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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moxie Failings...

MOXIE - The ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage; vigor; verve; pep. [Moxie Week begins here. Click for this week's Bliss Initiative.]

Yesterday I said that Moxie means looking squarely at the thing that scares you and acting anyway.  I promised to you that I would be on the look out for opportunities to be brave and speak up instead of quietly going about my business. Sadly, I have to say that I failed. I can say that I heard my moxie mantra ringing in my ears a couple of times but I just didn't act. 

One of those occasions was yesterday when this guy, a rather scruffy looking dad who was with his son at the park, tried on several occasions to interact with me. I was at the park with my group of mommy friends, we go there most Mondays and we, and our kids, really take over the place.  His appearance not withstanding he had another strike against him. He was a man. Our little mommy group has always been welcoming to the spouses of our little click but a singleton man without a wifely introduction has little chance of garnering much attention from us.

We really don't intend to be so unwelcoming. It is just that we have spent several years together and we have a friendship that allows for speaking in shorthand. You know, with a shared knowing eye or just the right gesture which now speaks more then any word can ever say. This poor Dad had already been a recipient of some unspoken language when he got really flustered by one of the little girls in our group repeatedly pulling her shirt up over her head. Clearly he hasn't spent much time with the preschool set so our reaction which more properly could be called a complete lack of a response was probably slightly upsetting to him.

No matter, he kept on. Forging ahead with comments about this or that or about what each kid was doing. At one point, after the parks and recreation department had stopped by to fix our parks little water feature, it was this Dad who sat by the fountain mediating who's turn it was or was not to push the button. The kids were having a great time and he was performing a fabulous service as I was able to stay perched on my bench with out interruption. 

As we were all gathering to leave, somehow the mommy conversation turned to vegetarianism. We are a typically crunchy California crew and several of us are vegetarian (not me at the moment) and if not do eat vegetarian food on a fairly regular basis (again I can't count me in this number). The bulk of my participation in this conversation was my consideration to return to a more vegetarian diet, I was vegan in my 20s and all the bacon I now consume is weighing on my heart (particularly with my pig giveaway underway... but I digress!) and at some point this Dad jumped in to ask this question:

"Can you make a good meal like that? With all Vegetables?"

He went on to explain that he was a bar-b-que guy and his wife's friend was vegetarian and he just didn't know what she could eat.

This is where my moxie failed me. There were suddenly a lot of "knowing glances" being exchanged among our crew.  A kind of overall "It figures, this guy doesn't know about vegetarian food." An honest observation perhaps but as I walked away I began to realize how positively dismissive we all were towards him. We answered him with trite responses.

"Of course you can make great vegetable based meals." Without any further explanation. Not even a little mention of how portobello mushrooms are awesome when grilled. I do remember tossing out that vegetarian chili can be as good as meat based ones but my comments were intended to end the conversation not engage it.

This poor guy spent an entire afternoon being the odd man out and when he tried to interact with us, on our current topic of choice I totally blew him off! I believe he was genuinely interested in figuring out what vegetarianism was all about. If we had taken the time to converse with him it might have been possible to get him interested in trying something. I know that if I was alone I would have answered his questions but there in my pack it was simple to just walk away. 

Was he a guy I wanted to get to know better? Not particularly but I really think I could have been a hell of a lot more gracious. What made this whole thing a moxie failing for me is that I felt this way BEFORE I walked away. My friend Shannon and I had even, moments previously, engaged in a conversation about high school clicks (a posse of teen girls were within earshot totally dissing a classmate) and how we are glad to be out of that situation. What irony to feel like I was doing the very same thing in an adult context. 

My realization further crystalized as I was driving away but to tell the full truth I didn't really want to to be the brave one who actually interacted with him. First, I didn't want to be the odd one out among my friends. The guy was a little weird and I didn't get the impression anyone really wanted to risk his becoming a regular at our park. I was feeling bad about how I was behaving but I didn't really know what to do. So I did what has become normal. I took the easy way out and just walked away. 

Would I respond any differently in future similar situations because of this experience? I certainly hope so but as I sit here typing away I am really not convinced. Moxie is weak in this one.

So what do you think you would have done? Have you "spoken up" recently even though it was hard for you?

