engaging…lately {31}

This week, I spent one particularly great day with my aunt, going our own pace…talking and laughing, driving through Amish country, visiting a small lake where my brother and I went to summer camp, and hearing old stories I was surprised to be getting for the very first time.

We had fun. Good conversation. Beautiful views. Great ice cream.

At some point in the day, can’t remember how we got to it, our talk came ’round to the slightly more serious topic of navigating conflict. And Aunt Nancy shared a Brené Brown summary from an online Dare to Lead workshop she did during These Pandemic Times. She recapped it for me by text:

(In my mind, I sub ‘pursue it’ for ‘battle.’)


If I’m going to pursue something difficult…something heated or tense…upsetting, frustrating, or uncomfortable…knowing what I want to get out of it gives me direction *and* an indication of when to stop.

(Because if…ahem…when…I don’t know when to stop, I spiral. Snowball. And I hate it when that happens.)

Given the fact My One Word’s Engage, I’ve given this topic some thought this year. Only not in so many words.

Here’s one way I put it to use recently. (And I’m going to keep this as succinct as possible, because my example is so ridiculously first world I don’t want to give it that much air time!)

We live on Main Street in our little village of Westfield. A courteous, neighborly man owns the business property next door. After his parking lot was recently redone, the pavers thought we might like a few square feet of their leftover asphalt. So they spread it in a small, front section of our rather long driveway.

(I wasn’t home at the time.) (I was at the cottage with Audrey and her boyfriend, JT.)

Troy pursued a calm conversation with the owner. But when I found out, I was 100% incredulous.

Honestly. What were they thinking?

Ultimately, they agreed to try removing the section they laid. But it wouldn’t be for at least 3 days. And they’d probably need an excavator. Which would possibly damage our existing gravel drive.

I wasn’t buying it.

I’m going up there with a garden fork. I said. I’ll see if I can take it up myself.

Which is exactly what I did.

Troy and JT jumped in with a second fork and a shovel. (I’d sprained my foot and was in a walking boot.) It took us 30, maybe 45, minutes.

Easy. Done. Piled on a tarp awaiting pick-up.

In the time it took them to pick up the pile, we had all sorts of advice about what to do next, from write a bad review to sue! Absolutely none of which I’d entertain doing.

Because my answer to that question…? What do I want to get out of this? Well, I just wanted our driveway back. And it was. So that’s where it ended for me.

There would have been a time when I’d have wanted an apology. Or an acknowledgment, at least, of their bad call, bizarre tactic. I mean, did they expect us to say, Here’s $10,000! Just go ahead and finish the job! (Which was what it would have cost us.) Were they just saving themselves the trouble of proper disposal of leftovers on a Friday afternoon?

I can honestly say Who knows? And who cares!

I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t need to be right–I just need to do what’s right for me. I may not be able to change someone’s mind–but I can speak mine. I know what’s worth fighting for–and I’ll fight for it. I’m also getting better at recognizing what’s simply a waste of time. And energy. And not worth pursuing.

The hardest part for me? Practicing The Stop. So I don’t overengage, which can be futile and frustrating, at best…burn bridges, at worst.

Because the consequences can be so much greater than a driveway!

Remembering that small (kinda silly) driveway success, though, inspires me to keep at it. To keep asking [my version of] those workshop questions:

: : Why am I pursuing this?

: : What do I want to get out of it?

: : Am I being reasonable?

: : Are the consequences worth it?

: : Then…stopping when I get there.

7 thoughts on “engaging…lately {31}

Add yours

  1. First off, what were those guys smoking to think THAT was at all a good idea??! (I’m thinking of a really good Instagram reel about stupidity right now🤣) But great that you just solved the problem and didn’t feel the need to go further…definitely been in that situation and my practical need to not extend any more energy that is needed on those types of situations stops me too. I like the questions that dig deeper!
    And here’s a coincidence…on my flight to Buffalo last month I was listening to Brene Brown’s podcast about that very seminar and things they discovered coming out of the pandemic! It was really good and enjoy all her podcasts 😊


  2. This is really great advice, especially for those of us who tend to get a bit overwhelmed by our emotions. I too would have been angry and completely befuddled by them doing such a thing, but I think you handled it well, all things considered!


  3. Wow, Carolyn – I’m still aghast at that “before” picture … and love how you handled it! You said “I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t need to be right–I just need to do what’s right for me” … and this Enneagram One thinks you did what was right. period. (obviously, I haven’t yet reached that point 😉


  4. Small town silliness. I tend to over react to everything now. Or have I always? Or is it just old age crustiness? You handled it so well. .


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