Posts tagged: life changes

Embracing the Mess

blogged at <a href="http://www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/">www.johnmundell.com/2008/02/11/kids-in-restaurant/</a> blogged at <a href="http://www.harrowdrive.com/">www.harrowdrive.com/</a...

“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Elizabeth Gilbert

“Doggone It, People Like Me” Jack Handey

I spent a lot of my younger years thinking that I was crazy, a mess, not that bright… very negative self talk. It took me many years to realize that everyone is a ‘hot mess’. That being a gloppy, bumpy, goofy, awkward human means that I am alive. That I am taking risks, putting myself out there, getting my hands dirty.

And that’s how it should be.

Change Your Self-Talk

So if you think of yourself as a mess, you’re probably doing it right. Work on changing your negative self talk to something positive:

  • Lighten up
  • It’s all good
  • I am enough (I used this affirmation for years)
  • Other people feel as awkward as I do (believe me, 95% of people do)
  • Easy does it
  • How important is it?

These days, I say, “it’s all good” nearly every day. The things I used to spend hours worrying about either never happened or whatever DID happen, I never could have predicted or prepared for.  Sure there are lots of things that happen in the world that are not “all good”- e.g. war, abuse and hunger. Today, I work to figure out what can I do something about and then do it. The rest of my awkward, weird, silly, ridiculous, lazy, lame and ludicrous self… I give her a pass.

Image credit: Enjoying the cake  Hoyasmeg

Job at Google? No Thanks.

Google, The Holy Grail of Employers

A lot has been written about interviewing and working at Google. William Poundstone has a book. Here’s an article from the NY Times, and there are probably hundreds more. My question is, what do you give up when you work at a big (50k + employees) company? (I worked 17 years at Eastman Kodak, 120K employees.)

Free food, dry cleaning,  onsite child care, convenient transportation, gyms etc.  The free sushi may flow, in some offices you can bring your dog and when you tell people you work at Google, they say wow, good for you. The list of benefits is long and generous. Only a company with huge margins could afford to offer all these.

Do Perks and Prestige Kill Innovation?

But my question is, what can you really accomplish (vs. working at a smaller company)? I know first hand the benefit of all the training and rubbing elbows with really bright people. I also know how much inertia a large corporation generates. The very thing that builds the company, is what holds it back.

Besides search, where has Google, with all it’s billions, really innovated? (I’ll give them Google Earth/Maps). They have tried in vain to create a Face Book competitor (think of Google Friend Connect, Google Wave, Google +, etc.) They have spent years trying to crack the way ‘people’ connect… and they haven’t succeeded yet.

What About YouTube?

One could make a case for YouTube. It brings people together to share, but I would suggest that YouTube’s ‘socialness’  is purely technical.

There have been almost no improvement in the interaction/social aspects of YouTube. Commenting is just as linear and lame as it’s always been. There’s no way to see comments in the context of the where it might be relevant in the video. Every time they come out with an “upgrade”, I think oh, good, they’re finally going to improve the viewers experience. But no, the upgrades make things easier for YouTube.

Look, if you want to work at Google, great. I wish you well and I know you’ll meet lots of smart, interesting people. If you want to really use all parts of your brain and general capacity… then I hope you aim for a smaller company. Let me know how it’s going, wherever you work.

Photo Credit: William Poundstone

Live Gently, Let Go Gracefully

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Ugh, it’s hard to be gentle and graceful when the world makes me mad. And it’s especially hard to let go of things that I think I want or keep me comfortable.

Live Gently

  1.  For me, it means, walking and talking softly. I have a very loud voice. I talk fast and with enthusiasm. I overwhelm some people. So I work on slowing down, quieting down, think of my edges as being rounded not square.
  2. I try not to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’; I prefer experiences.
  3. Reacting to other people’s perceptions of me is a waste of time. The core of who I am is (I hope) unassailable.

Let Go Gracefully

Really? This is not my strong suit. If you’ve come into the orbit of my life then I think it’s my job to help you. But many people come and go and don’t need anything from me. They need a smile, maybe a kind word.

  1. If I am struggling with something or someone, that’s because I have not accepted “it” as it is. I want to change it, shape it or fix it.
  2. I have had particular struggles letting go at work. When money is concerned, I tend to be rigid, fearful. This comes from growing up poor.
  3. Change is hard. If I can create the change, then it’s easier for me to accept (I’m more graceful?) But when it is imposed on me, my back goes up. Letting go of what I know or believe is like bleeding. I’m right; when in truth, I may be wrong.

In the search for serenity (note: as distinct from happiness), walking softly and letting go gracefully are key.

