Courtesy Lukas free stock photos on Pexels

Protecting Ourselves from Our Weaknesses – Training Wheels Off

I became conscious of a weakness in myself today. I have a history of sometimes protecting myself from my own weaknesses.

At times, I am very aware of my weaknesses. I may not be able to improve them, but I can setup fail safes to prevent something bad from happening.

When I was 18, I had some things going for me and some things that were not going for me. I was intelligent, but I was very undisciplined.

I had the brains to go to college, but I did not have the money.

I had the ability to do well in many subjects, but I did not have the strength to show up every day.

I had corrected some social awkwardness through partying too much. I was very good at partying.

After visiting Loyola University in Chicago where I had been accepted, I realized that I’d be very likely to drink myself out of college if I went there immediately after high school.

So I enlisted in the Army to gain the benefits of the GI Bill. I bought myself the funds for a college degree.

I protected myself from my immaturity by locking myself up in the military for four years. I gave myself a backstop. This was touch and go at times in the military, but it paid off.

I matured. I grew up(maybe a little too quickly). I eventually made it to college.

I have a double major in finance and accounting and a master’s in tax law to show for it.

In protecting myself from myself,

I sacrificed some confidence.

In doing so, my degree choices were very practical and aligned with some of my aptitudes. I was fortunate and had many aptitudes to choose from.

However, as I had shut down some of my confidence for four years in the military, I chose poorly.

I did not choose one of my stronger natural skills. I chose an easy skill (for me). I chose math and business numbers and analysis.

Not the last time I hedged my own Actions

Throughout my life since, there have times when I have been more in touch with who I am and my strengths. I have chosen paths that were better and more aligned with who I am, who I am becoming.

There were also repeated situations throughout my life where I hedged my bets. I hedged my bets, to bet on myself and against myself at the same time. This was a practical and safe thing to do to achieve a ‘safe at the time’ outcome.  It kept me on a path away from failure, following a middle road. That middle road away from failure lay between a road to success as well.

Sometimes the middle road, the safe bet, the compromise… It is perpetually a half step towards success.

For me, it takes a large spark of energy to set off on a path towards full success. I have to feel it. I have to know it. I have to work against the odds to make the impossible possible.  To do this, I have to do things that I know I can’t do.

There is a paradox in all of this and that is a wonderful thing. This is not the type of concept that is logical to anyone that feels that all equations should only have one answer.

Many equations have multiple answers, a range of answers, some have an infinite number of answers.

It is no surprise to me to know that it is possible for me to achieve the impossible. It’s just one of the possibilities that come with some equations or scenarios in life.

Conscious knowledge of my hedges

The other night I stayed up way to late binge watching a TV show. I have a quirk. For me to recharge, I need to occasionally binge watch TV, binge read a book, binge read a series of books and more.

As I go through life, I expend energy left and right. My cup empties out. Fiction, non-fiction, stories, lessons, and concepts that help me learn and grow, these refill my cup.

I need them like a fish needs water.

There is often a price to pay the day after. Today, I am paying that price. 🙂

That same night, was one of a series of nights where I have not had much sleep. I have not slept poorly exactly, I just have not been getting the normal amount I require to function well.

This is often a cue for me to read more, or learn more or experience more even if its through TV.

I have been studying a foreign language as well and reading a Seth Godin book and lots more good stuff to fill my cup.

But the night I binge watched TV, I was up too late. I knew I was up too late. I really needed to have energy for the next day to accomplish important things. I was just about to call it a night, but no I wasn’t. The show had me hooked.

Then out of the blue, I got a message from a friend of mine. We have been friends for a long time going back to just before I made my decision to go into the Army.

We had a positive conversation. My friend and I have both been going through a challenging shift in life the last couple years. While some aspects of this shift are similar, the results of how things have played out for each of us are very different.

In some ways, I am further along transitioning the shift.

This is not some kind of race.

In other ways, my friend took a different path in navigating the shift.  It was a path that I would have loved to have tried in navigating my own. Alas, I did not have that option.

I had to play the cards I was dealt and so does my friend.

Now, my friend is at a point in the shift that I have already navigated. I was so very happy to be there and share some wisdom to help with that. I have been very open about my experiences going through Separation and Divorce and single parenting and many more challenges.

Choosing to be open, saved me. It helped me find love again as well. It was exactly the way I needed to manage my shift.

