Subjectively Failing – Finding effective practices to survive it, thrive or escape with our lives

This evening I was made aware that I am subjectively failing. I am not meeting expectations of others.

Before hearing this report, I would have classified myself as happy.

If you had observed me as a cartoon, you might have witnessed me flying along, in the black and white cartoon shape of Sylvester the Cat. You would have noticed a single yellow feather held in each of my forepaws that I flapped as if my paws had opposable thumbs and my fore limbs worked like human shoulders, if not tweety bird wings.

There’s no rhyme nor reason as to why or who my forward progress persists in this vision. There is even less rhyme and reason as to what it is that keeps me aloft.

I will share a secret. They both derive from sheer positive will power.

Then as I flitter along up to an actual Tweetie Bird, the yellow being that has just a couple more feathers than I hold, says aloud, “Silly putty tat, you can’t fly.”

From the subjective perspective of a tweety bird, no putty cat can fly.

As the force of these subjective determinations seep in to my objective consciousness, they unleash an inner subjective wrath on my will power.

I glance stupidly towards you, the person glancing in at this scene unfolding. We lock eyes for just a moment. We both know what is going to happen next.

I plummet from the sky.

I have subjectively failed. I did not fail in my attempt to fly. (I was a successful flying putty cat for a while.)

I have sujectively failed because I allowed the subjectivity of another to soak in and cloud my own inner and real knowledge of what I was doing.

I was flying.

But once the subjective cloud of another clawed its way in, I failed to fly any further. I failed to make forward progress and achieve my goal. I failed to stay aloft. I crash to the ground, but you will not see the crash.  (Maybe the subsequent remains of a crater…)

This account is a description of the Tweetie Bird Principle.

I have shared this concept of the Tweetie Bird Principle for decades. I am not aware of its providence. I might personally be responsible for some, if not all of it, or none of it.

That doesn’t matter.

My subjective failing is the result of two parties actions.

  1. A being that chooses to judge me, does so and deems me a failure, even if their judgment is not based on the facts of what their eyes show them. Then they choose again to communicate their subjective failure determination to me.
  2. My choice to hear them, to comprehend their words, to internalize those words and to accept the validity of their judgment despite the knowledge and facts that their judgment is incorrect.

I have no control over others. I can not control whether anyone engages in the first action.

I CAN choose not to engage in the first action myself.

I CAN choose to not hear anyone that would attempt to communicate the results of the first action to me.

I CAN choose not to internalize those words.

I CAN choose to pay attention to my real progress and results and abilities and not let a subjective outside perspective overrule what I can see, feel, hear and know through my own volition.

 

I have another option. A way to help the putty cat avoid the fall or at least the impact of the fall.

I can read this article. I can rewrite the tweetie bird principle (as I have done here) but in the words that I am feeling at the time.

I can know that the subjectivity of others need not bring me down when that subjectivity diverges from my reality. (This is not a case where I am trying to convince myself of something that is not real. The goal is not to ignore objective realities.)

I can choose to recognize the subjective failure assessments of others and disregard them when they are not accurate.

This is even more important when those failure assessments come ‘mid-flight’.

Simple Example –

  • If someone says “You can’t fly.”
  • Review, to check if you know, see, feel and experience the reality that you ARE flying.
  • Then, Do not believe the subjective failure assessment. Do not make it a reality.
  • Go through the above, recognize the subjectivity of the information that has been shared.
  • Promptly disregard it.
  • Continue flying.

It’s like a spell to receive one of these subjective failure notices.

It is also like a counter spell to fend one off.

There is a process for both, a practice.

 

All of us are capable of knowing that any person we might encounter might have an extra crappy day such that their negativity might infect our outlook, our capabilities, our results.

Knowing this is possible is like knowing that we might climb Mt Everest.

Knowing this thing does not make it so. Knowing it is possible does not give us the skills to do it.

So to actually do it, to fend off this negativity hit. I am sharing this one example of how to deflect it.

Another equally valid way is to verbally call the sharer of this type of thing, to call them on their actions.

It might go something like, “Thank you, I have never considered it from that perspective. You might even be correct.” and then flying on and giving it as much further thought as necessary but not internalizing it.

It might also go something like “Don’t dump your negative bullshit on me and try to bring me down.”  (note this might help you avoid falling from the sky, but what really has happened here is that you have fought Step 1 by turning the attack back on the attacker and attacking them with Step 1 too! You have judged their actions and expressed that subjective judgment.  They might feel even worse, drop down another level and the exchange will turn to an argument or fight. At best, you might escape unharmed personally, but you will have harmed them to escape.)

I’d love it if you have other techniques whether perfect or imperfect. Please share what works for you below, but I’d ask that you take that extra introspective step of reviewing your own method to determine if you are escaping and doing no harm or if you are harming others to protect your own retreat.  I am not dismissing this latter effort. Sometimes we do the best we can.

I do think it is helpful to learn multiple ways. Practice and knowledge can help us improve. Some imperfect practices might even be refined into a more perfected alternative as well. Let’s explore and find a good way!

 

Practicing Hand stands in the Dining Room

My view on Yoga & my Yoga Studio after two years of practice

I attend a yoga studio called Sundara Yoga.  I have gone there for a little over two years.

