Divorce on Facebook

Solutions Rather Than Explanations – When empathy makes everyone feel bad & improves little

For weeks have I been percolating around a conundrum about empathy. Having the ability to empathize is one of those things that points to the existence of humanity or consciousness.

Humanity might be too egotistical as I’m certain I have witnessed dogs and dolphins express empathy.  It’s probably not something inherent to humans alone.

More specifically, when humans are incapable of empathy at all, we often see narcissism disorder enter the room.  If Narcissism is ‘bad’ then empathy must be ‘good’, right?

granted these are all moral judgments, setting that aside for the moment

The tricky thing about empathy is that it can lead some of us into codependency, or maybe it is a gateway or something. Some of us (raises my hand) want to understand others, we work to put ourselves into their shoes to understand and relate better, and the codependency trap can spring.  The more we walk around in someone else’s shoes, the more we stop living our lives and feeling theirs.  With a person close to us such as a spouse, family member or friend, the potential here can be greater.

I came across a hypothesis that utilizing objective compassion instead of empathy might be a healthier approach, or ‘Why Empathy is Bad‘. I have been playing with this hypothesis in my mind since I read it. Empathy can allow us to understand someone’s challenges better. It can also draw our focus in on an issue (their issue) and in our minds give it a disproportionate level of importance in our own bigger picture and priority list.

When we have a hyper focus in the wrong direction, it creates peripheral blind spots all over the place.

That’s nice But How do we use that concept of objective compassion?

First, we cannot fall into empathy traps. We can hear people out and work (hard) to remain conscious that their challenges are not our own. We can have compassion for their plight, and objectively stay focused on our own challenges. We can assist if we like or if there is common cause in a challenge contemplate joining forces.

We do not have to take on their load and carry their burden on our shoulders.

Sure we can help, if we choose. I want to emphasize the ‘have to’ aspect of the sentence above.

If we start ‘feeling’ compelled to help out of empathy, maybe too much empathy, then we are potentially sticking our toes into the pool of codependency.

Rubber hits the road in a real life example

I’ve had many examples of all of this express itself to me. This week one in particular stood out. It happened on Facebook.

Two friends of mine, friends in real life and friends on facebook, had been married. They divorced. The divorce was finalized this week.

I do not know all their details. This did not appear to be a happy, we’re still great friends type of divorce.  I’m not judging, just observing.

I learned about the divorce from a post that he shared online. I had seen hints that the divorce was coming for months, including witnessing a physical separation social profile name changes. I didn’t have any confirmations that this was going on, just circumstantial stuff.

He shared a post stating that the divorce papers were final.

I would describe this post as angry. There were insult hashtags directed at her. There was an image of him flying the bird at an image of her as she faced him, back to the camera. There was an icon of a cracked heart.

My impression was that he was angry and hurting.

Feelings do not mark us forever

I have witnessed many people on different sides of divorce feel and express with great venom the anger that they feel.  Anger is one of the stages of the grief cycle.

In my experience, it is one that is tolerated the least.  Anger has a way of turning happy people off and turning them away.  It alienates the angry from most other people.   Anger attracts anger often times, it reenforces and grows.

This post did not anger me. I did not feel angry. I witnessed it and chose not to try it on and feel it.  I replied with a comment expressing my happiness that he was moving on to another stage in his life. I did not reenforce the anger.

I chose to show and share compassion for someone that was hurting.

Why?

Well, that’s a tough one. He’s my friend. I met him through her originally. She’s my friend too.

I want to see both of them come through this thing happy and healthy. I do not want to witness them hurting themselves nor each other.

I chose not to reenforce any of the negative, and focus on the positives.

Solutions Rather than Explanations

This choice of mine stemmed from lessons I learned reading Michele Weiner-Davis’s book titled ‘Divorce Busting‘.

Disclaimer: This book did not save my marriage. I also did not hire the coaching service either. Maybe that would have helped, but I chose not to do that.

In the book, it describes a type of therapy called ‘Solution-Orientated Brief Therapy’ or SBT for short.  It’s a results oriented therapy approach.  It grew from the notion that we can look inwardly all day long and the knowledge of what ‘truly’ caused a psychological problem, that knowledge may not free us from the problem.  Ergo SBT focuses on the things that get results and help people live, be happy and maintain a good relationship.

Note, I was not looking to heal nor save this marriage. That is totally not my thing. I’m not the marriage rescuer. I have zero skills in this area. 🙂

This marriage was done, the paperwork on the divorce done too.

I did see a friend angry and hurting.

I shared compassion. I did not add fuel to the fire.

