Peace of Mind and a Piece of Furniture
Randolph, Laura B., Ebony
A few weeks ago, I violated what, for working women everywhere, is known as the 11th commandment: Thou shall not cry in the office. This is no small confession for me since, from the time I landed my first job, my mother made it clear to me that the office is one of two places where a woman should never be seen without her makeup or her composure. (The other is the subject of a whole different column.)
I didn't even make it to the ladies room where, as any career woman can tell you, if you flush the toilet at strategically timed intervals, you can sob in complete anonymity in the stall of your choice. Nope, I burst into tears in the middle of my office in the middle of the day.
I know what you're thinking; you're thinking the same thing I was: What the heck was wrong with me? I mean it isn't as if I'm a stranger to pressure. What Black woman is? Every Sister I know routinely juggles half a dozen demanding responsibilities at once without missing a deadline, an appointment or a beat. Stress management is our thing. We handle it the way Jackie Joyner-Kersee handles the hurdles: with spectacular style, grace and agility. It's like my mother always told me: "Pressure makes a diamond" isn't just some abstract maxim to Black women. It pretty much summarizes Life As We Know It. (Which undoubtedly explains why I had the presence of mind to close my door before I opened the floodgates.) The outburst was so baffling because it was so out of character.
It was a standard, everyday, routine checkup kind of a phone call that caused it. Or so I thought at the time. It was from my girlfriend, Pat, and before we could do the usual how's-the-family-what's-up-for-the-weekend-who's-zoomin'-who chitchat, I cut her off mid sentence.
"Gotta run," I said. "Working on a column. On a killer deadline."
"What's it about?" she asked.
The ungarnished truth was that I didn't have a clue. It was due in 48 hours but, thanks to a wicked case of writer's block, I hadn't even started it.
"Who knows?" I replied. "My mind is as blank as this computer screen I've been staring at for the last three hours."
The next thing I knew ... tears. Now, Pat is a five-star executive but she is a six-star friend and so in less time than it takes to blow your nose and then re-powder it, there she was knocking on my door.
"I see what your problem is," she announced, surveying my office and handing me a Kleenex. "If you want to kick the writer's block to the curb, you need to get your feng shui together."
"My what way?" I said.
"Your feng shui," she repeated. "It's all wrong, completely off, seriously bad."
Because I have an open mind (not to mention a deadline or three to meet every month), I stopped blowing my nose and listened carefully as Pat explained the meaning of these strange sounding words. …