I started practicing yoga regularly at the age of 42, 25 years after I had practiced it last as a teenager.  I had felt for a couple of years that I should take up yoga again, but it wasn’t until a couple of days after my wife of 23 years and I decided to divorce.  (It was a surprise to me.)

I was broken and reeling mentally and emotionally. I suddenly could not sleep. I could barely get through the days. My Doctor prescribed sleeping pills, which did not work and gave me a feeling like I had a sinus infection.  I would walk for miles and hours to relieve stress and anxiety. It helped a small bit while I was doing it, but as soon as I slowed down the stress and anxiety would hit me full force.

Yoga brought me peace. I started going to Sundara almost every day. They offered a 21 classes for $20 plan initially.  I think I made it to about 19 of those 21 classes.  While this was probably good marketing, it also made sense from the perspective of building a healthy new habit. Going once a week, simply would not have set the positive habit as effectively.

Walking gave me a bit of relief almost like a pause button. As soon as the pause ended, the volume came back on at full volume.

Yoga gave me a different type of relief. It was more like rebooting a computer. During a 75 minute session, yoga demands a focus on the movements, the stretches and how our body is or is not working.  We have to focus so much that the anxiety and depression or stress or our inner voice worrying about these things, it is silenced for much of that practice time.  Yoga ends with a meditative ‘cool down’ portion. Our bodies relax and our minds can ‘reboot’ (my concept to understand it).

Coming out of a yoga session, is like starting up a brand new computer. We do not have all those programs running at the same time, distracting us and preventing us from dealing with any single program let alone all of them.

The silence and the reboot allow us a moment to focus on what we need to do next, and then we can crank up the program to do that thing.

Now for me, at the height of the pain and sorrow of loss, I desperately needed this reboot each day.  I found that the reboot was only good for about 24-36 hours.  Then I would need to practice again and reboot again.

I was living through a crisis and trying to heal from the shock of the trauma that initiated the crisis. So it was easy for me to get maxed out on the stress and anxiety of all those things that had happened and the things I needed to do to start a new life.

I learned a great deal about myself during this time. I rebuilt myself physically and mentally. I lost 30 pounds that first month. Six months later, I even had visible abs.

I was not really looking for a new physique. I simply wanted to survive and be happy.

The physical exercise aspect of yoga was a bi-product, a side effect. The real benefit for me in practicing yoga was the mental and emotional improvements I found.

I learned to heal my wounds. I learned to find peace. I learned to let go of the things I could not control (anxiety). I learned to forgive myself and others for the past (depression). I became a better father. I became more functional in many of the things I did. I learned to make better choices about priorities in life.

Two years later, I am still working on these things. I am not in the same place that I started.  I feel as if I am ascending a mountain, not by walking up switch backs, but by circling around the mountain in a spiral of never-ending improvements and new perspectives that bring back to places that are similar to where I have been before. They are not the same. I heal and grow more with each passing and I keep making progress.

During the first month and over the last two years, I have found that practicing multiple styles of yoga benefited me greatly. I often chose my classes in the early days based on when I could fit it into my day. It did not matter if I went in the morning, mid day, or in the evening as long as I made it there!

Different yoga instructors teach at different times throughout the day. They all had different styles, approaches and all helped me get different results.

Some sessions helped me get stronger, some helped me unwind and become more limber. They all helped me sweat and breath out toxins from stress that had accumulated in my body over decades.  They helped me to reflect on the past and work out the toxic thoughts that had accumulated too. Some instructors were younger than I am and some were older.  They all had different levels of strength and capabilities that were inspirational, but the help they provided in terms of giving me space to be and heal and move on was amazing.

Post Yoga Glow on Top of Crowder's Mountain

Post Yoga Glow on Top of Crowder’s Mountain

I have since practiced yoga in other studios around the country. I have done yoga on my own using my memory, apps, YouTube videos and more. I have done yoga on top of mountains, at the beach, on a paddle board, at breweries and the White Water Center.  I have practiced with hundreds of people and by myself or with only a yoga instructor in the room.

The diversity of instructors and settings and styles and approaches, they all help me get in touch with some new aspect of myself, some new thing that needs to be healed or rebuilt.

I have written this as something of a primer for myself. I am going to write a testimonial for my studio that might be used in a magazine article that is either interviewing or featuring Sundara.

Writing succinctly is not something that always flows easily for me!

This has been something of a brainstorm to help me attempt to zero in on some of the more important sentiments that I hope to cover in something shorter. 🙂

Funny thing happened on the way to writing the actual testimonial…

I had been writing sitting on my girlfriend’s couch. This particular couch is one that I normally avoid when I’m working, because it is far TOO comfortable. As this couch goes, it was making me tired.

All this talk about yoga, inspired me to walk out onto the porch and try a hand stand to go upside down, get some blood flowing to my brain and wake up!

I found a spot that I had not tried a hand stand in before. I stretched a bit as I hung at the waist and let my arms reach the deck boards.  I wasn’t feeling terribly limber (had previously hiked up Elk Knob just outside of Boone.

Leaving one foot on the ground, I reached out with my right foot lifting it up.  Then I proceeded to hop up with my left foot pushing off, once twice, OUCH!!!

I managed to kick the railing on the porch with the under side of my right foot!

I then proceeded to write the testimonial below while standing on an ice pack and laughing at myself! (The picture of me doing a handstand is from months earlier.)

What can I say about a place that helped me save my own life and helped me rebuild my life too?

