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June 22, 2018 25 mins

This week, we speak with two folks from the HowStuffWorks office who would like to change the same thing about themselves for different reasons. We also sit down with Judge Jane Morrison to talk about changing the world instead of yourself.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
My lack of patients. I'm learning, but like I just
boil sometimes and it's too quick for me. Um. So
I think my lack of patients has really affected now
that I'm thinking about it more than I realized. That's
to make a campbell. She's the production coordinator here at

(00:22):
How Stuff Works. Tamika and Israel Ponts, another How Stuff worker,
joined us in the question booth to talk about the
question if you could change one thing about yourself, what
would it be? When did you first realize that you
really struggled with that? Late last year, I did like
a deep dive with my therapist, and I just really

(00:42):
realized a lot of situations I found myself in. If
I would have just had a little patience, you know,
and just taken a time to stop and think, really
assess situations, you know, things would have turned out a
lot differently. M hm. So yeah, yeah, late last year.

(01:03):
What are some things that you're trying to do to
overcome that? I actually find myself counting a lot. Yeah,
Like I am, I count a lot at work, and
I'm I have a really good friend and I'll ask
him a question and I used to say, answer my question,
but he really just sits, you know, and I'm really

(01:25):
learning to just sit. I don't have to answer or
do anything right away. So I really am very conscious
about not reacting like off the cuff right. Was there
a moment or a situation where you really noticed it
last year when you said that, was there something that
happened or um, there was like a culmnation of a

(01:46):
whole lot of things, Like I was in this really
crappy relationship and that was one of the things that
just really tried my patients. So I'm like, you know,
this is just really getting out of hand. So that's
really something I am discussed in therapy a lot. It
takes patients to learn, you know, to learn the patients

(02:08):
And now June of totally different person from last year's
Tamika m hm hm. Welcome to the Question Booth. My
name is Dylan Fagan and I'm Kathleen Cillian, and this

(02:29):
week we're listening to more answers to our question about
changing ourselves. We wanted to ask some people around our
office about it, and Tamika and Israel fondly known as Izzy,
we're the perfect pair. There are two of the most
helpful people here at House of works, but their personalities
are very different. But let's call it complimentary because they
make a great team together. We'll also be speaking with

(02:51):
Jane Morrison in the second half of our show. She's
a Fulton County State Court judge here in Atlanta. She's
confident in the person she's become, but it has an
always been that way, not that it was anything that
she could change. Yes, but first let's see the rest
of her interview with Tamika and Izzy. I think mine
is the same response, but with a spin. I think

(03:12):
that my lack of patients has caused by lack of
empathy and sympathy. What I mean by that is I
find it difficult to sympathize with individuals who are in
situations that they have control over but choose not to.
And then I find it hard to empathize for the
almost the exact same reason. I can't put myself in

(03:33):
their shoes because I don't see myself making those mistakes.
I find myself surrounded by a general population of people
who are in self induced traumas, and you can't help
them all, and they don't want your help, but to
navigate and to live amongst the masses of people in
these situations that very angry, very self absorbed, very me

(03:55):
me me people. As it gets depressing after a while,
and you just have to learn how to navigate personalities
and do your best at whatever you're doing. So you know,
I have the same answers to make it, but with
those particular emphasis. Yeah, is there a certain situation or
something that comes to mind that you think of or
just like just over all your day to day. I

(04:16):
would say it's most evident in driving now. I know
Atlanta has their issues and they're becoming quickly then the
number one worst, and with our rapid growth expansion with
population and our lack of infrastructure for roads, this is
going to get even worse. And people drive like they
feel yeah, which just tells me when you drive around
that most people don't feel so hot and they take

(04:38):
it out aggressively when they drive. So that's it's most evident.
But even walking in the food court down stairs, you
can just see and I pay attention to a lot
of things, a lot of body language. You know, they're unhappy.
They tend to make others around them unhappy and then
just perpetuates, and it's something you just have to contend
with yeah, and so how do you deal with that,
like when you when you come across it, like, how
do you handle that? I try to not have it