So I was happy to share this with my friend, who is approaching this bend in the path with a stronger foundation and more wisdom and maybe even some preparation too. I am happy to help shed some light or at least illuminate some options to choose from or choose against.

Mine is not the right way or the wrong way or the better way or the lesser way. It is just a way. I do believe that sharing our experiences is something that enables all humans to learn from each other and do maybe a little bit better over time.

Binging Helped me BE There

So my friend reached out in the middle of my binge. I think I was able to help. In doing so, it gave new purpose to my binge. Suddenly, keeping myself up until 2am was not just about watching TV, it was about keeping me available to be there to help someone when they needed it. The call did not go unanswered.

I was able to be there for someone that I care about.

But there is more than that. The day after as I pay the price of my binge, I am moving slower than normal. I’m processing all the things I have done and taken in over the last few days.

As some one that reads the Tao regularly, one of the lessons is to ‘do no thing’ or instead of reacting, do nothing.

Doing no thing, doing nothing is a challenge!

This is an additional reason why reading, binging tv or movies and immersing myself in study help me do nothing, while keeping my brain semi occupied.

Sure, I could do no thing even more effectively by literally doing NOTHING!

This is what I have for myself.

Going slower allowed me to get more in touch with where I am and to reflect on hedging my successes. I would not have had this reflection time if I picked up moving at full speed.

Sign Post to Look for my own examples of success Hedging

I do not know what is in store for my immediate future. I do feel that I need to be more aware of my tendency to hedge a path away from failure and success. I need to strike out more trusting in myself to make things possible and achieve success by doing just that.

There might very well be times when hedging is the right choice.

The lesson for me is to make that choice knowing with wisdom the price of the choice.  The compromise option always has a price to pay. Compromise might not be as expensive as failure.

Compromising endlessly can be far more expensive than a smattering of successes along the way!

It is time to rack up some successes!

A nose for a new life

Positive Requests for the little “c”

Over the last two weeks, I worked hard to move into a new life.  I’ve moved into a new home. I moved in with my girlfriend of 20 months. My children are getting used to living with us. We have consolidated two households from different areas. I worked to grow my business and new business and more.

I worked to balance all of these major life changes!

All these major and positive life changes have kept me busy. <- (Understatement)

Before I proceed further, I’d like to request something of you, my friend, my relative, my loved one, my family, my random or returning visitor. I’d like you to read further with the spirit with which I write this.

Positivity and hopefulness.

This may or may not be possible. You owe me nothing. This is your life to choose what and where you will do things. I have no expectations of you.

I share this for a few reasons:

  • I am very hopeful for the future.
  • I feel very positive.
  • The news is a bit to large for me to digest alone. So I’m sharing.

I learned a few years back that I am not able to process everything all by myself.  Whether good or bad, sometimes I need to ground a thing by sharing it with other people. It can diffuse the potency of a thing like sending lightning through a lightning rod, down a copper wire and into a spike in the ground where it is safe.

Electricity can be used for positive or negative. It depends on what we do with it.

I am working on positive.

Too much of a good thing, too much of a bad thing, can be unwieldy. So I’m sharing. This may not directly impact the majority of you. It is simply a story. You might empathize or not.

I would love it if you empathize and feel a positive present and if inclined a positive future.

As moves go, I was super busy moving furniture, driving trucks and trailers and packing and unpacking and cleaning. I tried to keep up with work too each day. I almost succeeded.

I did what I could and that will suffice. 🙂

I received a voice mail on the 5th of August. About three weeks back, I had gone to the VA to have a biopsy. I had a spot on my cheek just below my right eye. It had been there almost 2 years. It went through a process of drying out, turning flaky, breaking off, and then creating a small dot of a scab. Then it would repeat the cycle. It sort of felt like an under the skin pimple.

I went in an a youngish doctor came in wearing very high, high heals. I wore toe shoes. A nurse joined us and joked about the doctor’s high heels. Everyone was friendly. They gave me a couple shots in the face, and cut out a section of the spot with a scalpel for the biopsy.

I get squeamish sometimes. It is not a cerebral thing. It is more of a hypoglycemic thing.

Sometimes I pass out when I give blood. I almost passed out watching the epidermal video before my first child was born.

At other times, pain and gore does not bother me at all.

