Monday, April 7, 2008

caring less and running more

I’m trying to care less these days. I tend to get really worked up about things that just aren’t that important, and sometimes really don’t affect me at all. Last week I sort of had an a-ha moment: I was riding the bus back from Joburg and everything was going fine until the communication debacle started on this end. It doesn’t matter what it has to do with, whenever I return from Joburg there is always some kind of miscommunication about something. And I let it get to me, assuming in my mind that other people are getting just as worked up as I am – that the altercation is eating up their insides and ruining a perfectly good evening like I let it do to me. I didn’t let myself count to ten and I got upset with Letebele, the driver who came to pick me up – he kept calling someone else instead of me to try and locate exactly where I was! Anyway, I was rude and when we were finally on the road back to Turkey, I of course started feeling remorse. I was stewing and I knew I just needed to apologize and let it go if I was going to move past this silly moment in time. So I asked Letebele if I could talk to him – we had been sitting in silence for about 20 minutes so far. He said of course and I apologized and told him there was no excuse for the way I handled myself. Without batting an eye, he said it was no problem and that he had already forgotten about it. Really?! That easily? I envied him at that moment – I decided that my previous annoyances with this man weren’t worth it, I could actually learn from him. He could have cared less about this little white girl princess who has a hard time adjusting to the different communication styles and who let’s herself get all wrapped up in a tizzy. He was probably just thinking about his home, wife, baby and what was for dinner. So I decided that if this man could let go so easily, so could I. I really just think I have to care less about things and not assume other people’s feelings and not care if they are thinking bad thoughts about me.

Now there is no changing over night. I tried it the next day with Tanya but sort of failed at it – instead of coming off as cavalier and nonchalant, I snapped at her at one point and probably just proved once more that I have a bitch inside that likes to come out every now and again. Ok, let it go, there’s always tomorrow. Things worked out fine for the rest of the week and I was feeling good about being back.

Until today…today I can’t stop caring because the things that got me worked up are actually work related – the things that I want to stay passionate about. Working with Motale is a constant uphill battle and today was especially hard. Her record keeping is appalling and after I thought we had a good day last week, I realized that half the information she gave me was not accurate. This just complicates my work and now I have to go back and redo it. Our new volunteer, Nick, was sitting there with us and he observed that she has no respect for me and I have none for her. He’s very intuitive. My reasons are based on the fact that I’ve tried for over a year and she’s barely puts in enough effort to get the work done. And she does such a piss poor job when it comes to being a bookkeeper. It really just makes me want to pull my hair out. And on top of it all, in addition to her terrible bookkeeping, the facilitator that works with her is worried that there is another larger issue looming – one that could get her fired on the spot if it proves to be true. Half of me wants it to be true so we can get rid of her and find someone that will be dedicated and that pays a little more attention to detail. The other half of me remembers that we do have good days and she does have some redeeming qualities – like her good computer skills.

Other frustrations about the work environment for that office and the lack of coordinator to discuss these important issues just fueled my fire and finally at noon I just had to call it quits with this office for the day. It helps to remove myself from the work for a bit to get some fresh perspective but it also delays the work that needs to be done.

All these things are piling up on my plate and right now, I’m finding it really hard to get all my work done while remembering that I’m just a volunteer – I don’t want to offer up 30 or 40 hour work weeks to this organization because the bottom line is I don’t have the capacity to do that as a volunteer. I am dedicated and truly believe this organization is doing good work but I’m only one person and I have to keep my sanity some how! Going back and forth between Johannesburg and village life is tough enough, what makes it even harder is the work that spills over from the main office and that I’m expected to do while I’m here in the village. I’ve drawn the line and made sure that I don’t work past 5 pm so I can keep my own time to do whatever I need but it still looms over me, weighing me down.

I’ve started to run regularly again and that helps out, especially on days like today. Instead of concentrating on all the stuff I have to do and figuring out how I’m going to get it all done, I spend at least 45 minutes with my girls and 20 of those huffing and puffing and wondering why it is I always let myself get so out of shape. Why, when I’m finally back in shape, do I think it’s a good idea to skip a day of running or exercising – that’s when the damn cycle breaks and I’m back to square one. The exercise is good and helps but really these kids make me just as happy. The unsolicited hugs and companionship that is unaffiliated with work is what I need on days like today. No expectations except that I show up like I promised.

This is a picture I took last week of them – my mom sent me some left over t-shirts from a CCSA event and they LOVED the shirts and immediately put them on, despite that we had just finished running. The ones in the blue t-shirts are the girls that I hang out with regularly: Khomotso, Natacia, Mitsibisi, Desire and Refiloe. Thought my mom would appreciate seeing the girls in their shirts.

I started this a little bit after the electricity went out. I was hoping that by the time I finished, it would be on and I could take a warm bucket bath. Unfortunately it hasn’t come back on so it’s a cold bath today. There is a storm a brewing outside – lot’s of thunder and lighting and I love it. I think I’ll hurry up and bathe so I can enjoy the show. Till next time…

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