(05:01):
follow me into day two if I, if I, if
I accumulate all of this stress, I make sure that
when I wake up in the morning, I'm not taking
any of that luggage with me into day two. And
as long as I can offload it before I get home,
because it's not fair to my family for me too,
b I rate when I get home. It's not their fault.
As long as I can offload it before I get
into my personal space and I can completely forget about

(05:22):
it before I wake up the next day, then that's
the only way I can cope. Okay, now that we
focus on something that we want to change, I would
love to know a quality that you really love about yourself. Well,
mine is the opposite of Israel adore you, But I
I have an immense sense of empathy for people like

(05:44):
my son always had months. You can't save everyone, stop
crying over everyone. It's like, I really appreciate my ability
to put myself in someone else's position. Um. Yeah, because
it's it's rough out here, and you know a lot
of people are going through gosh awful things, you know,

(06:06):
And I think being able to to connect with people
on that level has like fostered me a lot of
opportunities to help people, um, giving me a lot of
really awesome friendships as well. So have you always been
that way since you're young? Since I was a little kid, yep,
always always helping people out. My dad would yell at

(06:28):
me once I learned how to drive, I would like
pick strangers up and oh, you need to ride home.
My Dad's like, you gotta stop doing that. And I
literally just stopped doing that when I moved here. Like
homeless people and it's just ridiculous. But and I want
to save every animal, And yeah, I just don't like
seeing people suffer. I really don't. And some people are

(06:52):
in that their situations by their own doing, and then
a lot of people aren't. So you know, I feel
really bad for people who are just in crappy situations,
especially if I can help them. Yeah. I usually never
know what someone's going through until you give a chance
to listen to what they have to say or their story. Right,
So you said you've always been that way. Was there
something like in your in your family or or your

(07:14):
upbringing that really instilled that to you to be so
empathetic so young. I think my grandmother was really my inspiration.
She took in a lot of foster kids, um. I think, jeez,
she adopted my aunt and uncle um, and must have
had at least twenty five foster kids, who we all

(07:36):
still saying, not all of them. Most of them were
still in touch with them and they're like, you know,
if Rose hadn't taken us in, who knows where we
would be. And so just seeing her just give her
home and her food and her time and her love
just really helped me see that. I think that's what
we're supposed to do. And so were you guys very close?

(07:56):
Oh yeah, My grandmother's like she was my everything. Literally,
I would my mom my family. We live like around
the corner, but I was always at Grandma's house. M Yeah.
She was my best friend. She passed, I want to say,
to five years ago. Yeah, but now I cherished all
the time I had with her, and she was an

(08:18):
amazing woman. We'll be right back with more from our
interview with Tamika and Ezzy after the break. M HM,

(08:42):
can you think of what you love quality you love
about yourself. I don't know if I'm the best to
answer that question, because my perception of me versus how
people see me are going to be two completely different things,
or they might be the same. I would say that
I think that one of my best qualities would be
the fact that direct and blunt and short, and if

(09:03):
you have ever had conversations with me, I don't I
don't tend to elaborate when I don't have to short
and sweden and and what I do for a living,
I take a very mathematical and logical approach and stuff,
and I'm mechanically short on and and and it follows
me in conversation. I talked to Tamka oftentimes, and she
gets me out of my groove. And you got to

(09:23):
pull me away from work to get me to open
up a lot, because when I'm in the office, i'm
you know, I was a former marine, so I take
very I take a military procession to almost everything I
do now, especially at work, and you gotta pull me
out of that situation or at home, and I tend
to loosen up a little bit and you can see
more of me. But I think I like that quality

(09:44):
about me and of course I'll rub people the wrong way,
and I've done that through my entire career, my entire life.
But I've also made a lot of lifelong friends in
the process. So I for the good and the bad.
It's I think that's my best quality. So have you
always been kind of just like blunt to the point,
like even before the Marines? Or I was shy before
the Marines. I was that guy that no one knew

