Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Naughty or Nice: How to Define "You" in an Era of Doing

I have been thinking a lot about identity lately.

With the Christmas hubbub all around me, there have been many people who have asked me how I am going to broach the topic of Santa with my son when the time comes. Since he is only 3 months old this year, I have some time to really consider my options.

First, have you ever really thought about the whole naughty or nice thing? It really does make for bad parenting. If you're nice to me, then Santa will get you loads of toys. If you're not nice, then you will get coal. Talk about a conditional love. This will teach my son from a very early age that whatever he does defines what he gets- but this isn't an uncommon teaching at all. No matter our age we all can get caught up in the doing of things to get on the nice list of life.

Secondly, I have found that instead of wondering if I will tell him that Santa is real or not, I have been completely enthralled by the simple fact that what people believe of someone can dictate what is true or not. Santa's identity in my son's life is totally defined by what I tell him. The power of my words will be how he views the man in red during his childhood. This isn't just the case with Santa, this is the case with all of us.

What you say or believe about a person has the power to tarnish or polish one's perspective on those whom you directly influence in your life.

This is a power that many abuse without thinking about their actions. From time to time, I have had the wrong impression of someone and used that misconception as my barometer of that person's identity. This isn't a nice way to behave nor is it an accurate way to judge a person. What we think isn't always the truth.

Have you ever had someone judge you unfairly? Have you even heard someone's opinion of you and winced at the ugly picture they have painted?

Identity is a huge factor in determining our self worth, and where that worth lies can establish a healthy or unhealthy view of ourselves.

However, the catch-22 is that taking inventory of ourselves is a near impossibility- especially if you rely heavily on others opinions to define who you are.

I had a class once that had us practice an exercise in identity. We were told to write down who we were without using things that were extensions of self- such as job, credentials, place of origin, or relationship status.

I was staring at the blank page for twenty minutes. I would write down that I was a good student. However, that didn't define who I was, that was just something I was good at. I then wrote that I was a daughter. And while I am a daughter, that doesn't mean that I am nothing but someone's child. I then wrote that I was a human. And while that seemed to be one thing I could keep on the list, it certainly didn't make me different than anyone else.

I quickly began to realize that the exercise wasn't going to tell me who I was, it instead began opening my eyes to realize that what we do isn't who we are.

That is a big idea folks.

What we do, isn't who we are.

I was listening to a favorite speaker of mine, Mark Driscoll, and he said, "who we are determines what we do, not what we do determines who we are."

He went on to say that in both religion and society "activity" can quickly become identity. But when you truly discover who you are and who you were made to be- for me I find that in my Christian walk- then I receive an identity and out of that comes activity.

It is easy for us to get caught up in the "doing" of life. It is also easy to believe what others say about us.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

For those of us who have ever failed at something- you are not a failure.

For those of us who have ever lost something they loved- you are not a loser.

For those of us who have ever been beaten down- you are not beat.

For those of us who have ever been heartbroken- you are not without heart.

And for those of us who have simply been cut by the callous words of insensitive people- you are not alone.

The next time you find yourself wondering who you are in this world of constant doing, remember you are more than activity. You are a being unlike any other in this time and place. The simple solace found in having a soul makes you more than a resume or an outpouring of what others believe to be true about you.

As for Santa, since I've never met the guy I think I am just going to go with telling my son that the best gifts we can give each other don't come from the North Pole.

So watch your tongue over the holidays this year- and give the gift of a strong sense of self to those you share your life with.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Does where you live affect how nice you are?

In my book, Bitch, Please! How Nice Girls Can Succeed in a Bitch's World, I have an entire chapter dedicated to how manners have been replaced with moxie in modern day culture. Do you ever find yourself surprised when sales people are friendly or when a random stranger holds open the door? It seems that common courtesy is no longer that common.