Two years ago, I found Sundara Yoga in Lowell through my friend Martha Blanchard, who happens to be the owner too. I was broken emotionally, reeling from a surprise divorce. The Sundara community of instructors and other members (all yogis) took me in and gave me space to heal.

The practice of yoga itself gives me the ability to reboot my brain each time I practice well.  Unlike walking, running, exercising, swimming (exercises for the body), Yoga is not just a physical exercise but a balancing of the mind with the heart and the body.  As a tech person, it feels that might mental computer gets completely rebooted. Without it, I’d have too many little programs, tasks, thoughts blazing through my mind to the point where I could not multi task any of them well.  Yoga lets me reset and reboot, so that I can focus and run the one program that I need when I need it.

Physically, it has made me far stronger than I have ever been. Stronger than when I served in the Army. Stronger than when I used to run 10 miles a day. Stronger than when I was a teenager. Yet, the strength and physical capabilities are all side effects compared to the mental benefits and how that helps me to align with my purpose and heart.

Flash (a) Light

Flash (a) Light – My Namaste moment at a George Clinton Concert in Charlotte

(Unfortunately maybe) No drugs were used to experience this beautiful epiphany.

I experienced a George Clinton P-Funk concert last night for the first time.

This was a bucket list concert for me!

Before the concert, I had a great day with work and spent part of the day with YouTube videos of George Clinton performances playing in the background to help get me in the right frame of mind.

I have learned that going to a concert ‘cold’ is not as enjoyable as making space to get in concert mode early.

Towards the end, YouTube randomly served up a PBS documentary about George Clinton that is about an hour-long.  This was less of a ‘music’ documentary and more of a ‘story’ of George Clinton’s life and art and the people that he has influenced throughout his long amazing career.

As I write this, I believe Geoge Clinton is about 75 years young, and he definitely makes 75 look young!

The documentary gave me a couple of key insights, or planted the seeds at least for later. I also read through some Facebook posts of other people going to the concert. One guy mentioned,

I always bring a flashlight to George Clinton concerts for the Flashlight song.

Watching the documentary, one of the artists mentioned, “I realized that George Clinton was using flash light as a verb, not as a noun.” It was not a flashlight as in a device, but people flashing their light on others. It was a guide to flash (a) light, specifically, our light on others.

This was very emblematic of George Clinton’s career. He has worked with a lot of artists, and his stage show is jam-packed full of artists, who appeared like a mix of long time friends and partners and some new up and coming artists as well.

As a person, musician and producer among other things, he lives his words, he doesn’t just preach the gospel.

So I am at the concert, and I don’t recognize the version of every song. As concerts go, the first couple songs are warming me and the audience up and I’m not totally into them. Some, I have never heard before, however, I can see from the extremely diverse audience, that different pockets of people recognize one version or song and other pockets recognize others.

It’s a jazz kind of thing. It’s not a specific rendition of a specific recording, it’s a fusion of whatever comes up that night maybe. This is my impression.

I people watch others grooving on versions I do not recognize. I start grooving on them grooving. Then, the music connects.

I went to the concert with my love, Sharon. We had a busy week. She drove two hours to meet me and go to the concert. We enjoyed an amazing dinner at a tapas place near me called Luna Hombre, and then quickly jumped over to the NC Music Factory to catch George Clinton’s performance at the Fillmore.

I can feel that she’s a bit tired and not catching the groove as quickly.

At some point, the crowd had filled in and she is in front of me. I sense(nonverbally, she is talking to me but I can’t hear a word. This is a George Clinton concert!) , she needs a break from the lights flashing in her face from the stage, and maybe also from the large guy with a beard that is mostly standing there and occasionally holding up his cell phone. His friends are dancing and grooving. One small guy spends the first half of the show dancing and texting, looking down in his phone. He’s enjoying the show, but totally in his phone. Not judging, just witnessing.

So Sharon, wisely, moves around so that she is behind me and we are holding hands with her arms wrapped around me.

The set goes through a transition, more of a rock, metal portion where they are channeling Jimi Hendrix and the vibrations from the guitar are powerful.

Vibrations are hitting me right in the heart, right through Sharon’s hands under my hands on my heart.  The white lights of the stage light up my face at times and my eyes close, and I just soak it in.

It reminds me of some intense moments I have had during yoga. I can feel the light, the vibrations, Sharon’s love for me, my love for me, just drenching me and going straight to my heart. We are moving and I can feel her pressed close. Her breasts are heaving and pulsing just below my shoulder blades. I am having this beautifully sensual moment.

George Clinton PFunk concert

I only took a couple quick pictures at the concert. I was soaking it in with my eyes, not my iPhone.

Flash (a) Light

Eventually, the Flash light song comes on.

I am wearing a vest and have two small flashlights that I picked up from the store for about a buck each. I had to test about 40 flashlights to find the pair that still had working batteries. As I came through security, I had to empty my pockets to be wanded. There is a no laser pointer rule. The guard tells me, I may have to give up the flashlights. I explain, that I bring them for the Flashlight song, its part of the experience I say. (I am filled with knowledge from the guys post on Facebook.) I have no clue. It doesn’t stop me from selling it. I start to sing the flashlight song in the line with other people waiting to be wanded behind me. The guard lets me take them in with the warning that he might have to take them away from me later if I don’t use them wisely or something. (I start to recognize how absurd the flashlight as a device thing is.)

