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It’s hard to be the grey rock.

The world around me is pretty fragile today. The presidential election is still in limbo but surprising results keep coming in, benefitting both sides, one way or the other. The news commentators have opinions, but I quit listening to them during the last election, when their predictions fell flat. There are even rumblings of illegal voting. I am not naïve enough to think that it’s impossible, but with all of the safeguards in place, such as poll watchers, cameras (including live-cams), websites where you can view your vote and my belief in human decency, I do not think there could be enough of it to throw an election. But what are our choices? Throw out the election process and let the person with the biggest army and the most guns win? That would be a military dictatorship and then we might as well rip up our constitution.

Instead of thinking too much about it, I woke up this morning, got dressed, ate some lightly-spread peanut butter toast and headed straight to the gym for my (somewhat habitual) early Thursday morning work-out with my new favorite young, and extremely fit, ladies of this community. I had to modify the moves even more than I normally do because my left knee is still hurting from walking on the soft beach in Florida. (I know you feel SO BAD for me!) But those modifications today did not detract from a good 600 calorie burn-out! I have been doing classes for so long that I know all kinds of optional moves that will work the same area of the body but be less of a twist and more low-impact. I can think of nothing worse than injuring my body during a work-out and having to take a break from the gym. I’m sure I would find a way to work out other parts of my body, but I doubt that I would burn as many calories, which would mean I would have less food calories to add into my diet every day. (This girl would NOT survive on un-wich sandwiches and celery sticks!)

After class, I showered and got ready at the gym before going into work. I was able to start my day 30 minutes early and get a few things done before my co-workers arrived. It was a busy day with lots of emails and errands to run. I had a sugar-free coffee in the morning, a few snacks and a large sandwich for lunch. But luckily, Mother Nature handed us another beautiful day of record heat – we got up to 75 degrees, which is unheard of in North Dakota in November! – so I made sure to get outside a few times, including a long walk with my beloved neighbor as soon as I got home from work.

My co-workers, friends and family have a pretty good idea of where I stand politically and sometimes it is not in alignment with their beliefs, but they know that I value their relationship much more than any political candidate or party. However, sometimes we get too close to the topic of politics. We all have such strong opinions that we want to somehow convince others that we are right, but we don’t realize that we are actually dis-respecting their beliefs at the same time. It’s a hard line to hold.

During my vacation, I listened to a podcast by Mel Robbins called Start Here, and in one episode, she gives the “grey rock” analogy. When our family and friends start to bring up topics, sometimes in a way to bait an argument out of us, a good way to think about avoidance is by being the grey rock in the rock garden. It actually works well now, too, with all of the blue and red you see, signifying democrat and republican. When controversial topics arise, the grey rock does not make a comment either way. Instead of taking sides, he/she might say “I don’t know” or “maybe” when questions are asked. They just sit patiently, maybe try and change the subject, but mainly wait for the conversation to end. It’s a tactic I was already using but I like the name that Mel gave me.

The grey rock analogy can be used for all sorts of purposes. There are many situations in workplaces where people have opinions, not only of the work, but also of other co-workers and the rules of the organization. When I was in my late 20s, I got caught up with another brightly-colored rock and I had the nerve to bring some of his complaints to my supervisor during my evaluation. It was one of the worst decisions I ever made on the job. But I learned from that mistake. I stopped spending time with negative co-workers and I try my best to keep all conversations matter-of-fact when it comes to work. But mostly, I just sit quietly and let other people give their opinions.

Let me tell you, though, it’s not easy. Of course I have grievances. Of course I have opinions about political candidates. I have even had to use the grey rock analogy when the news is running stories that run counter to my beliefs. All I do is turn the channel, but not before my heart rate speeds up. I am just as passionate and forthright with my beliefs as the next person but I save my inner-most thoughts for my closest family and friends who respect me. Some of those people disagree with me but they love me enough to respect my thoughts and let me finish my points before they argue their side. But no matter how much we love each other, we do not stay on contradictory conversations very long. We know it’s not healthy to continue arguing and neither side will be swayed.

The great thing about being the grey rock is that your mind can think whatever it wants. I have sat in front of co-workers and supervisors that were giving me unsolicited advice and opinions and inside my head, I was making plans for the evening or just singing a song that summed up my feelings in a celebratory way. I’ll never forget how good it made me feel. No one can take away your right to feel and think however you do. It’s not about being right about the topic. It’s the idea that each person’s opinion is the right one for them.

So the vote counting continues, along with my journey toward a healthier life. This presidential election may take weeks to be decided, but I am an expert of the waiting game. It took me months to lose the first 30 pounds so waiting a few weeks to find out the name of the commander in chief is no big deal. In fact, whoever it is, will be far less important than my desire to continue losing weight and changing my habits in order to make my dreams come true. I just need to keep campaigning for Rhea. She has covered a lot of ground but there are still many miles to go. I cannot let up because the opposing candidate (emotional eating) is only a meal away, so always close by. As long as I keep cheering for her and holding her sign up high, she will not only get elected, but she will serve recurring terms for the rest of her life. Her slogan is simple but effective. Just Believe! (It narrowly beat out, “Kick ass and take names!”)

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