I duct taped my finger back together after almost chopping it off with an axe when I was a teenager. (finger works fine)

I laughed for an hour when a nurse scrubbed my hide (leg, ankle, ass) to get all the rocks out of my hide after flying through an intersection after a motorcycle accident twenty some years ago.

I was not squeamish at all during the actual births of any of my children.

I felt mostly nothing during the biopsy. I definitely did not feel any pain. I could feel the slight pressure of something digging around inside of me.

I got squeamish. I needed an ice pack around my neck to come back to myself in a few minutes after the procedure.

It was no big deal. I share it to acknowledge this aspect of myself.

It is not a weakness. It is not a strength. It is just something that randomly occurs.

Two weeks later, the voice mail from the same doctor informed me that the biopsy had come back positive for Basal Cell Carcinoma.

I’m looking at this as Cancer with a little “c”.

To quote WebMD, which has previously predicted my eminent demise for every possible condition ever…

It’s natural to feel worried when your doctor tells you that you have it, but keep in mind that it’s the least risky type of skin cancer.

As I write this, I have not yet shared the ‘little’ news with anyone yet. I will and today.

I have had about 24 hours to digest it and feel just a little worried, emphasis on “little”.

I do need to schedule surgery and find a surgeon and a number of other things. I do not really know what is involved yet with all these things.

My next door neighbor had skin cancer on his face a few years back. The cancer was not a big issue for him. The surgery recovery was. He contracted a case of MRSA and ended up being hospitalized for 2-3 months. It took him about a year to recover his health after that. He had to cancel a new album and a European tour for his band’s comeback.  He’s a good guy, but I am not my neighbor.

This is my challenge and my results no matter what will be my own. I share my knowledge of his experience as he is one of the few people I know to have experienced this.

My ignorance in this area out weighs my knowledge.

So in the midst of settling into my new life, growing my new life, moving forward with my new life, building my new life, I’m going to schedule a quick and easy and successful surgery and excise this little “c” from my life.

Positive Request for Helpful Information

If you have experience with this little “c” scenario, I would love to get some perspective. Your experiences or circumstances are not mine.

Regardless, on my good days, I am capable of learning from the stories of other people. On really good days, I can take that knowledge and make a better course for myself.

As my life is not yours, I may or may not do something useful with the information. It might not apply for my situation or options. I can grow from the knowledge regardless.

I would ask for positive tips. I’m not looking for negatives nor fear based perspectives at the moment. Negative experiences and fear based perspectives might be entirely valid.

However, currently they are not something I can use well. I say this not to dismiss or diminish any amazing struggles that you have experienced and survived. I say it simply to acknowledge what I am currently capable of digesting and using to a good effect.

 

I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite songs. I have danced down mountains to this song many times. It is not entirely on the topic of this post, but the title relates just a bit.

Recovering From a Day of Lost Productivity

I work for myself. I run my own business. An unproductive day costs me time, money and opportunity. It can cost even more.
 
Today, I lost a day of productivity. I do schedule days off. Working for myself, I often end up working many more days than a full week before I get a day off.
 
I do not recommend this approach. It is something that happens.
 
Losing a day of productivity, an unscheduled day, is one of the consequences of going too far.
 
Among other things, I am also a single father with 50/50 custody of my children. Unlike 100/0 single parents, I do get a week at a time when I do not have to look after my children.
 
This is not a situation I would have ever chosen. Life happens. We adapt.
 
Generally, I am more likely to get a day off during the week that I do not have my children. Raising children on the week that I do have them is a full time job.
 
This is not a complaint. I am working to be mindful of my circumstances, my strengths, weaknesses etc.
 
As I shift from a ‘single’ week into a ‘single parent’ week, I am more likely to run myself down.
 
This week, I was doing a great job of balancing things. I made excellent progress with client projects. I moved the ball towards a goal with new proposals. I coordinated some business meetings to drive more business. I helped clients solve problems to get better results.
 
I did not give myself anytime off. I gave myself some moments off. I walked through a park Tuesday morning and exercised too. I jogged with a dog friend of mine later that day.
 
I also worked late every night this last weekend and every day this week.
 
I got a lot done Wednesday, but encountered a personal set back that day too. It snow balled into wearing me down through the night Wednesday. I did not sleep well.
 
Thursday was not a productive day for business. I got a lot done as a parent. I needed to do both.
 