I am participating in the "Pour Your Heart Out" Meme with this post. It wasn't easy to write and I am interested in what you have to say about it. Thank you so much for your comments.      
Please also visit Shell our host to read more Pour Your Heart Out Stories!

Next Post: Someone who has moxie!

My 13 bliss virtues are 
joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, 
romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, and surprise.

This week we are studying Moxie. Next up is Humility Week


  1. That's a tough one. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Well, I would have been nervous talking to him. I think I would have spoken up about the vegetarian thing but honestly who knows what I would do if I was actually in that situation. It is a learning experience and I think each time you will get better!

    I found you through pour your heart out. I hope you have a good day!

  3. Honestly, I probably would have spoken up. BUT...that being said..I've spent more of my life on the 'odd man out' side of this story than on the 'inside clique' side. I know how he feels and I would probably find myself relating to him more than to the other women. Maybe you will have another chance! If so... TAKE IT!

  4. my husband is an over-weight, often scruffy, stay at home dad who could be called a bit odd or strange, and I agree with Mom with Moxie. He often gets overlooked at the park with our girls, and I know he would love to talk to someone while Leah is playing.

  5. I love your blog (btw) and the concept behind it! Like I said below, my husband is a stay-at-home dad who works nights who is overweight and scruffy. I know, personally I go out of my way to speak with the 'odd' ones out at the park because so often in my life I am one of those who always gets left out. So glad to have found you and look forward to getting to know you better!

  6. Oh goodness ... I totally relate to this! I think it is harder to stand up and stand against the crowd but oh how sad to have to look back and recognize unkindness in yourself. I'm still processing (haven't written YET) a time yesterday when I did stand up and speak but at a moment when I am not sure that was the kindest thing to do. I hate regret!

    Following your lovely blog now! :) BTW ... What is this font? I LOVE it!

  7. I'm widely acknowledged for being way too chatty with strangers (any strangers, anywhere) by my friends and family. Last night, for example, I was driving the three hours back to DC and stopped for dinner at a diner. I had a conversation about the best places to stop in the USA with a trucker then discussed cell/traffic laws with three off-duty police officers.

    I think, if you ever see this guy again, you should talk to him a bit. Explain more about vegetarianism to him. It's probably hard for him to be the male in a traditionally female-oriented role, like taking a child to the park. I'm sure your conversation would make him feel pretty good--and the things you can learn from (even crazy, in my experience) people are worth the time. I'm sure your friends would be okay with it; they may have been nervous about talking to him for the same reasons you were.

    Besides, vegetarianism is neat. I'd never eaten a vegetarian meal on purpose until this year--now we do veggie weeks occasionally just to take breaks from meat. It's all because I met a really nice girl at the beach who talked to me about her vegan diet and gave me and my friend some recipe ideas!

  8. Wow - I'm not sure what i would have done in this situation. He was probably feeling like an outsider, since he was the only man. He probably knew that we was an "outsider" and was trying the best way he knew how to be friendly. I can also understand your side of the situation. It's not always easy to have something "different" shake up your regular routine. His arrival was something you weren't expecting. What would I have done? I'm not really sure. Believe it or not, I'm a fairly shy person and not always willing to be the first to "greet" someone. Perhaps should you see him again, offer him a smile and hello. If he engages in conversation, try and offer friendly responses. If he asks a vague question like "can you make good vegetarian meals?" Try and reply with "Sure, it's simple. Name me your favorite veggie and I'll see if I have a great recipe that you'll love). Theresa :)

  9. I think you will do it differently next time. Because now you've seen how you felt about it from experience.

    Thanks for linking up!

  10. You are so honest here- that must have taken courage- its much easier to gloss over our failings than be honest...I speak from experience here! Of course we'd all like to say we'd either have done it differently, or would do it differently next time, but, well, I guess I'd have done much the same. Personally I don't feel comfortable with many children's Dads, but perhaps not everyone would have followe the same course for the same reason.


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Ben Franklin's 13 Virtues

  • 1. TEMPERANCE - Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • 2. SILENCE - Speak not what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER - Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION - Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY - Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY - Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • 7. SINCERITY - Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • 8. JUSTICE - Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION - Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS - Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILITY - Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. CHASTITY - Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or to the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
  • 13. HUMILITY - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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