(10:05):
existed and I had very few friends. I was just
that was my personality. And then when I joined the service,
they boy did they changed me. And uh, right out
of boot camp. My mother was actually shocked the metamorphosis
of of of who she got back. She remembers who
she sent, but she didn't know who returned from three
months of basic training, and it broke her heart in

(10:27):
a lot of ways, but she understood it was something
that I had my heart and I did it, and
it followed me. It want some marine, always a marine,
It's true. And uh, pushing fifty years and if my
mother was here today she passed um, she would probably
say that it was the best thing that could have
happened to me because I grew up without a father.
So the Marine Corps instantly became my surrogate dad in

(10:50):
three months time. Um So, they had the force a
lot of information into me in a very small period
of time. And I kind of liked the way that felt.
I liked the power they gave need to open up
and to be direct and to instruct and I never
let that go to this day. What made you want
to go into the Marines? That's another really funny story.

(11:10):
We have enough time for that. But the truth is,
at a high school after graduation, I really didn't have
any immediate plans. And this is God bless my mom.
She saw a recruiter walking down the street in his
dress blues uniform and she whistled and said, over here,
I got one, and here I am. I mean, I
did a little research and it ended up being the

(11:31):
service I wanted to get into. It was just and
I loved everything about what the Marine Corps and being
the smallest unit and being under the President's thumb at
all times. I wanted to be part of that. And uh, yeah,
that's what that's what I did. I'm learning that patience
and empathy kind of go hand in hand. Um So

(11:56):
I try to after I count if that doesn't work.
I try to put myself, you know, in the person's shoes,
um or I just walk away. And I literally I've
told a couple of people I'm gonna walk away right
now and when I come back, we can finish this.
But yeah, I've definitely walked away from situations. I would say,

(12:20):
take care of you, And what I mean by that
is if if you don't have your own peace of mind,
and you don't have your own happiness and your own health,
you can't be any good to anyone else. So you're
going to get stressed from all different angles, from family,
from work, from friends, from strangers. But if your health
isn't the number one focus, you're not going to be
around to disappoint them in the future. You've got to

(12:42):
take care of you spiritually, emotionally, and physically, and just
try to enjoy yourself. I mean, we're not on this
planet very long, so don't let others influence you in
a way that's going to affect your long term health.
I know you guys are both parent I hear constantly
from my parents that having children gave them taught them patients,

(13:06):
because it's like the ultimate test of patients when you
have children, absolutely, And I tell my my son just
turned twenty one, and I said to him the other day,
I was like, I wish I were this parent throughout
your entire you know, because I've always he's the person
I've had the most patients with um. But especially I

(13:27):
turned forty five last year, I'm at that point where
it's like, it's not that serious. I'm not going to
stress myself out, and I really wish I were this parent,
you know. But you definitely need patients when dealing with
little ones or even bigger ones. But it's part of

(13:48):
the journey. I think it really is. And I think
just overall, once you hit like your mid forties, like
you just have such a different perspective on life and
of the things that we fuss about are like so trivial.
So it's like, you know, whatever, you either walk away
or you deal with it and just leave it alone.

(14:10):
So and again that's really helping me with my patients.
I think now. Unfortunately, I probably have less patience than
I went when I was a younger dad. I have
three daughters, and when I was a younger dad, I
had infinite amounts of patients and nothing got to me.
But at this stage of my life and I'm forty
nine years old. At this stage of my life, it's different.

