Archive for January, 2020|Monthly archive page

Here I Go Again

It’s that time of year again. Time to go to the company sales rally to kickoff the year. Last year, I had to skip it to prep for court. That was an excessively stressful time and, yet, it was better than being in a hotel with hundreds of sales people attending a bunch of ra-ra meetings with little real substance or lasting benefits.

I have a big problem with the amount that is spent on this event every year, especially when we’ve laid people off and tightened already lean budgets to the bone. It seems so wasteful. This year, especially; it’s being held in a city and country where we have no offices or facilities, so *everyone* is traveling, increasing expenses drastically.

But, in an effort not to be Debbie Downer all the time, I’m going to put effort into being positive and keeping an open mind. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to go to a world class art museum, perhaps a renowned botanic garden, and maybe eat some authentic food that I can’t get in Flyover Country USA.

We’ll see how it goes. But first, I must pack today, fly away tomorrow afternoon, and arrive in Madrid Sunday morning. If I survive all that, I may be in for a cool international experience. And…fingers crossed that I come back conference-crud-free!

Be excellent to yourselves and others while I’m away.

Meandering Thoughts

Here are some vaguely-related things that have been on my mind lately:

  1. Silence is inestimably valuable and wonderfully versatile. Silence creates space. Space in which to think and breathe and be still. Space for new emotion, new words, no words, and new silence to provide relief and meaning. Silence can soothe and help heal the hurts of a rough day. But silence can also be sharp or unsettling, and can just as easily agitate as placate. But the loaded, heavy, weaponized silence – whether used in battle between two people or just between a person and her own brain – is something to be avoided.
  2. It’s sometimes very hard to resist the temptation of feeling that you are owed someone’s time and energy. But remembering, consciously reminding yourself, that that person (regardless of what your relationship with them might be) doesn’t owe you their time, attention, energy or regard, makes receiving those things from them all the sweeter.
  3. Remaining intentionally and actively, mindfully positive is a challenge at the best of times. It’s rewards are many and varied. But when there are long, gloomy, cold days and lassitude seems to outweigh initiative and imagination, active, intentional positivity can seem an impossible task.
  4. The pace by which thoughts, emotions, connections build and reform is sometimes staggering. I’ve written before about how my brain tends to connect (sometimes conflates) certain ideas or events or emotions or experiences and then stubbornly refuses to revise or release those connections. That doesn’t seem to be the way a lot of other people think or the way the world at large works. So the dizzying pace of change all around me can seem overwhelming. I often feel like an anachronism, that I’m falling behind, or that I’m too slow and clunky for the world around me. That’s part of why I work so hard at positivity. I want to at least be a bright spot in the world if I can’t be the most modern or interesting.
  5. There is beauty in the chaotic, fractal, irregularity of bare tree branches in relief against a snowy field or overcast sky. I find myself looking out my office window at the nearly monochrome winter landscape, white snow melding into white clouds at the horizon, interrupted only by black tree branches weaving lacy patterns in undulating patches here and there. Sometimes I think if I watch long enough the wisdom they’ve encoded in their branches might reveal itself to me.

Investment

Here’s something I’ve figured out and that I want you to know:

Often it is difficult to tell when someone genuinely cares about you. Other times it’s crystal clear. One thing that makes it easy to tell is investment. When someone is invested in you, your interests, your feelings, it becomes clear and undeniable that they care for you and about you.

Investment, to me, is more than mere affection. It is effort and time. It’s listening and reflecting back what you hear in words and in deeds. It is communicating as well as communing. It’s empathy and enthusiasm and encouragement. It is stomping the brain weasels when the other person can’t make them behave. It’s being vulnerable and letting that person in. It’s being brave and letting that person see parts of you that you’re not proud of having. It’s trusting so they’ll trust you. It’s being a safe and soft place for that person to land

When it matters that you care about someone or that they care about you, being invested in their happiness, their interests, their feelings is the surest way to overcome that internal saboteur’s voice that tells them not to believe, that they’re not worthy of such regard, that they don’t have value.

Being invested in someone, putting in that effort and showing them your investment…that’s one of the rarest, most potent, most beautiful gifts you can give to another person.

