Take the Cake

Houston is incomprehensible. The scenes of people fleeing with water above their necks, The narratives of people who fled Katrina, moved to Houston and are fleeing yet again. People have lost everything. It will take years and years of recovery. I’m just going to eat cake. I started a new job in February with a new team. Two left the team in June and this past week, the two of my peers quit. Cake for breakfast.  As a small nine year old bookish kid, a tall popular kid stopped a mean kid from beating me up. No, we did not become best friends, there were no other words said, but I am so grateful. She saved me; so compassionate. She died yesterday. I’ll just finish off this cake now.

You can’t have your cake and eat it (too) is a popular English idiomatic proverb or a figure of speech. The proverb literally means “you cannot simultaneously retain your cake and eat it”. Once the cake is eaten, it is gone. A lot of things are gone this week. Many things leave an impact and shape our lives. Sometimes we need a moment. There will be more experiences, more loss and cake. This week, just a take a moment.

 

How Ya Doing?

How are you doing? The clerk caught my eyes, and he knew I meant it and admitted, “I know I’m suppose to say I’m good, but I am tired. I have school, two jobs and I’ve not had a day off in 10 days.”  With that, we could have a conversation. The exchange left me to question,  the harm we do when we say,” it’s all good?” Has social media conditioned us to say only good things, to curate our lives as perfect? Are we trained to express any concern, frustration or anger with a touching photo, emoji or a repost of some popular meme. After all, no one wants to be labeled a complainer. With all of that,  have we lost the ability to express emotions or do we assume people don’t mean it when they ask how are you doing?

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to have empathy. We have an ability to pick up on audio and visual cues. The glib, however polite response, neurologically messes with something. You sense one thing yet a response registers as false.  A casual encounter does not mean you press someone into details and don’t stop until you get what you deem to be an acceptable response, some things aren’t for you to know. But, what you can do in the case of an, its all good which runs contrary to what you sense , just say, OK, you look/sound a little  distracted/off/ tired. Don’t push them to acknowledge how they feel, just say what you sense and stop. Likewise, when someone asks, how are you doing, it’s not necessary to go into a list or report of what’s happening. You can say, thanks for expressing an interest, it’s a little rough right now, but I’ll get through it.

At work, in life, in relationships, it’s not all perfect. A rough spot in one area can distract us from others. It’s ok to say it’s not the best day. Your communities of work, friends and families are what support you. Give them a chance, and this week, stop, pause and ask yourself, how are you doing?

 

Eclipse Part 2: Moondance

We’re getting eclipsed. There is a total solar eclipse visible in the US. For more than three years, I have posted a new blog post every Monday until last week. I posted eclipsed part one on Friday. After all, there are times to break the routine and do something different. When do you break routine? When do you shift priorities. On eclipse day, it’s unusual, it has priority and I’m going to stop, pause and figure out where I need to do things differently. It’s time to find some balance on some unstable surfaces.

 

 

 

 

 

Eclipse Part 1: Oh, A Storm is Threat’ing

It’s about to get dark in the US. Over 7 million people will travel to specific sites and millions more will participate in local events. Participation and interest are optional, but, awareness is not. There is a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017.  There is no pain when you stare at the moon blotting out the sun, there is only awe. The visual distortion and blindness comes hours later, which is why you need awareness not to look with the naked eye. In ancient times, a total solar eclipse induced fear, uncertainty and doubt. That pretty much sums up the political climate in the US today. Emotions are high, nerves are frayed, psyches are fatigued. Monday reminds us how to survive. With sudden darkness, you stop, you get your bearings and figure out what is going on. Is everyone OK? When it goes dark, it’s not about what you’re against, but it’s unity in what you’re for to move ahead. United we stand, divided we fall. On Monday, it will go dark.  Monday is an opportunity for you to pause, find your balance and determine how you stand united.

 

Oh, a storm is threat’ing
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade way

Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
Our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost its way

from Gimme Shelter, Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, 1969

Life Interrupted; The Stories We Tell

I hadn’t planned on anyone I know dying this week.  I don’t have special powers or control over the universe to know when these things are going to happen. My reaction this week was not out of surprise as much as it was denial.  She was just a couple of years younger than me. With her birthday in June, and mine in July, it was dinner one night in August a few years ago and I contemplated getting older and what’s next.  My friend in a matter of fact tone said,  “I’ve had a double lung transplant, it’s not something I tell people, I don’t want to be known for that, I’m not going to have a next.” Touched by her trust in me, knowing I wouldn’t tell anyone or view her as any different, I said, “Well, here’s to living in the now.

The news of her death and lung transplant confused me. She didn’t want to be seen as that. For a day, I felt as I had betrayed a trust, though I had not said anything. I was agitated and only calmed down when a friend said to me, “She trusted you.”  Only then was my head clear enough to understand life and death are different. We want to celebrate, we need the inspiration of the departed, we tell their stories to fill the void they have left behind. The big reveal of the person she really was and gives hope and inspiration for a life well lived. When a childhood friend died from AIDS,  the family didn’t  speak of it, wouldn’t acknowledge it. The money in lieu of flowers were made to unrelated cause; heartbreaking. We could not celebrate in death who that person fully was in life with the family. It was a relief during a neighbor’s memorial when the eulogizers spoke openly of his suicide. It opened another channel of grief some were dealing with it and gave voice to a struggle. Then there are times when we’re done. I was jolted into numbness by an NBC Dateline trailer last September. The moment was surreal, I knew the murder victim and I knew the story. We’re a team of remote workers, when she wasn’t on an 8:00 am call, a member of the team in Chicago, Illinois immediately called the Austin, Texas police for a wellness check and they found her body. A small memorial in New York with our team broke me; I was done with that and what felt like sensationalism to get TV viewers set be back.  I thought back to the memorial when we all said her tagline,  “Ole” in her honor. That centered me and helped to get my balance back. Yes, shared grief and remembrances foster healing. We need the memorials, we need those stories when we get thrown off. The memorials in the forms they take are for those of us with lives interrupted.

