[Quiet Thoughts] Own Up

Photo: Kinkling dough. Making one more batch tomorrow for my sister. Lord, my arms are tired, but it’s so worth it. Also… I took no pictures this week, so… uh… sorry!


I jumped on a freelance call on Tuesday and had my ass handed to me by a client.

The call went bad almost immediately. I’d been working with a particular person in the organization we’re doing a website design for, and it was time to loop in the boss and the boss was on the call. She (the boss) tee’d up and then hit me with this line: “So, I am not sure that I understand what the purpose of your role is here. Can you tell me what your role is in all of this?”


She critiqued the copywriting I’d done in direct, blistering fashion. She pulled no punches. I was not prepared.

I explained myself, it didn’t seem to matter. I got defensive. She called me on it. I admitted to my defense, owning it fully, explaining how I got to a defensive place in a calm, but deliberate fashion. Then I reverted back to my default position in such situations: non-combat. I wasn’t rude, I wasn’t angry, but I reverted to a place of passivity. “Ultimately, it’s not my copy. It’s yours. Please let me know how I can be supportive.”

It backfired. The boss expressed her dismay at my behavior, then ended up storming off of the call.

I had to apologize to the contact I’d been working with for the prior two weeks. I had put her in a horrible position by pissing off her boss like that. I had to call my freelance boss and explain everything, apologizing profusely, knowing I’d put the contract in jeopardy. Everyone was graceful and forgiving. My freelance boss called the client, extending his own apologies for my behavior. I went about my business, feeling horrible, feeling a little shaken about the strength of my writing. Then my boss called me back.

“She’d like you to give her a call.” 


My Quiet Thoughts are about the moments in time when you’ve just gotta eat it. You’ve gotta own up and face the things you really just don’t want to do. It didn’t feel fair, it certainly wasn’t comfortable, and I absolutely didn’t want to do it, but I made the call and said the words that needed to be said. Neither of us came off the call feeling satisfied: I think the client expected more earnestness, and I expected more grace (and, perhaps, reflection). Instead we got only the necessary: conciliation as foundation for continued production.

I’ve been thinking about this for the rest of the week, and I’ve been thinking about how to translate it for my boys. Apologizing is a skill. It takes sincerity and practice, especially during the times when you feel like you have nothing to apologize for. How do I teach this skill to my boys? How do I make sure that they both practice with authenticity and sincerity, assuring that they will be able to do it well and without my prompting eventually? How do I make sure that sometime between here and adulthood, they learn how to own up to the behavior they can control, yet find the strength to directly face the annoyances and challenges they can’t? How do I make sure they don’t expect to always have a preferred outcome, but may have to settle for something between “total disaster” and just “this sucks, but it’s manageable?” Having been out of the workforce for 7 years, I thought I’d forgotten how to navigate such situations. What I learned instead is that some things just don’t change, and some skills simply don’t leave you.

It took two days to fully shake it off. I had to go back to her notes, had to really reflect on her critique. As a writer, I’m always learning how to better prepare for and respond to the notes that people give me. You have to sift through the information, accepting some notes, rejecting others, always finding at least one note to really hone in on and use for growth. Still, sometimes it just straight up hurts. It took two days to come out of the funk. But I learned enough to be more successful on the second attempt. There were still notes, but it was far more productive during my call yesterday. Am I delighted that this project with eventually end? Yes. Am I equally delighted that I live to fight another day? Yes.

Interruptions happen. Sometimes, you think you’re on the right path and you get knocked on your ass. Sometimes, you think you’re on the wrong path and you are pleasantly surprised instead. A bag of tricks and skills are helpful along the way. Being able to stop, own up, and pick up after you get knocked down is one of them.

It’s a night that is cold, but clear, and full of dates left over from Wednesday. Precipitation comes on the morrow. Warm temperatures threaten us with a good time mid-week. It’s fool’s gold for sure. February is not a spring month. But we take what we can get, Dear Reader. I’m not complaining.

On this chilly Friday night, I have wishes for you. I wish you yeasty, buttery goodness. I can’t believe I’m going to fry my 9th batch of kinklings tomorrow. May your yeasty, hearty, buttery bread be warm in your hands, tender in your mouth, delightful to your stomach. I wish you productivity. Tackle one stalled thing this weekend. Just get it done and clear it from your long list of things to do. I wish you snuggle time and wrapped blankets. Winter isn’t over, Dear Reader! Embrace the warmth of someone dear, indulge in fuzzy socks and soft blankets! I wish you a story that enlightens, a fact or concept that you’d didn’t know, and the opportunity to teach something new to someone in your life. Don’t stop learning, Dear Reader, and don’t forget to pass your knowledge to someone else in the world. I wish you a lit candle, a little time to reflect in silence, and a time to retreat from your head and into your heart. Even if you aren’t the praying type, I wish you the opportunity to find your own personal call to action. Seek a little inspiration this weekend, Dear Reader, and note the source of it. What stirs your spirit, and compels you to create? I wish you civil engagement, and full participation in this incredible democracy. If you’re feeling helpless about what happened in Florida, if you’re feeling fed up and raw, turn your anxious anger into action. Get in touch, lend your talents and treasures, demand through participation. Become the change, Dear Reader. Become a force of nature.

As always, I wish you the affirmation of your infinite beauty. Look in the mirror and really see yourself this weekend, Dear Reader. Acknowledge your personal grace. Acknowledge your strength and skill. You are loved beyond measure. What you do in this world had power and meaning that echoes and ripples through space and time. You are admired from near and far, with people thinking about you, praying for you, telling stories of your accomplishments. Honor their faith in you by walking proudly this weekend, Dear Reader. Shine your light brightly.

Until Monday, take care.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Aargh. That sounds miserable. I got called out yesterday by a boss for being “grumpy”. We’ve been handed a totally new way to do most of our job, have no choice in the matter and I can’t see any up sides to the change. So yes, I’m grumpy and annoyed. When my boss said it I agreed. (Why doesn’t agreement in such situations ever seem to assuage bosses?) The very skills countless articles, self help books and hours of therapy teach us about accepting our truth, acknowledging our feelings rather than pretending they don’t exist etc. are liabilities in the workplace. There it’s all about falling in line and being a compliant, cheerful cog (while also innovating and being proactive). Frustrating. Sorry I made this comment about my week, it felt relevant.

    Oh, as for teaching the boys. I don’t have an answer, but as an adult the Serenity Prayer helps. Maybe it would give you a place to start with them.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      I love the Serenity Prayer. I should say it more often.
      I’m sorry about the new policies at work. I hope that you ease into them (or don’t. Lord knows I’m always down for some sweet, sweet rebellious behavior!).

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