(14:31):
I think it's an age thing too. I think to me,
it's got something here. I think it's an agent. Before
I didn't really think much about it. I was just
a dad, and I did the dad things, the everyday things,
and hey, you know, I was filling the role. But
I really didn't have a instruction because once again I
grew up without a father. So I was just winging it.
And then now I don't know. I just feel that
that little beautiful little girl of mine, three years old,

(14:54):
shout out to Hannah. Something in my mind tells me,
you know what, she's fifty genetic matter of me. Therefore
she should be inheriting all of my knowledge. And it
doesn't work like that. She's not a little, you know,
a little computer, and since I work on computers all day,
I think it inherits no. No, children have to be taught,
and teaching children takes off a lot of a lot

(15:15):
of patients. And sometimes I have to sit down and say,
you know what, she's three, show her, instruct her parent
and her. I have probably less patients than before, but
I'm smarter now, so I know I got to sit
back and take an end to try and realize who
she is and what she needs from me before it's
because they grew up so fast. We'll have our interview

(15:41):
with Judge Jane Morrison after another quick break. M M.
And we're back. Thanks for joining us, and we were

(16:03):
glad to be able to sit down with Jane Morrison recently.
She's an Atlanta judge and openly gay. She joined us
in the booth to talk about how there are some
things you just can't and shouldn't change. Yeah, and we
wanted to talk to someone who had a good bit
of life experience, someone who had seen few points on
social issues change and who had also found confidence inside
of themselves as that happened. We wanted to do this

(16:25):
because so many of our participants last week were teenagers
in college students, and sometimes it's good to hear from
someone who's a little bit older than yourself. I'm not
sure that at this age, and I had the benefit
now of fifty four years, I would change anything. Of course,
we'd all like to be a little thinner, a little
more fit, more attentive daughter, you know, things like that.

(16:47):
But um, as far as who I am, I really
wouldn't want to change much now. And there's certainly have
been other periods in my life where I might have
been encouraged to change some things. And that's where I
think at younger ages you feel social pressure a little
bit more to try to conform. I think of a
couple examples in my own life. Of course, always a

(17:08):
little bit gender nonconforming. In my life, I wanted to
be doing some things that weren't perhaps traditionally what girls did.
So I was in Brownies and we were encouraged to
do baking and cooking and things like that, and I
wanted to do woodworking. But I never wanted to change
the fact that I was a girl. I just wanted
to change what I could do. But when I figured

(17:31):
out that I was gay, that was something that was
not really encouraged back in the day. This was back
in the late seventies and early eighties, and uh, the
concern was that I wouldn't fit in. My parents, of course,
were concerned about safety, you know, you'll be a social outcast.
At that point. My mother was concerned I would be
actually a criminal, which is really kind of frightening, but

(17:53):
that was the state of the law at that point
in time, and I knew that that was not right,
that that was unfair. But I also knew that I
couldn't change that about me. So even if I wanted
to change it, I couldn't have. So, as it turns out,
those are some of the things that have made me
uniquely me. So I didn't try to change it. I

(18:13):
tried to change the world instead. UM. Yeah, I think
it's really interesting too that you knew right away inside
you just that's something that couldn't be changed. Yeah. It's
funny because, um, I think I might have perhaps wanted
it to be changeable, but I realized that it wasn't.
I remember seeing, Um I was growing up in New England, Um,

(18:37):
and I always wanted to go to school in Boston.
And there was a picture I saw somewhere, maybe on
a calendar or cocktail napkin or something sort of a
hokey picture of people walking on cobblestone or brick streets
in Back Bay, and it was pictures of couples holding
hands and they were young men and women, probably supposed
to be college age. And I thought, wow, um, you know,

(19:02):
I will never have that life. Uh, and it was
kind of sad that I would never fit that sort
of perfect little yuppie, preppy boyfriend girlfriend scenario. But I
was like, Okay, well it's going to look different for me,
but there's no way I can change myself to fit
into that little picture. I don't know how I knew

(19:22):
that I couldn't change myself, but I just knew. You
just knew. I just knew you could just feel inside um.
But people are encouraged to change a lot of pressures
on people to change another thing about myself personally, my
hair started turning gray when I was really young. I
started turning gray when I was like thirteen, And oftentimes
people are encouraged men and mostly women to dye their
hair they don't want to look old. But I was

(19:44):
just sort of like, this is just who I am.
So I never dyed my hair and now I have
white hair and it just fits who I am. I
sort of grew into it. That's not as significant as
you know, sexual orientation or something like that, but it's
still something that a society that we're constantly told that
we should change, right, we should change how we look,
we should change how we think. Sometimes even that's that's scary.