Most often, I am gripping my purse nervously while I attempt to ask for directions from a random person. I hate it when my questions are met with an annoyed eyebrow raise and clenched teeth. No wonder I would rather drive around in circles pretending like I'm not lost.

Since when has needing help become a handicap? Since when have we built walls so high around ourselves that we roll our eyes when someone asks for a little direction or even a simple, "where did you get that amazing looking danish?"

Letting the elderly go first, saying "please" and "thank you" over the age of 6, and not cussing someone out over parking a little too close are antiquated ways to associate with strangers in today's world.

However, I think that demographics play into this quite a lot. And while I am not a researcher, I have done my own little self-study by living in different parts of the country and here is what I've concluded:

West Coasters are cold. East Coasters are busy. And Southerners have it right.

I remember the first time I was waiting for an elevator in a building downtown Nashville. Two men in suits with briefcases were standing in front of me. Both appearing to me to be very important, they were chatting cordially with one another. The doors opened and instead of rushing ahead, punching their buttons and continuing their conversation as if I didn't exist- they stepped aside, held the elevator door open for me, and asked which floor I was going to so they could push the button for me.

My jaw dropped, and I turned red from the attention.

Aren't you supposed to look anywhere but at those who share the cramped elevator space with you? Don't they know that on the West Coast, we urgently pull out our cell phones and pretend to check emails to avoid interaction?

It's shameful. In the South men will not enter a building, a coffee shop, or a car before a woman- no matter her age, appearance or status. They may even let you go first in line at Starbucks if you show up at the same time.

Now, I have to be honest. As any born and raised Seattlite, I do have to say that I enjoy the space. Sometimes, a cheerful, "How are you this morning, ma'am?" makes me want to roll my eyes and stick my tongue out. I'm doing awful! I'm tired, sick of this job, and want to go back to bed.

But sometimes when you're nice when you don't want to be no matter where you live or where your from, well... that's all it takes to change your mood entirely, not to mention your day!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Buzz for Bitch, Please!

My first book, Bitch, Please! How Nice Girls Can Succeed in a Bitch's World is coming out in March 2011- but advance reading copies are out-and-about, gaining some early buzz.

I am very proud of this book and of the job that my publicist is doing at Turner Publishing, so I thought I would post a few of the reviews we have gotten back so far. Very exciting!

“Nice girls have self-esteem – more self-esteem, one might dare say, than the bitchy girl; this book will remind you of what you already know you’re worth, and that genuine kindness and self-control will get you much further than profanity, pushiness, and aggression.”
-Elizabeth Weiss McGolerick, Founder of Weiss Words and frequent contributor to SheKnows.com

"This is a must read book for any woman that has ever been put down, belittled, made to feel less than they are or inferior by another woman."
- Heather Sands, The Book Reading Gals

"A more than inspirational must-read! After you laugh out loud you will find yourself thinking, "Finally, a thought provoking book exclusively for all the nice girls of the world."
- Danica Stewart, actress & model, regular series lead on the Daytime Emmy nominated show Passions

"Even though "Bitch, Please!" is predominantly a book for women, most of the themes throughout are basic rules for everyone and I caught myself wanting to be a better person."
- Michael Britt, guitarist and songwriter with the multi-platinum recording artist Lonestar

“Megan Munroe states her case well for why being nice can get you more—if you learn how to handle yourself properly. With examples of people in the spotlight and the types of bitchy women that are commonly encountered in all areas of our lives, you’ll learn how to use nice as an advantage. This book is fun, informative and will make you want to stoke your Nice Girl mojo to beat the bitches at their own game.”
- Daylle Deanna Schwartz, author of Nice Girls Can Finish First

"Megan Munroe has written the road map to bitches, along with tools for surviving their conniving. Bitch, Please! explains how to recognize and avoid the bitch bombs while maintaining your niceness. This one's for the girls, and you're going to love it!"
- Alicia King, Songwriter and author of Healing: The Essential Guide to Helping Others Overcome Grief and Loss