I saw the potential for fuel to amplify this as a couple possible scenarios:

  • Encouraging the anger by empathizing or responding in kind with my own expressions of anger or past divorce experience that made me angry
  • Castigating my friend for expressing his anger in the way that he chose to do. The day divorce papers are finalized is often a very emotional day. Like on any highly emotional day, I have witnessed that anyone can let things bubble up and out that they might not when in more control and command of themselves.  We all make mistakes. I was not there to judge. I was not there to be the internet/facebook police either. Doing so in my mind would have been an act of ‘public shaming’. In my experience, public shaming generally causes people to entrench and double down on their behavior. They get defensive.  Public Shaming rarely generates results as quickly as other approaches. In fact, I recently read that its important to be public with our praises and private with our criticism.  That applies even when someone else is being public with their criticism. Two wrongs don’t make something right.

I separately reached out to my other friend to express my compassion to her. I did this privately as there was no message publicly. She is my friend as well. I was not choosing sides in this divorce. In some ways, I feel closer to her and have more history with her.

Cyber Bullying

I will not share that private conversation. I will state that we are no longer connected as friends on Facebook.

His post might be construed as cyber bullying. I’m not agreeing that it is nor defending that it isn’t.

As I mentioned before, I am not judging his actions.  That does not mean that he is not accountable to someone for his actions. It just means I choose not to be the police, judge or jury in this situation. I’m not in an objective place to do that.  He has his shit to own. She has her shit to own. I have more than enough of my own shit to own without dipping into either of theirs.

I did witness one of her sons, his now former step son, call him to account for his actions.  I was proud of the son for sticking up for his mother.  In some positive ways, it reminded of actions my own son took in somewhat similar circumstances.  It was one of those moments when we get to witness a child of someone we care about, we witness that child do the right thing. We know that no matter what, that child has come into their own power.

They spoke truth to the power of their former step-father.

For me, it was a life moves on moment.

When empathy makes everyone feel bad & improves little

Owning my shit, I am reflecting back on my choices here. My actions had consequences. I do not know if I chose wisely or not.

I do know that my choices did align with my current path in life.  My life path may or may not be ideal. I’m not perfect and never will be.  I am working to learn and working to grow.

In this case, I chose not to pick one person or the other to ’empathize’ with and thereby zero in on the feelings of one friend over the other, choose sides, and attack the other.

This might have been a passive choice.  Sometimes passive choices might be the wrong choice and sometimes they might be the wrong choice.

I do know that I witnessed a young man rise to the moment and do what he felt was the right thing.

I do know as well that I did not add fuel to the fire of anger that my friend was experiencing on what might be one of the more emotional days of his life.  I have experienced people fueling my own fires (despair not anger) and know what it feels like to be pushed even further, maybe too far.

I am happy that I added my voice in the way that I did. I am happy that I was able to be there for both friends as I was.

My choices and examples might not have been what either wanted. That’s ok. They can take or leave me.  They are their own people. Their paths might be light years away from my own.  That’s ok.

I see them as friends and want to see both of theme survive, heal, grow, and thrive.

Our paths may or may not cross again in the future.  That’s ok. I cherish some amazing memories I have with both of them. They may or may not know it, but together, when they were together, they helped me achieve some amazing realizations in my life. They put me on a path that was life altering. It was not easy by any means, but I sincerely appreciate their influence on me.

Alone, their influence was that of people that were simply friends. But there was that time when they were together when it was magical and significantly influential and helped me. I will always be grateful for that.

Their marriage did not last, but I feel that their marriage was definitely important, even if it was only those moments that I witnessed.

And their influence is also part of what is now enabling me to see the power and pitfalls of empathy.

I am focusing on Solutions rather than explanations of what or why someone should or should not say what they might say.

I am focusing on doing things that Help with Life, not the opposite.

I see no help in applying a scarlet letter to someone’s actions.

I do see help in showing compassion and calm.

The people around us have to feel what they have to feel to move through their lives and learn their lessons.  I can’t tell someone how to feel. I definitely can’t tell them how to live.  I know that doing these things do not help. Even if I had the power to make them ‘feel’ or make them ‘live’ in a certain way, it would not help them. Without free will they would not grow, they would not be happier.

I certainly wouldn’t be better for having that type of control over anyone.

I love living knowing that my friends will rise to their challenges. They have their shit covered and will get there.

Along my way and as our paths cross, I will share my light and love and compassion. I will listen attentively and work to notice their light and hear their compassion too.

I will not pick up the shit they drop and add it to my pack.

I will continue with my strategy. I will live my life. I will open up to people and be honest. When I take action, I will focus on what helps with life and focuses on results and not on explanations about judgments of others behaviors.

