Sunday, December 12, 2010

holiday welcome

We also often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, over-reacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally.....Tenzin Gyatso
this is the my second year working at the hospital, but the first year on the main campus. i work 1/2 time each at 2 clinics in 2 separate buildings, with 2 distinct teams. each has its specialty and both work with an extremely large number of persons without insurance, low health literacy, multiple illnesses and conditions, many of whom are homeless. needless to remark that sometimes the work can seem endless.

in one of the clinics, i realized that there was no recognition of the holiday-i.e a potluck or party scheduled. i made a few inquiries, then spent a few hours gathering consensus and planned a get-together for this coming week. i had included as many departments as i could, came upon some compromises, disseminated the info to all teams for collaboration, emailed the team leaders for okay, then sent out an invitation. i felt pretty good about how easily it had gone.

but then 3 days later, a co-worker came up to me and asked why we were having the party in the location decided. i retorted that a consensus had been reached. she responded with the notion that they were always in a different location and would be much better there. she then asked if i had started a sign-up sheet. i replied with a no- that people could just bring what they wanted. again, she offered that this strategy would never work and that people needed a sign up sheet. i guess i got a little miffed, but her tone was direct and felt intrusive. i asked her if she would like to take the thing over. she said she would.

i found myself angry, not because i wasn't in charge, but because i felt ignored really. i didn't (and still don't) have any real jones to take charge here. i just wanted people to get-together and have a few smiles during what will no doubt be a very tough week for us. but here i found myself, feeling slighted because someone disagreed with me. so i went to work the following day, after i found my head and heart spinning in the shower about the whole situation, complete with the intention of making an amends to her.

that morning at the other clinic, my supervisor shared with me that she would be taking time off work during this clinic's holiday pot-luck and was putting me in charge of organizing this one. of course, she asked if i would mind. but really, how else am i supposed to respond besides- of course.

so imagine my humility when i go to the afternoon clinic to make my amends, i have been validated by my morning supervisor and given a voice, and now i was set to eat some humble pie. and i felt good about it. so i asked my afternoon co-worker if we could talk. we stepped away and i asked her to understand that i regretted getting upset about her criticism. i didn't have an emotional investment about the party, i had just felt that i had covered my bases and then she burst that bubble.

she kindly informed me that she had been fired from the committee that morning. our supervisor had informed her that she overstepped her role as assistant and took it over. she then said that she has a habit of doing this in her life. this was just another example. she liked me and she said she didn't want any animosity between us. she also laughingly said that when she told her sister she was fired from the committee and that it was a 1st for her, her sister replied that my co-worker had been kicked out of bars and out of family members homes before, so this was completely in line.

her grace and humility and welcoming reception of our conversation punctuated my week. i am very thankful that i feel accepted here. i realize once again that a first glance, a first look a first encounter is not indicative of the whole enchilada. a relationship, a painting, a any work of  art worth its salt, is comprised of many, many such instants, glances, and brushstrokes in order to get the final product. i am reminded that not over-reacting is my first order of business- always.