Image Credit: Buddha Quotes

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

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Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

If you’ve been fired in the past year or two and it was your first time, you might still feel bad about it. I was fired 3 times (well, technically fired twice and laid off once). The first time, I worked in a shoe store in high school. They wanted me to recommend other stuff when people bought shoes. Couldn’t do it. So, I was fired. The next time,  I had been promised by my boss’s boss that things would change in the workplace…they didn’t change, I was insubordinate. The third time, I had pre-negotiated a leave date so technically it was a lay off. (I was never fired for cause!)

The first time I was devastated. The second time I thought the world would end. The third time was, no big deal. Every time I left a job involuntarily, something better turned up next.

I’m In Good Company

For inspiration, glance at this article, “21 Great Successes Who Got Fired.” The list is pretty impressive …

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Walt Disney
  • Truman Capote
  • Lady Gaga

The list of athletes who failed is long but one stands out… Michael Jordan. He was cut from his high school basketball team. Think about Jennifer Hudson. An American Idol loser who went on to win Oscar.

Whatever is happening with you right now, know that good things are going to happen for you. Hold on for one more day. I believe in you.

Image credit: Getting Fired: A Blessing

The Beauty of the Winter Garden

It’s Not Beautiful, It’s Dead

In the middle of winter, we think about the green of summer, the abundance of the garden, the color of the flowers and wish that things were different. We forget to look at the garden as beautiful. If we take a few minutes and look carefully, we’ll see many unexpected things. First, we’ll see more shades of white, black and gray than we thought possible. We’ll see the outline of things that are blocked by the leaves and greenery. We might notice the hardiness of the evergreen or the way grasses turn brown and yet still blow in the wind. But we must pay attention to see these things.

It’s Dead and It’s Beautiful

Just like in life, we might dismiss a person who doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ the way we think they should or we might miss the importance of kindness in everyday life. If kindness is the stem and roots, then it will be present no matter the season.  The joy of appreciating the winter garden is that it teaches us to appreciate our days in all their phases – happy, sad, structured, confusing, etc. . Think about how the winter garden shows us how to accept wherever we are and even find joy and beauty there.

Photo credit: Winter Garden  Ms. Lea

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) Makes Everything Worse

When I find myself stressed, I try to remember to check for these 4 things before I do or say anything else.

Hungry

I’m not good when I’m hungry. I can get snippy and rude. It’s not my intention, but it happens. I’ve learned over the years to keep a granola bar or some nuts with me so I don’t snap. I love chocolate but I find if I eat candy, that only helps for a little while, then I crash and feel worse. If I check my hunger first, it’s easier for me to check on the other triggers.

Angry

For people living with dysfunction, this is a constant. Growing up with alcoholics, I found comfort in chaos. I know this sounds strange but it’s what I knew best so when things were calm, I was uncomfortable.  I was angry at circumstances outside of my control. I didn’t know how to channel my energy into positive actions. Fortunately, I got help and learned to recognize this behavior. A lot of my anger was ‘stuffed’ down because ‘girls’ aren’t supposed to get angry. It’s not ladylike  (I hate that expression). So what’s a person to do with all those negative feelings? Some of us turn them on ourselves by eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, starving, whatever… to help us forget, to help us cope. But none of those help us process our anger and figure out how to move forward. I learned to beat the bed with a tennis racket, scream as loud as I can, put on loud music and dance around, throw plastic containers at the wall (gratifyingly noisy without any serious cleanup.)

Lonely

This one is easy to recognize and harder (in my opinion) to solve. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting out and being with people, even strangers. But most of the time, loneliness is cured by being with someone who really cares about me and who knows how to show it. This can be hard to find. I had to write down, on paper, the names of people that I could turn to when I was lonely. Why? Because in my mind, I was alone. The list helped to remind me that there were people and I could call them just to say hi, listen to their voices and feel better.

Tired

This is alternatively the easiest and the hardest to resolve. Chronic tiredness is normal in modern living.  So the easy thing to do is to just stop and rest. The hard thing to do is to figure out how to get everything done and still have time to rest. I have no suggestions. We each have to find our own way.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, think of HALT, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Check each one and see what you can do to address these BEFORE you respond to the boss, your peer, your spouse, your child, etc. Teach your kids about H.A.L.T. It’s a life skill that provides life long benefits.

Image credit: windowlight

Fear, I Feel You

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“I feel you, Fear, and I’m moving forward.” Chris Brogan

Fear and Failure

These are 2 sides of the same negative coin. We are taught to deny fear and fear failure. In my experience, this is self-defeating. Think about this other quote from the wonderful Chris Brogan, “Use fear to inform you, but never let it guide you.”