Or at least that is what I am about at the moment…. 🙂

My way is not the only way. My way may not be best way on other paths.

I might even be blind or ignorant to a better way for this path of mine.

Maybe your own experiences have led you through a similar path? Maybe that path showed an alternate way, a more effective way that delivered better results and helped you, helped those that you cared for?

Maybe that even inspires you to share an alternate way?

If so, I thank you in advance and will love to contemplate it. I do not know the answers. I simply am looking for more.

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Cliff hanger lifestyle

Is a Cliff Hanger Lifestyle Right for me?

I woke from my dream. My heart beat started to slow down. All was back to normal. I was Jackie Chan, and a massive explosion had not really, just ripped through the heart of my favorite city.

Sigh.

It was time to get going, resume my undercover role. Put my ‘face’ on and proceed to wind up this case.

The dream had shaken me. The desolation of the explosion in my city rocked me.

I reminded myself that it was just a dream.

[6 hours later]

The memory of my dream last night included the vision of the desolation. This memory flashed before my eyes now as I held the shoulder fired SAM aimed at the high railed train carrying explosives heading to the heart of my city.

These were not suicide bombers. The explosives were cover for their getaway. They held a device that could destroy the world.

My choice was impossible. I could let them get away and control the world or destroy the world
OR
I could fire now, destroy the device, destroy them, and take out blocks and blocks of my city.

I was looking at the same area of the city that I had witnessed in my dream, before the desolation my dream showed.

Realization washed through me.

I was the destroyer of my city in my dream & now maybe in reality.

I wish I had grown up to be an actor instead of a counter terrorism police officer.

I didn’t want this choice.

Why me?

What would I do now in real life????

If you are wondering what choice Jackie Chan made, you’ll have to wait a bit. This is a cliff hanger, a cliff hanger from my own dream of being Jackie Chan in a different world, a different time, a different place, maybe a different universe.

I’ve never met the Jackie Chan of this world or universe.

I do love his movies. I just watched a tragic epic starring Jackie and John Cusack last week.

But I had dreamed myself as Jackie, who was dreaming and then living a night mare. A night mare choice.

The result was a cliff hanger.

True Blooded Stress in Life

Last evening my girlfriend Sharon and I had a conversation about True Blood. We both really love and enjoy the show. Yet, Sharon had made the conscious decision to stop watching. She is an empath.

The show was eliciting too many parallels in her own life.

She had not encountered real vampires and werewolves and fairies and were-panthers and sex fiends and drug addicts and religiously intolerant people in real life.

Yet, in real life the analogies of those hyper fictional characters were starting to express themselves. She could see parallels.

She chose to stop watching almost at the end of the 3rd or 4th season.

I’m not judging this choice one way or another. I’ve seen all the shows and read all the books.

I have in my life cut out ‘stress inducing’, ‘anxiety inducing’ media. I did it to survive quite literally. There was a time after my separation where my psyche simply couldn’t handle movies, tv, music or news.

I went cold turkey.

It was an easy decision. I did it to save my own skin. It was as easy a decision as throwing a bottle of poison in the trash knowing its immediate danger. It did not stick forever.

Sharon’s decision was different. I think. I’m witnessing and I’m not speaking for her.

It felt as if she were not making a life or death decision. It felt like she was making a path choice.

Along one path led a happy enough life where she could escape into the fiction of a tv show and relax at night.

Along a different path she could live with less anxiety and stress and with fewer parallels drawn to the extreme swings of drama mirrored in a fictional show that would then express itself in real life.

Neither path would be the end of her. One path could lead to a better her.

again, my witness of what I feel I observed, not a judgment…

Witnessing is tricky sometimes.

She shared something this morning on Facebook as she witnessed my children eating left over mac n cheese for breakfast. It’s a thursday morning. It has been a hectic week getting the kids to their various schools and after school functions.

My girls are very physically healthy. My oldest daughter came in second at a local cross country meet Tuesday, before going to a 2.5 hour band rehearsal where she is in the color guard.

Our package of strawberries had molded over while we slept and breakfast options were limited as we made our choices with 10 minutes to spare before we made it out the door.

They chose mac n cheese.

That was a stark contrast for Sharon and helped her see some parallels to stress and anxiety and health problems she has witnessed in others of various ages.

Surround yourself with _____ People

  • Want to be smart, surround yourself with smart people.
  • Want to be happy, surround yourself with happy people.
  • Want to eat healthy, surround yourself with people that eat healthy.
  • Want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people.
  • Want to avoid being toxic, dump the toxic people from your life.

note the super negative aspect of this last one, breaks the formula a bit doesn’t it!