I write this now at 10:14 pm. My daughter is tucked in and I am almost ready for sleep myself. I needed to get this out of my system to let the lost day go. I need to ensure that I rest tonight. I will wake in the morning and help a good friend first thing. She has helped me tremendously in more ways than I can count.
 
Then, I will dive into my business day. It might be a long day and night of work. I’m looking forward to accomplishing a great deal.
 
I lost a day of productivity today. My batteries were not charged enough. Unscheduled ‘days off’ the ones that are retroactive. Those days when it is not until 4:38pm when we realize, I haven’t accomplished anything today. These days rarely feel like recharging days.
 
We have not gifted ourselves a day off. We do not enjoy them. We are not resting.
 
By the end of the day, I found myself caught in a riptide of lost productivity. I swam the entire day. It was hard work.
 
I went no where. I did not swim the length of the beach. I did not swim across the bay. I did not even rest and recharge on the beach.
 
I fought the ocean going no where.
 
Tonight, I need to recharge on the beach. I need to soak in the moonlight and drift on the grains of sand and enjoy the wind dusting my face.
 
The least I can do, and the least I will do today, is give myself a head start on tomorrow!

Note ~ This post was written in the past and schedule in the future. These events did not occur today nor this week (time of publishing). I find that I can write more candidly when I add a little time and space to a publishing date.
Impatient - Letting Things Happen vs Making Things Happen

Letting Things Happen vs Making Things Happen

Dragging the upside down rake through wet grass, I realized after ten steps that my attempts to ‘dry the grass faster’ was a symptom of my impatience.

I really wanted to mow the grass. I needed to mow the grass. I needed to move. I needed to imprint lines on the world. I needed to create order in the chaos. I needed to hear the low roar hum of the motor calming my nerves. I needed to create momentum that could be transferred into my other projects and goals.

I needed to make things happen.

Despite my realization, despite my recognition that dragging the rake across rainy, dewy grass blades to knock the droplets to the squishy sod below might speed the airing process up a bit, it would not help much. It would not help enough.

The backyard literally had 1-2 inches of standing water in low spots.

My efforts were not going to assist the breeze nor the petulant sun hiding behind the mostly cloudy sky.

I knew I could mow the grass even when it was wet. I could do the extra clean up on the mower deck and bag. I could even sharpen the blades after dulling them a bit in the water.

My shoes couldn’t get any wetter either. My feet were already soaked from my rake work!

After walking two rows in the grass, I had decided a few things already…

  • I would finish this silly task.
  • This task was a lesson in awareness for myself, a type of meditation.
  • I would write about this awareness. I did not need to share this epiphany of the asinine. Many people would understand immediately that drying their yard with a rake was an effort of futility! I would write about it to better understand what in the hell I was thinking, understand better where I was and understand better where I really needed to go.

It sure wasn’t back & forth in the wet grass towing a rake!

Impatiently waiting

I realized I was impatiently waiting for life to happen (more).

I’m at the cusp of some important changes in my life. I’m preparing to move into a new place at the end of this month(lease not signed yet).

I’m preparing to move in with my girlfriend. We have been seeing each other in a distance relationship for almost 19 months (will be almost 20 by the time we move in together.)

I am working in some different areas this year, returning to areas of expertise that I moved away from about 5 years ago(I shifted from Content Optimization & SEO work to full time WordPress web development when the industry shifted.)  I’m shifting back as the industry shifts again.

I am rebuilding, strengthening my finances. I am not ready to buy a house yet for many reasons, but things are improving.

I am ready for portions of my life to simplify so that I can apply more focus to other areas(I have been living back and forth from the Charlotte area to Boone every other week or so for the last 7 months to a year.)

Today is Friday. I took Tuesday off on the Fourth of July, but it had been quite a number of days since my last day off. (I do not remember how many.)  So even though I had a day off 3-4 days ago, I’m feeling a bit depleted. (I am not alone, just acknowledging where I am.) 🙂

Mowing grass, rejuvenates me. I perform a great deal of my work on a laptop. Often times, I can witness very tangible results from my work.

Sometimes as I’m working more than one project at a time, surfing from one area of opportunity to make progress to the next, awaiting things from clients or partners to send me the next ‘wave’ to surf and accomplish something, I can’t always see the forward progress. So mowing grass, allows me to see a tangible result every time. (I need this even though I have seen some very tangible results with clients this week, SEO results that are leaping forward, problems being solved, user experience improvements and much more.)  Still, I’m thirsting for more tangibility.

