefully coached statements about when he saw the original video which everyone else but he saw, apparently, before Monday. No one believes him, including me.

Long time beloved and trusted owners are being quoted as trying to hold up Goodell’s choices. In a world of the kind of transparency and access we live in today, the words of all these so called leaders and heroes are so much sawdust. Those of us who did our best to enjoy Monday Night Football double header were overwhelmed by the Ray Rice story, and we still are, because we care about the game, the players and domestic violence. We care about character and honesty and stand up guys.

Unfortunately, nothing the NFL says right now, or going forward, is trustworthy. Nothing that Commissioner Goodell is worth the air it’s taking up. And Harbaugh, who has a teenaged daughter, who said that Rice was such a great guy, should be deeply ashamed.

These people and their worthless WordFood to their legions of fans have let us all down. Now we have to question all our heroes and wonder what happens behind closed doors- what else has the NFL lied about besides concussions and spousal abuse? If the NFL wants us to love them again, they have to regain our trust. Women fans like me, who are as rabid as any beer swilling, tailgate grilling guy in a Broncos parking lot Sunday at noon, we care, we want answers.  Or you can keep your $100 jerseys.

September 1, 2014

WordFood Verstatility in a Diverse Country

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Julia Hubbel @ 5:59 pm

In early August I found myself in the top bunk of a girls’ dorm at the Glenwood Springs Hostel, surrounded by a bevy of females from all over the world. They came from China, Japan, Russia, Croatia, Jamaica, far-flung countries. The hostel owner had actually shut down the place for the summer to board these girls so that they could work and go to school but my reservation had slipped in under the wire. Lucky me, I had a three day kayaking trip planned, and hostels are a lot cheaper than hotels. Besides, what a fascinating group of women.

The days were long and eventful, and as expected I would drag in late. Also as expected (and as warned) the girls were also up late, texting friends back home, and sometimes, as my Russian bunk mate and immediate neighbor would have it, time for loud music. As gently and as politely as I could I asked these women if they would kindly lower their music so that I could sleep as I had a 5 am wakeup call. Begrudgingly, they did. However, when I then thanked them in Russian, they not only burst out in glee, they responded very warmly- and that opened up a different door for us, which we continued the next day at breakfast.

I don’t speak fluent Russian. However I do know a few words. And over my various travels I’ve learned to say hello and thank you and a few other phrases, often complimentary, in a variety of languages ranging from Thai to Korean to Swahili to Vietnamese. As in the scenario at the hostel, I have found that knowing even just a few words  in someone else’s language is such a gift. Whenever I travel I buy a phrasebook, and where possible, I  hire a coach. It’s good to know “where’s the bathroom” to “your country is beautiful” to “I’m injured, I need help.”

For those who don’t travel, we are the host country to many, many immigrants. It behooves us to know Spanish, if nothing else. Mine is workable, as I travel to South America every year. But we also have Sudanese and Vietnamese tribal people and large numbers of others who have come here to make a life. They are part of our culture. Many struggle mightily to learn English.

Today I was standing behind an African woman who was buying a lottery ticket at my local gas station. She turned and looked at me, kindly, and I said to her “Jambo, Mama,” and tipped my head. She looked surprised, then enormously pleased. She spoke to me in her own language, which I did not understand, but the exchange was gracious nonetheless. She is here with her daughter, who does speak English.

It’s hard enough to come to a country and make a life, often having to give up your professional credentials to work at minimum wage to provide for your family. Learning English is tough enough. Many top doctors  make donuts rather than perform brain surgery because the English language is too much. We don’t always appreciate the sacrifices people have to make. A small gesture to learn a word in an immigrant’s language is such a small price to pay to help someone feel welcome in  their new home.

Every time I say kim sa ham ne dah, or “thank you” in Korean to the women who take care of my postal services and my dry cleaning, it is an acknowledgement. It reminds me that I, too have immigrant ancestors who may not have been welcomed. For my part, I’m going to do my best to open my heart and speak welcoming WordFood to the rich cultural gifts that have come and continue to bring variety and color to this great continent.  These wonderful people are constantly reminding me of what I have, and why I value it so much.

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