Why am I writing all of this?

So here’s the rub.

I love to write fiction. I love to write in general. I like to learn from what I read. I love to go on a journey when I read. I want to write things that I would love to read.

When we follow a hero on a journey in a fictional story, drama is the stuff that helps us connect and relate and empathetically connect with the character. Via our soul, we delve into the scenarios of ‘what would I do in this situation?’

Now sometimes the hero of the story makes choices and decisions that we would never make and they get into a complicated tangle of a life situation.

Again, via our soul, we delve into the scenarios of ‘What would I do in this situation now?’

Horror movies are often the worst (imho) for this type of thing, because the characters often make decisions that a true living person would never make.

  • Life in a horror movie happens because every possible thing that could go wrong, goes wrong in a horrific way.
  • In comedies, everything that could happen, happens in a comedic way.
  • In action movies, everything that could happen, happens in a high intensity, action packed way.
  • In Zen movies, nothing happens, people just sit around and grow more peaceful.

This explains why no one in Game of Thrones meditates or practices yoga!

Brandon Stark being the possible exception and no one understands him at all!

Envision Your Future, Be your future

“Be the ball. Be your future Danny” ~ Chevy Chase character in Caddy Shacks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWH811TcckU

There are lots of great talks and examples:

  • the power of envisioning our future,
  • practicing sports plays in our heads before playing,
  • running chess strategies through our minds before and as we play, and
  • preparing in general for the things that will come in our future.

The mental exercise prepares us to make the decisions we’ll need to make in the heat of the moment and physically do the things that those decisions require. It gives us each just a little more preparation to react quickly enough to achieve the outcome we desire.

  1. When we practice envisioning with too much fiction, we run through the mental exercise of running from the monster and tripping in the woods and getting caught, even though we haven’t tripped while running in the woods for ages.
  2. We practice saying all the absolute wrong things to the client, the boss, the parents of the person we love, and being taken ridiculously out of context like a comedy.
  3. We practice driving like a maniac to escape the ‘bad guys’ and then jump into a panic and drive like crazy to escape highway troopers when we simply should have pulled over to get a ticket.

Is a Cliff hanger lifestyle for me?

So this morning, I’m asking myself this question.

Do I want to envision these fictions designed to emotionally connect with me?

Do I want to practice ramping up my dopamine levels watching a roller coaster of a tv show?

Do I want to live with the anxiety tonight while I’m trying to sleep of what will happen in the next episode after the cliff hanger?

When I was a kid, the Jumping the Shark concept was witnessed by Americans and anyone that had access to American TV.

We watched Happy Days walk us through episode after episode of our heroes experiencing micro challenges and solving them before the show ended.

Then one day, the mold was broken. Fonzie went to Hawaii and was dared into water skiing over a ramp and jumping over a shark in a underwater fenced in pen.

He literally ‘jumped the shark’ hence the term.

But we did not get to see him land. Not that season. Not the next day.

We lived with the anxiety of whether or not Fonzie survived or became leather jacketed shark chum.

danger of banana peel slip

danger of banana peel slip

Happy Days Spoiler Alert!

He survived. Maybe the title of the show ‘happy days’ gave it away.  🙂

We had to wait months to find out.

These days, tv producers make viral series to keep people binge watching shows. True Blood fits this mold and tends to run through a cycle of about 3 shows.  Every three shows the anxiety ramps up and up and then is dispelled just a bit.  Over the course of a season a bigger plot does the same.

Every show almost has a bit of a cliff hanger. Every season ends on a cliff hanger.

It works. It is entertaining as hell!

Now, I’m an atheist, but I stand by that last phrases, ‘entertaining as hell!’

Because the concept of hell is based on the premise of an endless torment.  In cliff hanger fiction, the hero’s torment never abates. It always escalates to new and more ridiculous heights.

Our Parameters for what is ‘Possible to Endure’ escalate too

hanging by a string

hanging by a string

We stretch and twist and become more amenable to the possibility that we might be able to endure what the hero we watched endured. After all, we’ve mentally gone through the exercise of envisioning it in our minds. It is akin to a memory. In some minor, minimal ways, we endured it too.

So when we are suddenly confronted with a choice or a life twist, we have this expansive amount of experience to draw on from cliff hanger fiction.

We turn in the direction of ‘interesting lives’ and follow paths our ‘heroes’ followed on TV.

We rarely find solace or happiness or comfort or love or companionship or success or anything in these choices.

We do find stress and anxiety and the real world problems from such scenarios manifested in real life.

Is a Cliff hanger lifestyle right for me right now?