I am impatient.

This led me to attempt to dry the grass with a rake. It makes me chuckle and smile as I write this.

I read Dr Wayne Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life a bit almost every day.  It’s an interpretation of the Tao by Lao Tzu.

I recognize that I am not following the path of the Tao and letting things be at the moment. I recognize these feelings and impulses.

I am not judging myself or my choices or actions. I am just stepping aside and witnessing where I am this morning.

Letting Things Happen

As I step back, I can see that my time would be much more effectively spent if I let the sun, let the wind, let the grass, let them all be.

There is nothing to be ‘gained’ and no benefit that come to me from trying to speed this process up.

Yet, I do benefit from the self realization of where my feelings are guiding me this morning. They are pointing me in the direction of seeking tangible results, or tangible anything.

I need to finish, complete, solve, close, and be done with several things.

I need to evaluate those results and assess and understand what I did well and what I might improve upon in the future should I attempt something, anything similar again.

Adding another task to my list is not helping in this. Adding another task that is not even ready to be done, is definitely not helping.

However!

Writing this, reflecting on where I am, experiencing the wet, soggy socks and grassy epiphany with the rake, that did help.

I might not even mow the grass today and that’s ok!

I can step back now as I have improved my focus on what I really need. The grass and my desire to mow it, that was a symptom of an impatient feeling.

I felt like I needed to ‘force’ something to happen. I felt like I needed to make something happen.

As it turns out, the need or desire to force it, those were really sign posts that I failed to notice.

Recognizing the wrong time to do something

My feeling a need to force something to happen was an indicator that I was doing something out of order.

I now see that pushing it, trying to force a thing before it is ready to be done, that is simply choosing to live out of balance. (judgmental thought that)

I now see with more clarity that when I felt the need to mow the grass at the wrong time, before it was ready, sure I could make it happen, but I’m going against what is good for me and my future when I do that.

  • I need to let those things go.
  • I need to practice more patience.
  • I need to let the things happen that are happening.
  • I need to let the things happen that need to happen next.

Stretching for a Chainsaw analogy

If I were headed out into the woods with a few chainsaws to cut up a tree that had fallen down to create firewood for the winter, I wouldn’t need to teach myself how to juggle running chainsaws while I hiked.

Maybe I could learn to juggle chainsaws,(probably not) but what would the point to such an exercise be?

Addendum After the fact

These musings were interrupted by life happening. A client called with a couple questions and new things that will allow me to surf a bit more today.

Following that call, the sun came out and it was too irresistible for me to wait. I mowed some of the sunnier sections of the yard. (It felt good!) My girlfriend’s landlord is coming in a couple hours to take pictures of her old place (where I am today) and I was hopeful that mowing the grass would give the place a little more curb appeal. Doing this gives me no direct benefit and that is totally OK.  Sometimes life is just about the little things, helping to make things better where ever we are, when ever we are (as I write this a humming bird is pollinating some Dallias.(Got a pic of it on some purple flower’s whose name I do not know.)

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I also got some very good news about a place we might rent for our new home. The owner texted me to confirm our appointment and offer a lower rent per month as well.

I was letting things happen, and life was doing me good.

This client (my father) offers lawn care in Peoria Illinois.  He does a lot more than that maintaining large commercial accounts for lawn care, snow removal, tree removal, cleanup projects of hoarders and abandoned or foreclosed properties too. I am very proud of him for creating and growing his business and love supporting him on the web side of things.  The site is currently halfway through some changes in direction and focus. We’re gathering new images to use on the site and moving from a less personal, generic stock photo kind of images, to more images of projects that they are currently working on…(We have pictures from the last ten years, but coaching my father in taking pictures from 800 miles away and getting them to me in something I can use on a website has proven to be challenging!  The images we have now are mostly my own attempts (I’m no photographer) and unfortunately the day we had scheduled had weather challenges that did not help!… That’s all a story for another day!

 

 

Depleted, exhausted and too run down to capitalize on the gains I have made

#Disclaimer this article was written in the past, schedule for a later date, and then turned loose.