Still No Context

Some things that are in my head, in no particular order, and for no particular reason:

⁃ Lyrics that speak to me lately:

  • Delicate by Taylor Swift: “Is it cool that I said all that? Is it chill that you’re in my head? ‘Cause I know that it’s delicate”
  • In the Middle by Jimmy Eat World: “Hey, don’t write yourself off yet…It’s only in your head you feel left out…Or looked down on”
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cindy Lauper: “Oh girls just want to have…That’s all they really want…Some fun…When the working day is done…Oh girls, they wanna have fun”
  • Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake: “I got that sunshine in my pocket…Got that good soul in my feet…I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops…I can’t take my eyes up off it, movin’ so phenomenally”

⁃ Getting asked to participate in a substantive way in a conversation among people you respect and admire, and having those people demonstrate courtesy and respect to you for your contribution, is a pretty great ego boost.

⁃ There’s an indescribable elation that comes when you stop listening to that inner saboteur, who coats every thought and feeling with doubt and negativity, and start believing, deep down and without reservation, what caring and well-meaning friends have been telling you: you matter, you have value, you are enough.

⁃ Taking joy in small, seemingly insignificant details of life brings perspective to my world and a joy all its own. Things like the rough, unconventional beauty of a gnarled old tree silhouetted against the rising sun; misty skies and hoarfrost on the trees; the spark of excitement in seeing a text notification from a fun friend; the glow of satisfaction at achieving a personal goal; the warm comfort felt when you find kinship in the mind of friend; and the thrill of discovery when reading a brand new book or seeing a new episode of a beloved tv show.

⁃ Effort, intelligence, transparency, kindness, humor not at the expense of others, and authenticity. These are among the sexiest traits I can name in any human.

⁃ Recently discovered (only mildly) guilty pleasure: assigning a secret name inside your head to the people around you, especially those that vex or try your patience. Thinking of them with that name, and with that certain mental inflection as you pronounce it, brings a tiny sly grin to the face that others want you to explain. Don’t. It enhances the enjoyment if you keep it a mystery.

#nocontextforyou

New year, new approach to posting to this blog. I hinted in posts a few weeks ago that perhaps the purpose this blog serves in my life is evolving and that I might not need or want to be so regimented in what, how and when I add posts here. Since then, I have all but convinced myself that assessment is accurate and a change is in order.

What that change entails, its scope, and how it manifests may evolve over time. But the immediate change, likely only I will notice, is that I’m letting go of the revered weekly posting goal. I think it served its purpose and I’m happy that I was able to maintain that streak for basically the whole of last year. But the psychic pressure that has put on me is beginning to outweigh the benefits that I saw from maintaining that discipline. So, if it happens weekly, all to the good. But I’m shifting my focus to being more deliberate about posting things that have meaning for me, even if that meaning isn’t obvious to anyone else.

Apropos of that, I’m making my first 2020 post a no-context list of thoughts that are loosely related to each other and very closely tied to what’s been most on my mind the last few weeks.

In no particular order of which I’m aware:

⁃ “But in that stubborn, nearly irrational way that liars often refuse to lie to themselves, my brain, so full of lying anxiety readily dispensed in cruelty, refuses to tell me comforting lies about how safety can be achieved. Instead, still out of cruelty, it bludgeons me with the harsh truth that safety is unreachable, has dropped beyond the horizon and the only remaining path is forward through the perils.”

⁃ Sometimes perilous things are exceedingly pleasant and enjoyable.

⁃ A broad, richly detailed and imaginative vocabulary is an exceedingly beautiful thing.

⁃ Those things…or that person…that randomly pops into your mind, that instantly refocuses your attention whenever encountered, that so fully possesses your imagination and consumes your consciousness that you lose track of time? That’s your passion. Pursue it, even if you might fail. Even if failure is certain. It’s the pursuit that matters.

⁃ Rancid brain-weasels don’t deserve your attention. “Stomp them” mercilessly, as I have recently been wisely advised. Preferably while wearing some devastatingly stylish “stompy boots”! Codicil: stomping brain weasels for a friend is a kindness and a mercy.

⁃ There are few things in this life more satisfying than letters from a smart, witty, incisive, and honest correspondent.

⁃ Making room for mystery and magic in your life is never wasted effort.

⁃ Sharing your view of a colorful sky and sitting quiet and still together is among the best kinds of comfort you can find in another’s companionship, even from afar.

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