So the Flashlight song comes on and I don’t recognize the opening of the song.

I’m not quite ready.

I try to get the flashlight out of my right pocket. It’s stuck.

Vest pockets are made for pocket watches and that is about it.

I fiddle with the light in my left pocket. It comes out a little easier, but I’m losing the groove of the song.

I then go back to the light in my right pocket, but it’s stuck and it’s not coming out!

I click on the light and start waving it above my head and dancing.

There is someone else near the stage that has a flashlight too. Someone else has an electric glow stick flashlight..

That’s it! Flashlights are not a thing. 😉

Duh! Flash light is a verb!

The documentary, the feelings, the crowd through the rest of the night, it all makes sense.

Towards the end, we are near a guy. He looks a whole lot like Easy E reincarnated, but  he has gray hair. He is recognizing and grooving to some of the more obscure riffs and versions of songs towards the end. I can imagine him twenty or thirty years ago being completely mesmerized and influenced by this music, by the comic book art on the albums, by the freedom that the entire Funk and Pfunk movement brings.

I do not lose my groove the rest of the night.

I am flashing my light on everyone, on Sharon, on George Clinton and is troop of amazing performers.

I am sending out love to my brother, who had an angiogram earlier in the day.

I am sending out love to my family members. I(We) lost two Great Uncles(for me, fathers and grandfathers to some of them) in the last few days.

I am not really, mourning, their passing. I am celebrating their lives. One is going to have a memorial celebration next summer. He had said for years that he wanted to live to see the Cubs win the world series. His dream came true and his bucket list was completed.

The other Great Uncle is one of the most positive people in my family (maybe next to or just slightly beyond his sister Clara). I think back and can never remember him at a time when he was sad or unhappy or grumpy or in a bad mood.

Even at my grandfather’s funeral, his brother, he was smiling and lifting me up as we talked.

He did not have an easy life. He was beaten as a young teenager by a farmer he worked for and had to live with during the depression. He ran away. He had a number of other challenges and tragedies throughout life, but those challenges and tragedies were not his life.

He was able to choose happiness and a smile. He chose to flash his light on everyone, he encountered.

In yoga practice, we say Namaste as a greeting. For some, it is like a ‘good day’ or maybe better like a christian ‘god bless you’ after someone sneezes. Sort of an automatic response or greeting that has little meaning.

It is rare(if ever) that someone would pause and look you deep in the eyes and raise their hand to the heavens and put their hand on your brow, and say “God, please bless this person who has sneezed and wash them in your divine light so that they might avoid sickness and enjoy good health and all of your deepest love….”

In Yoga practice, it often carries a weightier meaning, this Namaste.

Translate, it means I recognize the divine in you, or I see the light in you. I witness all that is wonderful and good in your spirit and person.

In the physical world, the physics of light is such that we can not see a person at all unless light is literally bouncing off of them and hitting our eyes. In a flash, we are seeing their light cast at us.

Metaphysically, we can live in a way and share our feelings of love and more with others, often through our actions, through our facial expressions, through our words and our laughter, through our human mistakes and foibles and problems too.

We have to consciously focus to see the beauty in ourselves and others at times, especially when our darker natures are temporarily more expressive than our light is coming through.

In other words, in yoga we witness and observe what we can. It is an active observation.

Flash (a) Light reminded me or maybe taught me a different aspect of this. We can work to shine and share that light in us actively, making the witnessing of the thing a bit easier for others, but also making it possible help illuminate their light.  or ‘don’t look at me, look at the wonderful thing this other person is doing!’

Like a mirror, like a lighthouse light with lights and mirrors, we are redirecting focus combined with our own light on some other amazing thing that has some of its own light too and helping it to blaze!

I loved every minute of that concert. I loved every second with Sharon, her presence, her feeling, her words and her light. I loved all the people in the hall that night and everyone on stage.

We all blazed together!

I am eager to witness you blaze as well!!!!!

PS

After I finished this article, Sharon phoned me as she waited for traffic to break at the top of Blowing Rock, she described an epiphany of her own while listening to a Tony Robbins audio book, Awaken the Giant within. I love it too. I listened to it on Scribd (free two month invitation if you haven’t tried this app!). The fog was lifting as the epiphany hit and she shared the beauty of it with me on the phone.

I loved her call, her voice and her sharing of this epiphany. She had listed 11 things inspired from the book, 11 things to choose to love life and more.  I’m paraphrasing as I was again feeling her feeling, her vibration across the cellular waves bringing her back to me from 70 miles away.

PPS
a portion of the lyrics from Flash Light by George Clinton

Flash light (oh, flash light)
Flash light (oh, flash light)
Spot light (spot light)
Neon light (oh, neon light)
Flash light (oh, flash light, ho)
Stop light (stop light)

Flash light
(flash light)
Day light
(day light)
Spot light
(spot light)
Red light
(oh, ho, red light!)

Everybody’s got a little light under the sun

Everybody’s got a little light under the sun
Under the sun, under the sun, under the sun, under the sun, under the sun, under the sun, under the sun, under the sun

L.I.P. – D. Russ 4.5.17 – Crowder’s Mountain Memorial

This morning after hiking up Crowder’s Mountain and before practicing a little yoga at the top, I noticed that someone had tagged the mountain near one of the exceptionally beautiful areas with ‘D. Russ 4-17’. 