This is the question I’m contemplating myself.  Do I need to fill up on anxiety and stress in my relaxing hours? When I’m recharging for the next round of work and no days off, do I need to mentally experience a heroes hell?

Some days the answer might be yes. We can learn from these scenarios. Humans are wonderfully adept at finding wisdom and solutions when confronted with a truth wrapped up in a banana peel. Sometimes we need to have our blinders shaken off so that we can really see.

Some days the answer might be no. Our cup might be too full of dopamine already. We might not need to live our lives through the context, through the lens of Sookie Stackhouse and her relationship with a vampire sucking her life blood and fairy energy. We might have our own real flesh and blood living loved ones fighting for their lives. Wondering if they will land outside the shark pen might be more important than worrying about Fonzie with his hair flying in the breeze.

Maybe we can enjoy the cliff, see its beauty. We can know that life will deal us our own cliff hangers and sometimes life will deal us the love and serenity of safely experiencing the cliff and the heights that they offer.

I have no answers. I have no wisdom. I am only asking questions as I consider my own path.

rainbow at cliff's edge

rainbow at cliff’s edge

Maybe you have made similar choices.

  • How did they work?
  • How did they not work?
  • How might they work now?
  • How might they work later?

What perspective am I missing? 

I’m sure there is more than one. I suspect someone out there might even have a vital clue that will help me find a better path this time or next…

Maybe it will help us all!

Stuck in the Negatives? Is Unsticking It possible?

I listen/watch a Ted Talk or two several mornings out of the week. This morning it was ‘Getting Stuck in the Negatives’ a 2013 talk by Alison Ledgerwood.

This is not so much a ‘how to’ as it is a ‘how to be aware’ so as to ‘avoid it’.

Alison Ledgerwood joined the Department of Psychology at UC Davis in 2008 after completing her PhD in social psychology at New York University. She is interested in understanding how people think, and how they can think better. Her research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, investigates how certain ways of thinking about an issue tend to stick in people’s heads. Her classes on social psychology focus on understanding the way people think and behave in social situations, and how to harness that knowledge to potentially improve the social world in which we all live.

 

focus on lack of focus

Focus on lack of focus

I feel unfocused. I am very focused on this.
The extra focus on my lack of focus makes it very difficult to focus.
Let me try to explain….
I moved into a new place three weeks ago. The moving part is over.
The unpacking is 99% done. The last 1% will not happen. That’s how moving works.
I am back to work but the new surroundings, the change in my regular habits, my local everything….
I have lost balance. This is not a big deal. I am assessing where I am and where I am going. With both points in mind, I can chart a course.
If I could focus.
Yesterday, I had focus. I created a vision board for the last half of 2017. I was on my game, yesterday.
Today, I can see the vision board hanging on the wall. It resonates. It has feeling. It identifies three things I need to do to achieve my vision.
But the unfocus…
I am caught in my own head.
I know of dozens of ways to correct this.
 
  1. Go for a walk
  2. Go to Yoga
  3. Meditate (tried it, didn’t help today)
  4. Go for a Run
  5. Go for a hike
  6. Hike and practice yoga on top of a mountain
  7. Swim a couple miles
  8. Go paddle boarding
  9. Dance (where I am)
  10. Go somewhere and Dance
  11. Change my scenery, talk to people, something
  12. Do more things on my list to build a sense of greater accomplishment
  13. Write to get in touch with where I am at (doing this now)
 
Ok, so there were over a dozen things not ‘dozens’. There have been a few things that have decreased my focus today.
 
  • Not quite enough sleep last night
  • A check in the mail has not yet come
  • It has been too long since I did many of the things in the list above. I’m moving forward on fumes.
  • Experiencing various aches and pains in my body
  • Anxiety (money, time, work, kids, life)
  • Distractions of many varieties, little things, but lots of them
 
There have been a few things that I have done well to improve my focus or at least prevent it from getting worse.
 
  • Helped three clients (1 knows that I helped them. 2 others are on a service plan and do not. Currently, this matters to me. I know not why.)
  • Earned money through my business
  • Received a small commission. This was not expected.
  • Ate a good meal for lunch
  • Finished 2-3 crosswords puzzles with my girlfriend before work
The second list is not long enough. I am grateful and happy about the things that I have accomplished today. It was an ‘OK’ day. Not a good day. Not a great day. It was ‘OK’.
 
Meh
 
At this point the writing is helping to improve my focus. It has helped me know that I’m feeling meh. I’m stuck in my head. I have not accomplished enough today for many reasons.
 
But
 
The day is not over yet.
 
Time to do more….
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.