Publishing it eventually served a helpful purpose for me, but it probably does not reflect how I am now. It does illustrate how I got here for better or worse, and hopefully shares either helpful examples for others, or illustrative examples for others of how not to do it. I thank you for witnessing my evolution and any helpful reflections you might choose to share.
This might be one of those headlines that says all that really needs to be said, but that’s not why I wrote it. That’s not what this article is for…ergo the title is not to describe the article or summarize it nor give it a main topic or thesis.

It’s only purpose in this case is to spike an iron rod deep into the ground so that I have something to anchor myself, something to ground myself.

I am exactly what the title says, or at least I was at the moment when I wrote it.

That was about four run on sentences earlier in my life.

That was before I spiked the ground.

I still haven’t let go.

As I glance across the room I am sleeping in, I see a littered path of post it notes stuck to the wall. Earlier in the day, I was trying to raise my energy and recover from a long energy sucking day the day before. I had managed to get just over 8 hours of sleep. Despite that I was woken prematurely by a dog barking at a stranger at the door. ( I never saw the stranger as they left before I could get out of bed, dress and open the door. I may never know who was there.)

I probably needed at least 30-60 minutes more sleep.

I haven’t been sleeping very well the last few weeks, not nearly enough. Last night was the most sleep I have had in quite some time, and it was cut short.

So when I did get up, it took me about 2 hours to really wake up. I was awake and functioning and making breakfast for myself and the kids, working, getting cleaned up, consuming small amounts of caffeine (against doctor’s orders).

But I was so far away from being primed for action.

After breakfast, my kids and I eventually brainstormed some things to do for father’s day. (this is being published long after that, another type of grounding rod, a delayed something or other as the heat is too great to publish on time these days.)

I have felt pressure to find something fun for them to do for Father’s day weekend. It’s been bothering me all week and distracting me a bit.

I was hoping to put that demon down and figure something out. My girlfriend had sent me a couple suggestions. I shared some of those with the kids, and they went to town thinking of lots more. I added some in as well, spurred on my groupon.

By the end of the day we had two lists:

  1. Inside activities as it might rain.
  2. Outside activities if it does not rain.

Bowling is high on my list for inside. No idea why. Its something I enjoy about once or twice a year.

In general, I feel like I can’t afford it, not the money nor the time. But it takes mental focus, and the surroundings in a bowling alley and the shoes on my feet, they are almost always surreal and distracting and help me forget about most of my challenges for a bit.

It’s an escape. It’s an escape during which I can be present with my kids and have fun.

I have other escapes, like reading books, but that is an isolating experience mostly. Sometimes it gives me interesting new ideas to talk about with people and family, but generally it is an escape from challenges and people.

Bowling is an escape from challenges but not people nor family.

Or at least, that’s what I was feeling as I wrote the previous sentence.

Where am I going with all of this?

That’s the thing, I keep doing things to make forward progress. I keep trying to improve things. At a minimum I am preventing things from slipping or getting worse.

Yet for all the catastrophes I avoid and for all the progress I make, I am struggling (tonight while depleted) to figure out what I can show for it.

I need a life coach.

I can’t afford a life coach at the moment.

I need a counselor too.

I can probably afford a counselor.

I’m encountering some head game problems. For movie fans, think Tin Cup. I am perfectly and totally capable of many things.

Yet, I can barely hit the ball straight let alone hit it in the hole. (I never golf, never.)

I self medicate with caffeine.

It is both insufficient and the side effects of caffeine are making life challenging in ways I don’t need either.

I need to find some new approaches. I need to ground out some of the negative energy that is passing through me faster and more effectively.

I need time.

 

I have so many incomplete projects, small, medium, large projects.  Financial problems and obligations to others (family, friends, clients, partners) currently have me twisted up such that I am barely able to get more than 1-2 hours of focus time on each thing.

I am prioritizing based on what is behind the most currently. Then I apply a couple hours of work to it, bandaids or inches of progress bore different obligations reach out and pull me out and into something else.

I am balancing in many, many different things.

I am over-balanced. I am spinning far too many plates.

It is eight minutes after midnight. I am hopeful of getting enough sleep tonight.

It is time to undeplete.

Goodnight1

Subjectively Failing – Finding effective practices to survive it, thrive or escape with our lives – The Tweetie Bird Principle of Spoiling Sylvester the Cat’s Ability to Fly

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 how 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.