Get It Out

While it’s hard to face the fear, you can make it work for you. Here are few ways:

  1. Use role models – If you think people who accomplish great things are not afraid, please think again. They are just as terrified as everyone else. Maybe more. But they use the power of fear and even anger to move forward. If you have a ‘hero’, read their story. If you can speak to them, ask them about fear. You’ll learn a lot and get fuel for your own fear-crushing fire.
  2. Get an outlet – some people sing, some write, some punch something, some talk it out. Others just keep it inside, this is the worst. Find a way to let it out. Here are some of my favorites: hit a tennis racket on the bed, take the car out to the highway and scream (really loud), put on loud music and dance around with big motions and lots of stomping, take plastic containers and whip them at the wall. They make a satisfying noise, they bounce around and nothing breaks.
  3. Once you’ve got it out, focus on moving forward. If you need help, Chris Brogan has a program – Twenty Minute Plan.

I believe in you. Believe in yourself.

Image credit:  Inspiring quotes

I’ll Do It Myself – Independence Is Overrated

I Hate Asking for Help

I HATE asking for help. In my world, asking for help is not only a sign of weakness, but, as I learned from an early age,  asking for help often means I won’t get any. My family tried, but they just were not in a position to be there for me. So as a result, I’m lousy at figuring out what I need and then asking other people to help me.

Independence Is Overrated

The problem with thinking that I have to do everything myself is that:

  • It’s tiring
  • I’m not that good at a lot of stuff
  • It’s lonely
  • Other people resent it
  • I don’t give people a chance to show their support and love for me

Is It My Ego Talking?

There’s also an element of ego in “not asking.” As if, when I reveal a need and someone helps me, I might owe them something and then I can’t do whatever I want. Ego is very bad reason not to ask for help and tricky to recognize.

Balance Is The Goal

Being too dependent is equally bad. Not stepping up, getting too comfortable, manipulating others to do my work, etc. This is very bad also. This, however, isn’t my problem. I try to solve my problems and everyone else’s. Even if people don’t want my help. So now I work on paying attention to what I need and help others in a way that I can (when asked).

While it’s painful for me to ask for help, I have to keep trying. It takes more confidence to request help than it does to ‘go it alone.’ Arrggghhh. I hate it!

Image credit: Asking for help

No Is A Complete Sentence

What I Learned

My grandmother used to say, if someone offers you something and you don’t want it… say, “not today, try me tomorrow.” I thought she was nuts (well, she was, but not for saying that.) Women are taught to say yes. We are rewarded for saying yes… “Yes, I’ll make dinner and do the dishes.” Yes, I’ll volunteer at the school. Yes, I’ll run those errands, put a band aid on that cut, work that extra shift and on and on. I never learned to say no. I learned to try to please people, even at the expense of my own well being.

 Why I Can’t Just Say Yes All The Time

So I had to learn to say no. One “no” at a time. It was hard. Every time I said no, I felt like I was disappointing everyone. Then it began to dawn on me. I’m not the only person who can do whatever needs to get done. Often, I wasn’t even the best person to do it. When I said no, it gave someone else a chance to give, to help, to learn, to show they cared. Who knew?

The Power of No

Who knew I could say no, feel better about myself and provide someone else with an opportunity? I didn’t know it then but I know it now.  If you are one of the lucky people who learned to say no early in life, I envy you. I’m going to be watching you, to see how you do it.

Image Credit: No is a complete sentence

You’re a Genius – Everyday

Why We Judge Others

Did you judge someone today? Maybe you’re not even aware of it. It’s a habit and way of thinking in modern society. Anytime we think we know what someone “should” do, we are judging. In the quote above, Einstein gives us an idea of how to check if we are being judgmental.

Judgement is a problem because it makes others feel “less than” and doesn’t give room for live and let live.

There is a difference between stating your position and putting someone else down. My aunt Dorothy (b. 1899 d. 1998) taught me by example that judging people is not only a waste of time, but also, doesn’t contribute to one’s overall well being. Here’s an example.

Don’t Try Harder, Try Different

Let’s talk about the rights of gay Americans. Whether you like it or believe it’s ‘natural’ is beside the point. Let’s talk about the right to carry a gun. Whether you like it or think its good for society is beside the point.

The point is to listen not judge. If I judge the person who is gay or who wants to carry a gun everywhere, then I miss the opportunity to grow, to see the world from someone else’s point of view. I miss the opportunity to keep an open mind, to learn, to change, to adjust. I just dig my heels in and build walls. I judge that fish by it’s ability to climb a tree. Not. relevant.

There Is No Grapefruit at the Hardware Store

You can’t get grapefruit at the hardware store. If I am always mad when I leave the hardware store (for it’s lack of ANY fruit) – whose fault is that?

The point is to find a balance between having an opinion/belief and being open minded enough to get along, go along and help make things better. The key word is compromise. Lighten up a little. Pay attention to when you “judge”. What are you afraid of that makes you dig your heels in?

Image credit: You’re a genius all the time.