(20:05):
People tell you to change how you think. I just
like the idea of not changing yourself, but changing the perception.
I think that that's something that when you're younger it
can be hard to realize. I think also that when
you're younger, you may not realize how valuable those individual

(20:26):
differences that you have are. I don't know, it's kind
of like the whole you know, Spider Man, Superman, whatever.
You have these little superpowers, but you don't yet have
the ability to open your cape and fly with them,
which as you get older, you realize, hey, this is
who I am, and I have somehow developed the the space,

(20:47):
the autonomy, the confidence to use your superpowers. Do you
feel like as time has gone on that more superpowers
are continually revealed to yourself. I'm I'm still trying to
learn how to fly. One does grow more confident sometimes
in a in a career, in a in a job.

(21:08):
It takes a while to settle in and to realize
what you're comfortable doing. With a friend. Sometimes you talk
all the time as you're first getting to know each other,
and then you realize that you can be comfortable being quiet,
Maybe being quite a superpower I don't know, okay, So
I would also love to know a quality that you
love about yourself. I like being brave. I like that

(21:29):
about myself. Um, whether it's brave and dressing a little
differently than other people, or maybe it's brave. You see
something that's wrong and you step forward and say, you know,
can I help you fix that? What can I do
to stop whatever is going on that is wrong? Um?
Standing up for things? Have you always been braver? Has

(21:50):
that come with your age and more confidence? I like
to think I've always been brave. I felt like to
think I always will be. And you have to be
brave and have to live your own life. Life is fabulous.
There are so many great choices we can make, so
many things, we can do, things we have access to.
You have to be brave enough to make choices that
are right for you, whatever it is, choosing a path

(22:11):
that's that's right for you going into a little bit
of your career. Did you have to be brave when
you ran putting yourself out into the public domain to
run for office. It's not to be considered lightly, but
it's a really rewarding experience. And when lose or draw
I knew they were going to be positive aspects of it.

(22:32):
So I knew that I would meet new people, that
I would get to have an opportunity that's uniquely an
American opportunity. Not every country allows people to run for office. Um.
Not every country allows women to run for office. Uh.
Certainly not every country or every part of the country
or every municipality would elect an outgay person. So it

(22:56):
was really sort of a unique moment in history and
in location, um that allowed me to do that. And
it was great and and yeah, it took being brave
to say I'll do it. Am I happy with the
choices that I've made and the path that I've chosen, Yes,
very much. So. I've walked myself to a place with

(23:19):
other people and the support of others and whatnot, but
I've ended up on a very nice walk in the woods.
It's gotten me to a very nice place that I
want to be at. This week's interviews reinforced the idea

(23:43):
for me that you can learn to love things about
yourself and if you're uncertain, there are things you can
do to help take a step back. If he wants
in a while to let things follow you into day,
to talk to a therapist. Find your own path. There's
no right answer, but like many people who came into
the booth, you might find that the thing you want
to change about yourself is really something that you love.

(24:07):
M hm m m m. Hey tell us what you think.
Share your stories with us. We love getting your emails.
You can send them to the Question Booth at House
to Forks dot com. We Question Underscore Booth on Twitter

(24:30):
and the Question Booth on Instagram. Yeah, and visit us
in the booth. We're here in Atlanta at Pont City
Market twelve to five pm Friday through Sunday. Kathleen and
I wrote the script, I did the music, and the
two of us produced the show. And the special part
is you are listeners and participants. Next week we'll be
listening to the answers to the question what is your

(24:51):
greatest fear? But until then, see you in the Question
Booth

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