My initial reaction was negative. I had a difficult time understanding why someone would want to cave man up the mountain with spray paint.

After I started doing yoga on a particular ledge that I like for just that purpose, I moved into a prayer twist with my right leg extended behind me and my arm resting on my left knee, almost have my shoulder on my leg, maybe another couple weeks of this.

My drishdee fell square on .Russ 4-17.

As I write this it is April 5th. I realized a few things.

  • D. Russ must have just been here.
  • I might have passed D. russ coming or going up the mountain yesterday even
  • D. Russ is probably in a rough place in life and needed to have his or her existence recognized
  • Maybe D. Russ didn’t even tag the mountain, maybe someone that loved D. Russ had chosen this as a memorial 

I had lots of thoughts of lugging a pressure washer up here somehow (not practical because of the water required) or painting over it or sandblasting somehow. I do not know how mountain graffiti is cleaned off.

Then I had thoughts of leaving it a bit.

D. Russ for whatever reason needed to leave that mark to get through another day.

I recognize in myself an inability to fully empathize with tagging a piece of nature like this. However, as I hinted above, cave people have been doing this for tens of thousands of years.

It is a very human type of expression. next to foot prints in the mud, it is one of the oldest types of expression.

Far more tried and true than my own form of digital written expression, which might not survive a decade, a century, let alone a milennia or ten.

So I would like to invite each of you to reach down and conjure up a little empathy, sympathy, prayer, love, boost of energy or recognition for D. Russ. 

I hope that their tagging this week gave them the boost they needed to hold it together, to get through another day being bullied at school, working a soul sucking job, caring for a family member, staying alive, avoiding a drug addiction, staying healthy, finding happiness somewhere, letting something painful go and moving on, hiking back down the mountain putting this incident behind them so that they can go on to do something wonderful in life at best and at least maybe filled with a little less negativity to avoid doing something that D. Russ or any of us might regret.

D. Russ may you live in peace. 4.5.17

Only you can prevent assholism

Do you remember when you had the ‘Do not be an A$$hole talk’ with your child or teen?

Disclaimer!

My kids are wonderful. I love them with everything I have. They are not assholes.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the asshole word is going to be thrown around in this article. This is not a literary device, it is important for the survival of humanity, our species (Sapiens) and maybe for our planet.

We all need to be challenged not to be an asshole.

I am not judging you. I am not judging your kids. I am not judging my own kids. This is not about judging people as assholes.

As a parent of three awesome people, one adult, one teen and one child, and as a person that was formerly a child and a teen as well, I have experienced and witnessed that the young we raise need some guidance as they learn to be awesome people.

Being an awesome person comes easier and more naturally to some budding people than it does to others.

As an adult, I have witnessed that at times almost everyone either chooses to be an asshole, changes into an asshole, dabbles in the dark arts of assholism, goes through an asshole phase or temporarily flips out, losing their shit and morphs in and out of assholism.

It can and usually does happen to all of us at some point in our life.

No one is immune from being an asshole.

Raising anti-asshole awareness

Whether it is your spouse, your parents, your best friend, or even your own flesh and blood kids, we all have the power to raise awareness about how not to be an asshole and how to recognize the symptoms of assholism.

Today, I will not focus on all that other asshole shit.

I simply want to focus on asshole kids.

Warning Great Kids about being assholes

I believe that everyone has the potential to be great, no matter how terrible they were yesterday or even today. In the next moment, they have the potential to be great.

Sometimes, people get all caught up in themselves and don’t even realize that they have flipped to the dark side and started acting like an asshole.

As parents, we can make the mistake of always treating our kids like little children and avoiding the obvious talk that we might have with other people. We sometimes shy away from the blunt delivery, “Hey you are being an asshole. How about not doing that?”

Despite the negative connotations of using slang/slurs/curse words like asshole, kids really pay attention when you occasionally, maybe once or twice in their life, catch them being an asshole, point it out, and guide them to stopping it.

Don’t over use the asshole word with your kids

Now, if you are the kind of asshole that calls your kids assholes every five minutes all day, every day, then none of this is going to help. In fact, as I write this, I’m not even talking to you!

I’m talking to everyone else that suddenly had a vision of you in their head, wondering ‘hey what about that asshole down the street that calls his kids assholes all the time?’

The answer is, “Let it go, that parent is an asshole.”  

Focus on you.

 

Do you remember the asshole talk(s)?

I do. I remember each time I have had the asshole talk with my progeny. There was a small sense of shock. Then there was a flooding of new respect from each child.

“OMFG!!! – Dad’s a people!”

That was the light and alarm bell that went off in their minds and I could see it in their eye. I was being real with them. They sat up and paid attention.

I was not harsh. I did not yell. I simply called them on it in the moment when they were living it.

I knew what it was like. I had been in their shoes because more than once or twice as a kid and a teen I was an asshole.  My Dad had the asshole talk with me. My grandfather’s both had the talk with me as well. There were three different women friends in my life that each had the talk with me too!

I’m not claiming that I was a fast learner.

But I remembered each and everyone of those talks and those people and I am a better person for each one of them.

There are many many twists to an asshole. It’s not just one thing.

There are many ways that people can be assholes.

So with kids, we have to help tune them into the complexity an help them learn some self awareness to many of the different shades of assholes.

You will never be the sole asshole avoidance coach for your kids.