The last week in June, I walked to meet a friend for lunch. We were both pretty happy because people say, “let’s do lunch,” and it doesn’t happen. Now that I’d moved, this would be easy. Time got away from us and we left the restaurant and walked briskly down the street, no leisurely stroll for us.. We did a quick hug, I said, “We’ll do this again when I get back from Bangkok” and she ran north to catch the shuttle bus back to work and I walked south. Yup, that’s my final memory of my friend Toni, running to catch a bus. She may be gone there are hilarious memories (the fire, spare keys and a hula hoop – you had to be there.)  In death, people will tell your story. In life, you shape the narrative. Are you living in the now or for what’s next? What is your story?  Is it what you want?

Balancing on Unstable Surfaces: Bangkok Dangerous

No one knows where I am including me. I’m in a barely motorized vehicle that looks like an adult sized baby stroller attached to a motorcycle with Mr Lindht. The man at Wat Pho convinced me to take “easy way to marble temple” and then instructed my driver in Thai. As soon as we pull into traffic, I think,  crapoloa, what have I done? I’m in the middle of Bangkok, a city of 13  million people, this could be a kidnapping. This could be my last few moments of freedom before forced into the sex trade. I realize the traffic stops are long. I’m in boot and a dress¹; I can jump out and run. I shift my canvas bag so I’m ready to swing it as a weapon the moment I sense anything is wrong. As I look around,  I see many tourists in this tuk tuk contraption. Back to reality, girl you are older; your temples are gray in a kind a bride of frankenstein way, and you’re black in an Asian country that favors fair complexions.  I literally laughed out loud, leaned back and enjoyed the rest of the day.² Anything I knew about Thailand was from a two hour google search and film. This was real life; not Bangkok Dangerous or Atomic Blonde. I’m not about to pen a  memoir, Nuclear Negro, that will be optioned for film giving me a five million dollar profit.

Of the 16 countries I have visited, the hotels inform you of imminent danger and this place had none. We’re ingrained to look for danger. Crossing a street? You look both ways. But, there is this dance of naive and street smart and finding a good balance between possibility and reality. I created a low probability worse case scenario. It’s easy to create disaster scenarios at home, at work,and in relationships that only exist in your head. That’s where the danger starts, you start to believe this farfetched probability and begin acting as if it is eminent. Sometimes, the only real danger is being so absorbed in a remote possibility, you miss  life going on around you.

 

 

¹ Me at the marble temple in my dress and boots.

²Hopefully some part of this will resonate with you, because I just publicly admitted to a most embarrassing episode.

 

Goals, Discipline and Motivation: A Feat to the Head?

You are not stuck. Sure, people like to think they are, but they aren’t. You are not in the same place now that you were three years ago. Seriously, unless you have been in a coma for 36 months, you faced  obstacles, changes, emotional turmoil along with moments of sheer joy and laughter. Honest reflection helps you see where you’re destructive; how you put yourself into situations that were not to your best interest. Thoughtful recollection makes you happy at what you conquered and how you persevered.

July 2014, blog post #1

This is blog post #160, a number of no particular significance. I’ve been posting weekly since July 16, 2014. My goal to inform, entertain and provoke thought; I am disciplined to write weekly. Why do I keep doing it? I’m motivated by the comments and responses. It’s the proof point that people are reading and that my content is making a difference.  It takes a goal, discipline and motivation to make something happen. The combination of the worthiness of the goal and the frequency of the motivation keeps you going. I fear scorpion chin stand. These photos were taken three years apart, I did not initially thing my feet would sit on my head. The pose still scares me, but I do it anyway. My yoga goal is to stay mobile as I age. The discipline is to do three classes a week, though lately I seem to only manage one. My motivation are the days when I find myself doing something I once struggled with.

July 2017

On a good day¹, when all is well, write down what you want in the next three years. Be fearless in the moment, this is just for you. Next, write your wants as goals, my goal is to <fill in the blank>. Do not limit yourself. When you have finished, look at your list and mark any goal you are fearful of. Explore why. Would the goal be life changing? Think back to the opening exercise, your life has changed in the last three years, either intentionally or not.  Why not guide where you want to go?  The worthiness of a goal, commitment to the discipline and frequency of motivation are a powerful combination to get what you want. The question is, are you ready to be fearless?

 

 

 

 

¹I was discussing this with my nephew and he mentioned something he’d read, when you’re listing the pros and cons of your job, do it when you’re having a good day. I think the same is true of this exercise.  You can do it at any time, but you’ll probably have a better perspective if you do it on a good day. And if you don’t have good days, egads, get work immediately.

%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this:
%d bloggers like this: