Vision Board Example - pexels-photo-264693

I Never Wear Bandanas – Vision Boards, Tree Chopping and Cruise Lines Now Hiring

“A Tree: First you chop it down, then you chop it up” ~ George Carlin
This morning I finished meditating. Now, I’m sitting at the top of a carpeted stair case. At this time of day, I can soak in the limited pre-winter sun beam that only comes in this one window . I have a bandana tied around my head.
I never wear bandanas.
I’m getting into my un-comfort zone. I’m trying to feel the world from a different perspective with my third eye blindfolded.
Earlier, I read an article by a friend and client. He was not happy with the state of his new industry.

Vision Boards – WTF

While I read, I kept glancing up at my vision board. A vision board is a drawing. It is part mission statement, part goal. These combine in a visual diagram drawn next to an image of the current state of affairs. In the middle is a list of three things that take a person or group from the current state of affairs to the future goal. It is not created in the order I just described.
I’m working in my un-comfort zone. If you continue reading, give up expectations of order.
I watched a TedTalk earlier. Actually, I watched three. The first was in Spanish and talked about floating balloon cities. I don’t speak Spanish but I’m learning French again. I did understand the words Mucho Grande. I liked this talk quite a bit, partly because I named my daughter after the President of the solar system. He ruled from a bubble city floating above Jupiter.
Another Ted Talk discussed Slow Hunches or something. It described how Darwin felt that he had an epiphany when he came up with his theory of natural selection. Darwin’s copious notes tell a different story. He developed a strong, slow hunch about Natural selection months before he realized what he was thinking.
I might be slow hunching now.
The same talk described the benefits of ‘opening up to each other’ and mixing ideas to create amazing new solutions. The genesis of GPS is an example of such a beast.
My friend’s article felt a bit like a complaint with no solution.
There’s nothing wrong with complaining. In fact, I find that I rarely get something fixed (quickly) until I have complained about it out loud. In fact, the faster I say something is ‘impossible’, the faster I figure out how to make it possible.
We often need to put voice to the pain we feel so that we can do something to change the state of things.
As I ponder his challenge, I keep thinking, this article was a complaint, but it could have been a vision board.
It could be an article that sets up the problem (the current state). It could then paint a portrait of a future state.
Then it could list 3 things that could be done now to move in the direction of the future state. It might not solve the problems of the current state.
However, problems like navigating through a forest, is sometimes easier to do after we start.
We need to move in the direction of a thing, before we can ever course correct.
Unless, someone has a GPS Problem satellite, hovering 150k feet above us, that can calculate where we are and where we need to be and how to get there.
Now there’s an idea. How do we do that?
What is our Value in the world?
This was one of the core issues of this article. A group was trying to offer work to a single person by courting hundreds if not thousands of people to compete for the same job.
In chasing a large number of people, they had cut the offer amount to about one third of what it should have listed for according to my friend. Their thought must have been, if we put this out there to a large enough group of people, someone will take it at this price and we’ll save tens of thousands of dollars.
My friend noted, that when this happens, it decreases the value for everyone in the industry. A lower tide lowers all ships.
Fun Fact -The offer came from a cruise line.
I just brought my girlfriend’s three legged cat in from outside. She had gone out to ‘eat the grass’. It’s a part of her daily routine. She doesn’t stay long now that it is colder outside. Her remaining bones get chilled easy. Now, she is sitting atop the stairs in the sun beam I occupied before.
She’s trying to creep onto my lap, but that spot is taken by my laptop.

Future Vision – A World with Visions & fewer complaints

  1. So, I’m going to create a blog template. Something that is preformatted to showcase a problem, the current state. Something that is also pre-formatted to showcase the future state with solutions running.
  2. Then it will have a big arrow connecting those two things.
  3. Finally over top the arrow will be a quick list of things that can be done to help make it so.
  4. Bonus Round – There will also be an invitation for readers to chime in and co-mingle their visions of how they can make it so too.

What the Goal Isn’t

In this situation, the goal would not be to have a bunch of people tell my friend how to do the thing better nor argue about the 3 methods he might conceive of.

What the Goal is

The goal is to get more people envisioning their own role in the thing, and sharing how they would fit in the system.
For my military friends out there, this might be a little similar to the brainstorming process that comes with an After Action review, where everyone works to identify 3 things that went well and 3 things that could have gone better. The idea with an AAR is to keep what works and improve upon what isn’t working well enough. It is an iterative brainstorm.
This Vision Post could be helpful for the individual that writes it, but it could evolve into an iterative Hive Vision Post as well.
Bringing multiple people together in common vision cause to make the world a better place….
Now to do the thing!

Afternoon Addendum

I ran with some of the playful creativeness of the morning. I made an initial draft of a template for a  Blog Post Template for a Vision Board.
You can see a bit here…
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Lack of Consent – Your Resistance is taking me Higher?

This title should be re-written maybe….

Your LoveResistance is not taking me Higher

I was partially inspired by the Jackie Wilson song ‘Higher and Higher’

This is the ironic or sarcastic feeling I have at the moment.

I do not feel higher. I feel lower.

I have a habit that brings me down.

I like to find things that work. I like to find things that make life better. Sometimes the things I find are solutions. Sometimes they are not solutions but make other things better enough that the problem is not a big deal anymore.

All this is great if I do these things for myself.

All this is not great if someone else does not want to do this AND I attempt to brainstorm with them.

I have held a number of positive notions about brainstorming for a long time.

What is a brainstorm?

Per google

brainstorm definition

brainstorm definition

Brainstorm Assault

As I write this, far too many people are in the news for sexual assault, sexual harassment and more. In some of those cases, consent is a major issue.  Consent does not always make the difference between something being appropriate or inappropriate, but it does correlate in many of the cases.

I feel like I am almost always in brainstorming mode. I’d posit that my brain is just wired that way. It’s my natural state of rest.

Maybe brainstorming is my super power, maybe it is my kryptonite.

The thing is, brainstorming is a group activity. It generally requires consent from the members that will take part. With that consent comes the rules of brainstorming that might include the concept that all ideas have some merit, even if they are only there to be the creative spark, or bridge to something else. Maybe some ideas are the things that help us contrast other ideas, ergo some offerings in a brainstorming session might really be pretty bad and help us see more clearly what is really good.

However, it is important in a brainstorming session to not naysay someone else’s contribution.  Bringing negativity to a brainstorming session is the best way to twist the hose of productivity into a tight knot.

Getting knotted up before receiving consent

This is my challenge. I’m almost always in brainstorming mode. Yet, I lose awareness that this is not the state of existence for many others.

If I reply in a conversation with a brainstorming like suggestion, I get stepped on. I sometimes get stepped on hard.

I have experienced this professionally. I have experienced this in relationships. I experienced it today.

I can listen well. I can hear well. I can give space.

These skills can help others gain insight into their root problems, challenges, hang ups, etc.

Sometimes, it is simply helpful to be heard.  Sometimes, we need an assist to see problems, challenges, hangups and more.

But…

I almost always want to jump into brainstorm mode. It is not easy to turn this off.

Many people (maybe most) rarely ask for consent to ‘just be heard and nothing else.’  They will often ‘dump’ their problems on others.  The intent of their sharing is not expressed. Consent to be heard is not requested.

Consent can be a two way street

People that want to be heard (only) need to request consent to be heard (or hire someone for that – often called a therapist).

People that want to jump into brainstorming mode need to request consent for that as well (or hire a team of people for that – often called employees).

When a person that wants to be heard crosses a brainstormers path and neither ask for consent, tensions rise.

The person that wants to be heard will not feel like they are being heard. They will hear and endless list of alternatives. It will sound like ‘should have done‘ suggestions. They will feel judged. They will feel guilt for not having done better. They will not hear their feelings expressed back to them let alone recognition that those feelings are ‘OK’.

The person that wants to brainstorm a problem and improve or solve it will feel resistance to their suggestions. Their good ideas, bad ideas and everything in between will all be shot down, not on merit, but because they were suggested at all.

The resistance to being heard and the resistance to opening the flow to creatively brainstorm will bring both people down energetically.

It will feel like shit. It might feel like an argument. It might feel like stubbornness. It might feel like uncaring callousness. It will feel confusing.

The person that dumps without consent will seek someone else to re-dump on as they still have not been heard.

The person that brainstorms without consent will seek someone else also as their creativity has not been heard either.

Both will eventually isolate and give up if this repeats.

If I can’t be heard, why should I share my feelings?

Two heads are better than one

This truism applies in brainstorming. Almost everyone in the western world has heard this saying. I suspect there are similar sayings in other cultures.

The thing is, not everyone has been educated or trained in brainstorming, how to do it nor how to do it effectively.

The same is true of actively listening. Most people have little education or training in how to engage in active listening.

Should know better

I have both education and training in both.

I still can’t get the consent part right. My education and training and my ability to internalize the lessons from both have only just started to spark awareness of the importance of consent here.

This article is written, as I work on this awareness. I’m attempting to build my awareness higher and higher.

If I can get the consent right, maybe I can connect in love more effectively both to actively listen and to actively brainstorm at the right time.

If I do not, the resistance will never truly take me higher. It will hold me back and thwart my progress. It will prevent me from being able to help others as well!

 

So….

Your LoveResistance is not taking me Higher,

but it is helping me see the way!

Moving beyond being Stuck

Move Past Things that Hold Us Back

I had surgery last week. A small skin cancer tumor no longer resides below my right eye in my cheek.

I never had cancer before. This was a ‘small’ cancer. It was not life threatening. It could cause problems later in life, but it is gone now.

I never had a surgery that cut into my skin before. I received many stitches in my face. I am fortunate. These stitches are my first too.

The surgery was 5 days ago. It took more out of me than I expected. I slept a great deal.

I could not smile for several days. That took a lot out of me too.

Before the surgery, my life kept accelerating. It grew and it grew better, but the surgery forced me to slow down and pause.

I need to speed up again.

Things are holding me back. I can feel them. I need to move past these ‘things’.

I do not know how, so I am writing through it here and now to find my path again.

What holds me back?

First, there are things that hold me back. There are things that help me move forward with ease. I need to remove the former and heal or repair the latter.

Example

I am depressed. This holds me back.

I am unable to exercise due to stitches for a few more days. This prevents me from running or practicing yoga. Those are things that help me move forward with ease.

The depression has many roots. Some are ‘all in my head’. I have an initial therapy appointment for the second week of December. This is the earliest the VA can get me in to start working on me.

I made the steps to get that going though!

My finances are upside down. I have worked on this for quite a while. I make progress every week. Yet, I am still in the upside down. This is frustrating and a driver of my depression as well.

I work to accept what I cannot fix in the now. I work to fix what I can. It is far easier to do this work well, when I do not feel depressed. The depression creates a ‘catch 22’.

I self medicate with a 200 mg caffeine pills as a daily supplement. This gets me through the hardest time of day, mornings.

It’s not enough. It helps.

I suffer from distractions. I do not call this ADD or ADHD. I do not have a diagnosis for either.

I get hung up on things:

Cash Flow Problems – Clients that do not pay me or pay slowly. This is a big trigger for me. Even when the amount is inconsequential, it can stop me in my tracks.
News & Politics – For 18 months I kept these out of my life. It helped. They have seeped back into life.
Interruptions – Running errands for myself or the family distracts me. This is a big one. As a half time single parent, it can be more challenging every other week. I get behind when I have custody of my children. Writing that sentence makes me feel guilty as hell.

This list is not comprehensive. It is a small sample.

It helps me to have many things to do.

Before writing this:

  • I unloaded the dishwasher,
  • reloaded my medicine box for the next week,
  • made the bed,
  • took a shower,
  • dressed my wound, and
  • had a healthy snack.

These small tasks gave me momentum to start writing.

Writing will be another task that will help me move onto client work that requires more writing.

That will feed to another task and another.

I build momentum to move forward. Moving is necessary to move past things that hold me back.

How do I move past this?

It helps me to write out the things that ail me. I need to put voice to a thing to move past it.

So writing this now, is helping me move past everything I mention herein.

Writing alone is not enough. Therapy next month will help.

Reading books, taking courses, viewing things on screens that inspire help me too.

I am overdue for a trip to the comedy club. Laugh therapy always helps me. I laugh at life’s challenges all the time. I often have a ‘good attitude’ even while depressed.

Laughing ‘at my circumstances’ is not healthy. It is self deprecatory.

Laughing along with an audience led by a professional comedian can be very healthy.

I need that soon.

I need to get out and dance as well. Music and moving to music, helps me metabolize my depression. It helps me transform into a positive person.

I need that soon too.

Did I really put the monster down?

In a month or a year or 5, will I look back and witness that I moved past the things that held me back?

Will I have put down the monster?

I do not know.

I will set some goals. I need to consciously see what I am working to improve. I need to KNOW when I have achieved it.

I will need to course correct if I fall of the path. I will need to adjust my goals if my view from the next vista indicates, I have chosen poorly.

In some ways, I may never put the monster down. That’s ok.

For many years, I never needed most of this stuff.

Well, I did, but I didn’t know it.

I lived without knowing what I needed to be happy, healthy, or to perform at peak performance.

I know better now.

Many of these steps are one part first aid and another part ongoing maintenance.

If I heal for now, and stop performing the maintenance, a serious problem might develop.

First aid might not be enough!

I can get to an easier place in life. I can get back to a place where I have things taken care of as part of my regular routine.

Next Steps for Me

So I will publish this short article. I will help a client and then another and another.

I will help some of those same clients pay me.

I will improve my work and business. I am doing a lot to get far more organized. I am cutting costs too using new tools.

I will build more momentum.

My face will heal and the cut will stop oozing blood at unfortunate times.

I will exercise again. I will reboot my head practicing yoga again.

I will do many more things and do them well.

I will make mistakes and learn from some of them. With luck and effort, I will learn from all of them!

What would you do? What would be next for you?

I do not know everything. I am in unchartered territory and learning as I go.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

🙂

Enough about me. How are you? What would you do for you?

What will you do next for you?

Care to share some notes? Maybe we can learn from each other, maybe not.

I do know that it is healthy and helpful to work through life with others.

Thank you for coming along for the ride!

 

A Month and 8 days

That’s how long its been since I sat down to write here.

It has been a long month. It was tough as hell at times. I made lots of progress with life.

I feel I need to unload all of this so that I can come back and actually dig in on me in my next installment. 🙂

here’s a quick long run down, not in any particular order

  • I had skin cancer removed last Thursday
  • I published my first book on Amazon (needs an Illustrator make over)
  • I was broke
  • I had money
  • Business was great through out (cash flow was on and off and off and back on)
  • I have made great strides professionally to re-organize my business (and cut costs too)
  • We had a Halloween blowout with over 200 trick or treaters
  • We put the Halloween decorations away for another year
  • Due to surgery, I haven’t been able to exercise much and I’m stir crazy! (no yoga, running, hand stands, walking is even a bit challenging and sweating it up is out of the question)
  • Got in for a counseling eval, and have first appointment set up for December (not too fast to start via the VA, normally they are awesome and fast)
  • I have just about wrapped a complicated Donation makeover for a client in San Francisco
  • I have done lots and lots of other work for several other clients.
  • A project with one client got lost in the woods and might be sideways now (hoping to come up for air soon and figure out what happened to that one)
  • Hoping to do some amazing work related stuff with an old friend
  • Got the run around from Google My Business local stuff that has had many errors in Google’s system, too many hours spent dealing with support and chasing fake reviews for a client
  • I have been triggered and witnessed lots of others triggered by 1) politics and 2) the #MeToo campaign as a result, both situations have had an impact on my life directly and indirectly this last month
  • Got my flu shot; did not get sick from it
  • Lost 4 pounds, gained 3 back (no exercise last week + halloween candy)
  • Been very inspired by podcasts from Tony Robbins, the Hidden Brain, The Sidehustle Show
  • Been inspired by movies The Founder and Hyper-Normalization
  • Read some great books
  • Done a ton of training on Coding and SEO and up to 27% fluency in French with Duolingo (I am going slow with the latter on purpose. I want the language to stick this time.)
  • I have been there for people that needed me.
  • Other people have been there for me when I needed them.
  • I was not able to live up to expectations for some, and others did not always live up to my expectations.
  • Always working to live without expectations and create healthy boundaries for people that expect things of me without clearing that with me first.
  • I have started my second children’s book.
  • I have redrafted a new outline for a nonfiction book for work. I’ve written many chapters but getting lost in the weeds so doing something about that!
  • I have driven my kids all over the place every other week.
  • I’m working to dig into some problems with one of my children’s schools. Parent teacher conferences filled up and was not given an alternate date, Principal has stopped answering emails. Probably will need to go and observe classes next.  It’s been a problem for over a month now.
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.

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.