As people, we all have to learn to learn from many people. No parent can teach their kid everything.

I want you to be very strategic in choosing your asshole talk scenario.  The downside about this talk is that, you are only going to get one shot at the asshole.

After that, its up to all the rest of us.

Other family, other friends, other siblings, other teachers and coaches and leaders and bosses and lots of others will get their single shot too.

But we only get one.

After that the effectiveness of the “Hey don’t be an asshole talk” wears off and has no effect.

But my religious rules or dogma or upbringing says don’t talk about assholes…

I know, some of us will be uncomfortable using the word asshole with our kids.  It’s ok. You are a nice person. You are a good parent. You might be too nice.

If you are not careful, you will be ‘too good’ and raise an asshole!

Don’t don’t do that.  🙂

Be patient, look for your opportunity, and have the talk. Let em know that you are a real person and capable of spotting their BS.

You know you have the power. You do it everytime you drive a car and get cut off. You spot the asshole and yell out loud or in your mind.

You can do it on the road or in the store or at work.

Use that asshole radar to spot it in your kids.

Do the world a favor and stop the assholism from spreading.

Be prepared to let go as they Adult Up and away!

There’s a conundrum to this asshole prevention work.

When you call your kid out for being an asshole and talk with them about their choices to be or not to be an asshole, something is going to change in your kid.

They are going to grow up a BIG bit.

When you invite your child not to be an asshole, you are acknowledging that they have the power to be their own person. You are recognizing in them the adult that will be.

They will seize that self control and self determination, and be less of an asshole and they will be more of an adult. They will be more human.

As a parent that has swaddled and cuddled and wiped them clean and hugged them when the night boomed or the shadows spooked them or cooled them when they were fevered and so much more, we want to protect our babies. We want to keep them close and protect them from others, the world, everything, even themselves.

They are people though and we need to empower them to take care of themselves and to learn to protect themselves from their inner asshole potential.

Show them their inner asshole and set them free.

Then step the fuck back and let them grow up.

You had your one shot, you aimed and fired and took your shot.

That’s it. You are done.

They will correct their course. It might be a big correction or it might be a little correction.

They will probably need more course corrections but that’s not on you! Not now.

That is for someone else because we only get that one shot. After that our cannon fire turns into a mini marshmallow gun and it has no effect on them.

We still have other influences on them in many important ways, but after you fire that shot, you are launching the sail boat and it is off racing to the sunset.

Time for you to focus on the next kid or more importantly focus on yourself, because after all that parenting, odds are good you have been turning into a bit more of an asshole!

Time to get your inner ducks in a row too!

The Wait is On

I am sitting here at the moment kicking and churning through some wait induced anxiety.  I only fully started to recognize the feeling for what it was (anxiety that is) as it slowly, ever so slowly, increased to the point where I stopped doing…

My first inclination was to take a walk or practice some yoga. Instead, I held back. I will still do this, but thought it might be more useful to let myself feel what I need to feel in this moment.

I’m not choosing to soak in the anxiety and let it permeate into every pore and take over.

I’m doing what I do, and working through the feeling. There’s more there than just anxiety itself. There are drivers and causes and triggers and all sorts of clutter in my mind.  I can zero those out, reboot my mental computer and start fresh.

This will be healthy.

I can also quickly delve into what those drivers and causes and triggers and other clutter, I can look and see what is there. I can better understand what process it is that started spinning a strange loop in my head until my cerebral processor got stuck there and the anxiety meter started to increase.

This writing will serve exactly that introspective purpose.  Then I’ll practice yoga. 🙂

So what is going on with me?

Unlike, my laptop, I can’t pop open a screen and see which processes are running and which ones are not responding.

I can reach down deep and identify the feeling in my mind and in my gut.

At the moment, I am having one of those gut level feelings combined with lots of thoughts in my head.

Science has discovered that we next to our brains, our guts have the second most neurons in our bodies. A gut feeling is not just a feeling, it is neurons in our gut firing and doing something useful for us.

At a high level, I have three four external events that are contributing to my anxiety. These are the external pressures that are cooking up the thoughts in my instant pot mind.

  • Waiting to hear about a potential new job
  • Bills coming due
  • Unpaid invoices in the wind
  • My To Do list for this week including multiple projects

The item at the top of the list is the 800lb gorilla of this batch of items.

Backstory on the job I did not get

Late last year and into the beginning of this year, I applied for a great job with a great company. I went through multiple interviews, and at the end of it I was one of two people considered for the position. The other person got the job. I am not aware of the other person’s qualifications nor how they stack up against my own. I am not aware of how they did in interviews compared to how I performed.

I do know just one thing. They were able to live and work locally for the job whereas I would have been a remote employee.

Fast Forward to Today – Back in the running

I wanted that job then. I would have been good at that job.

Two weeks ago, I noticed that a very similar job had been reposted on the company’s website. I reached out to the HR Manager.

Then a few days later, I noticed that a different job, had also posted. It was different but something that I was also qualified to do as well. I reached out to the HR Manager again. I had not received a reply from the first inquiry.

Then a couple days later, the headhunter that had first put me in touch with the company last year, contacted me to see if I was interested in the first job.

I was. I said so.

As it turns out, the original person that did get the job had not worked out. I do not know the reasons. They are mostly none of my business.

I am curious if the company might have learned something about their needs or requirements, maybe something that I could help with more. Or maybe something that would be good to know so as to avoid ‘not working out’ in the future…

Two days ago, I heard back from the HR Manager. It was a quick note to let me know they were looking into things.

From the head hunter, I got the impression that they were attempting to figure out what they should do, such as:

  • Did they need to take a new pool of candidates?
  • Did they need to interview them all?
  • Would the need to interview me again?
  • Could they just send me an offer?
  • Maybe a bunch of other stuff too.

I have been a hiring manager many times in my past careers. Sometimes, I have had to start over and collect a new pool of candidates. Other times, I just went from the person on the top of the list, to the next person on the list.

I am hopeful that they will simply go to the next person on the list, me.

🙂

I am tired of waiting.

This is one of the feelings that I am working through. I am an extremely patient person. Still, I can feel the need to get things moving too.

Right now, I feel the need to see things flow. I feel the need to ‘know’ what is going to happen next and get busy making that happen.

Those other three things

The next two things are tied together. I have bills to pay. I have outstanding invoices that have not been paid. I need the outstanding invoices to be paid so that I can pay the bills. I have not heard from the people I sent the invoices to in several days. One is out of the office on vacation. The invoice might have been processed before the departure, or maybe not.  I have little visibility to whether or not the invoice will be paid sooner or later.

This is a yin and yang aspect of my finances.

This is an obvious source for some of my anxiety. It would not normally be enough to grind me to a halt, but with the big one, the unknown job situation and potential, this is fueling the anxiety a bit more.

Finally my remaining projects

This is both a source for anxiety and also a source for curing my anxiety. (another paradox)

On the one hand, working through my projects is helping to keep me calm and patient. I am making progress on my projects. I have a half dozen that I am working currently.  These are not large projects in terms of money. They are important to me and to my clients and partners.

They do require energy, focus and forward progress.

Anxiety can rob me of all of those things, hence this quick break to talk it out with myself (and then do yoga).

If I am being honest with myself, I have been working at about 66% of my normal speed on these projects over the last 3 days.

The anticipation of the new job is distracting me. I have had a few family distractions as well on top of that.

So I feel like I am not wrapping or launching (as the case may be) these projects fast enough. Moving through them, might even result in earning some extra money fast enough to help with the bills if the other unpaid invoices remain unpaid longer.

It is one thing to know a thing, it is another to be able to do something about it.

There are times when we can see a problem in front of us, and we can’t avoid it at all. My memory sometimes goes back to the tidal waves around Fukushima that washed over the land. News choppers caught on camera people caught by those waves. They could see them coming, but they couldn’t always get to higher/ safer ground fast enough.

This is not one of those situations for me.

I have experienced that in the past and this is not one of those times. I am moving. I am getting things done. I am improving things.

My computer is slogging through the work (talking about my brain and myself not my actual computer).

it’s just a little bogged down and over heated with the anxiety from everything above.

I have written this and purposefully shared it to acknowledge the feelings and the experiences and the true stresses deriving from them.

This is simply Step 1. I am acknowledging the challenge, some might call it the shadow.

I can feel the shadow. I can know that I am walking through a shadow, under a cloud if you will. I can feel the difference in the temperature in the shadow.

I know that I am not the shadow. The feelings of anxiety, these are not me. They are not part of me.

I am simply feeling the shadow.

Step 2 is to reboot my mind. 

Now that I know what it is that is stuck in my processor and I have acknowledged the truth of the situation, it is safe to reboot my computer, let my processor cool down for a few minutes and then start it back up again.

For me, this means yoga.

I can run or walk and pause the processor. That itself is a type of relief from anxiety. It is not a full reboot.

I need the full reboot that yoga brings. Then I can tackle one thing at a time again. Currently, the anxiety is a bit higher because I am feeling and processing a little bit of everything all at once.

I can’t process everything all at once. This is not how I multi-task even.

I am going to leave off here. I am going to work through Step 2.

Then I am going to jump back into Step 3, and work through the things that I can do in the here and now.

I am always looking for better ways to do everything. This is just a glimpse into my current process. There is more to it than my 3 steps.  These just happen to be my next 3 steps and not all of the steps I use.

Regardless, I’m always interested in other ways to work through things. Ways I might improve or change things up to avoid letting things get stale. Love to hear your thoughts or even just hear a word of encouragement or a wish of good luck!

I would be grateful for any and all of those things.

Know when to fight & when to seek peace

You’ve got to know when to fight and when to seek peace.

This phrase from the end of a show called Longmire (1st season, 3rd episode) is currently etched in my brain. It makes me recall the many occasions I have almost died. I have written before about my feeling that I have shifted. A Shift is a feeling that our lives have changed, shifted into something else. I can recall my most recent shift of almost two years ago.

Tonight, I am thinking of many other shifts that I have experienced, some of which I had forgotten or had forgotten the feeling of shifting.

One of the first ones I recall happened when I was about 7 years old. Two teen agers were shooting a 75lb bow with razor tipped arrows at my brother and I as we ran back and forth in front of them. It was a cruel and coercive experience.

At 10 a nickel plated .357 magnum with an 8 inch barrel discharged. It was pointed right at my head.  A very thin wall and a used microwave were the only things between my head and the bullet. The microwave still worked afterwards, but always had a large hole in one corner.

Another occurred later in life. I might have been 11 or 12. I was digging into the side of a hill that had years earlier washed away in a mud slide. I was not alone and joined with several friends.  While lying in the cave we dug by hand, lying on my belly digging more. A section of the top of the cave collapsed on me, knocking the wind out of me. It was the heaviest weight I had experienced on top of me up until that time, maybe ever.

At 14 I awoke in the middle of the night being driven down a mountain at about 107 mph. I do not recall much of that event.

At 16 one night I almost died about 6 times. It was a remarkable night and one that left me feeling elated as if I could conquer the world, after all I had conquered death multiple times in one night.

At 19 I almost died in a motorcycle accident flying all the way across an intersection and landing on my head and dive rolling at the last minute, partially out of reflex and partly because that is what happens when a crash test dummy flies several dozens of feet through the air to crash on the other side.

When I was about 35, I had a different experience. It didn’t almost kill me, although death threats were prevalent. Still a piece of me shifted, maybe even died inside, and life was not the same for me again.

Then a couple years ago when I was 42, a drunk driver came around a corner in a truck on two wheels, bouncing down at the last moment and swerving to miss my daughter an I.

 

Looking back, I experienced major life changes around all of these events.

As I ponder the nature of shifts lately, I sometimes wonder if I simply shifted into a different universe. Maybe in the original or previous universe, my personal timeline stopped and I moved to join and merge in a different timeline where it continued.

In this timeline, I did not die by a razor tipped arrow, nor a .357 bullet nor a crashing semi nor a drunk driver nor a motorcycle accident nor the hands of an organized crime group nor even a series of events as a teen during a spectacular night out.

I just lived.

I changed.

I shifted.

But to what?

The show I was watching this evening, it made me realize that lately, maybe for a while. I only have two speeds.

Fight or Seek Peace.

I can do both really well.

It feels like I mostly seek peace these days and it feels the most natural, although at times it doesn’t always feel like living.

The question posed or the challenge made is the ‘Knowing When’ to do either of those things.

I am not sure I have the wisdom to know when to do either.  I just do one or the other.

Peace feels like the best path most of the time, but even throughout the day it is not always the answer. Or at least not the answer that I choose.

I fight to save myself. I fight to rebuild. I fight to heal. I fight to go on.

I do not feel morbid nor depressed. I feel introspective. I feel optimistic, which might be ironic. In fact, given how many times I have either survived death or been shifted to a new universe, it is not the least bit surprising that I am optimistic!

Who could be pessimistic after surviving so many events?

I’m sure I am only scratching the surface.

In fact, I did not mention the time when I was 15 when I was going to fast on my motorcycle, jumped a hill and flew 40 feet (on the bike that time) straight at a tree wider than myself and the bike, then miraculously squeezed to the right of the large tree and another smaller tree of only 6 inches of diameter landing and thudding and stopping 15 feet past both on the ground. When I later went back to inspect the trees the handle bars of my motorcycle were to wide to fit between the two trees, yet I had done it. I had survived again.

Nor did I mention the time when I was 5 and I fell through the ice of a lake and missed the bus.

Nor the time in Basic Training when I almost took out myself and a drill sergeant fumbling a grenade.

So maybe it is easy for me to be optimistic, I have lots of survival experiences.

There is a concept in tech startup world, it is the idea of ‘failing faster’. Knowing that most startups will fail, people go into startups not expecting to fail but aware of the likelihood and quick to pull the plug on the thing and very aware that there will be important lessons to be learned during the failed business.

Maybe all my near death experiences or my shifts, are just me failing faster as a person, a human a conscious being moving from one universe to the next.

Between these events, I have found more ease in some periods than between others.

Currently, I am growing and changing quite a bit. I would not call this an ‘easy’ time to be. However, it has been a long time since I have changed as much nor as quickly nor grown as much as I have since my last shift.

As I watched the end of the episode of Longmire tonight, tears streamed down my face with sadness and relief too. The line was spoken to a horse fighting to live. The lines were spoken to let the horse know that it didn’t have to fight anymore, that it was OK to seek peace.

It has been 30 years since I rode or owned a horse. I haven’t broken a horse since then either. I probably don’t even have the skill or ability to do that any longer.  But I sure felt that scene with the horse (actor) and it made me think of my own horse from way back then.

It made me think of myself as well.

I don’t have to fight to keep living. That is not a death wish.

I can seek peace and live in peace instead.  Maybe that’s a different type of living than fighting for every inch of every bit of progress that I get.  I have done that before year in and year out.

What did it bring me? Inches of progress and lots of near death experiences too.

It brought me wisdom from failing faster and finally I am starting to realize that fighting for it, might not be the best path forward for me any longer.

I simply need to live and seek peace. This is what feels right to me and has for months now. I am torn in some of my past lessons, as not fighting for it, doesn’t feel like I am pushing or trying enough.

But pushing and trying and fighting, they just aren’t working for me the way they used to work.

I need to let that guilt go. There are a lot of things that used to work for me that don’t work for me any more too.  Glasses don’t work for me. Hard rock doesn’t work for me anymore. Driving ridiculously fast has not worked for me in a long time. Working 100 hour work weeks does not work for me. (although I could sure use the money if I had a job that could give me that many hours)

🙂
I haven’t lost my sense of humor.

I’m simply finding a new path forward and learning to know when to fight and when to seek peace.

I’m at a stage in life where seeking peace is my current answer.