Thursday, April 30, 2015

Truth

I saw a news story about an ad with a model in a bikini asking "Are you bikini ready?" Apparently, this ad upset a lot of people. One comment was "we want people to know that beauty and fitness come in all shapes and sizes."

Ummm...not exactly. Yes...BEAUTY comes in all shapes and sizes. And if they only discussed beauty, I probably wouldn't have been so engaged. But they included fitness. Fitness is a whole different story. There are different body shapes so there is a variation of shapes and sizes in fitness. But not ALL shapes and sizes are the picture of fitness. By pretending everyone qualifies as fit, we are dishonoring those that actually are fit. This is NOT body shaming...I'm not making fun or insulting anyone...and I'm not interested in witnessing or participating in any of that...I'm just pointing out, people are not the same.

Not everyone is a genius or a sports superstar or a perfect singer or (fill in the blank.) But we live in a culture where we are afraid of leaving people out or hurting feelings, so everyone gets an award for participating. I don't understand. When we acknowledge talent, we are not leaving others out. We are simply honoring talent (and hard work.) I don't think we are doing anyone any favors by pretending everyone is great at everything. It's not real.

When did this start? When I was growing up, you did not automatically get a ribbon or a trophy for participating. If you received an award, it was because you earned it. My elementary school played a recording of the National Anthem over the intercom every morning. You had to try out to be on the recorded performances. Although I participated in all the singing activities during music class, I did not sing well enough to make the recording. It's okay. I really cannot carry a tune. And I'm not scarred because my teacher was honest with me. She was not mean, she was simply recognizing and honoring those with nice singing voices. It didn't occur to me to be upset. Even as a young child, I understood people have different talents. Singing is not mine. You know what probably helped? At home, my parents did not pretend I was an awesome singer. So I was not surprised by the teacher's feedback. I can't carry a tune, but I sing. All the time. I just know that I'm not going to earn my paycheck by singing on a stage.

I think it's awesome to encourage dreams. You should tell young children, they can do and be anything. We live in the land of opportunity. "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work." (Kevin Durant) But. At some point, you have to be honest. We are not genetically programmed the same way. Not everyone can be an NBA star, even if they work really hard at it. Our brains are wired differently. Some things will come easier or harder for you...just because of how your brain works.

There is a wide range of average...but in general, most people are average at most things. This is why it's so amazing when someone has remarkable talent. We should recognize and celebrate true talent. This whole everyone deserves a gold star thing is ridiculous. And now, I will step off my soapbox.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Movies vs Books

When it comes to movies, I want happily every after. I want to see the boy get the girl. I want to see an impossible or unlikely dream realized. I want to see long lost loved ones reconnect. If a heartbreak must be involved, I want to see something profound come out of the tragedy. I want to see the good thing that never would've occurred without the devastation. In other words, I still want to see a hopeful, happily ever after ending. The beginning and the middle can be a mess, but I want a happy ending.

When it comes to books, you can throw all that out. I want to read something real. I don't mean it has to be true...I love fiction...but I want to read about raw emotion, human desires, and real thoughts (not the edited, politically correct communication we share with the world.) I want to read about the small, subtle moments that become a significant memory. I want to read about events that shape our perception of the world...and the questions that keep us up at night. I want to read about how we became the person we are...and how we choose. Uncertainty is okay...because it's real. The ending doesn't have to be so neatly tied up, because life rarely unfolds the way we imagined. (Sometimes it's better!) 

Life is hard. (Even for people who look like they have it made.) There is no instruction manual and no crystal ball. The number of choices with "clear, right" answers are far fewer than those with "not so clear, just trying to make the best decision I can and hope it works out." You never really know all the consequences of a specific decision...there are a million unintended consequences that you couldn't predict...you will only learn of them after the fact...and then it's too late. But in the midst of all this, there are beautiful, perfect stories. Those are the ones I want to see on the big screen. I still want to know about the rest, I just don't want them accompanied with someone else's visual. I would rather read them.

Is there a difference in your movie and book preferences? What moves you? What kind of stories do you get lost in? What makes you ponder the world? For me, it's all about human behavior. 

"Why do you think you think?" -Ayn Rand

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sleep > Daylight

I have never liked Daylight Savings Time. I know, I know...extra daylight. Whoo-hoo. Sorry, I can't get into it. If you put sleep next to daylight, sleep wins every time. Sleep > daylight. Even as a kid, (when that "extra" hour of daylight meant an "extra" hour of outside time) I dreaded Spring Forward. And let's be honest here...the day doesn't get longer because we move the clock. (Notice it's now dark when you wake up?!) The day gets longer (or shorter) because of the Earth's rotation on a tilted axis. We do not make the days longer by changing the clock. (We can't make the days longer. That's all science.) We merely change the official record of what "time" the sun rises and sets. On Saturday, sunrise occurred at 6:47am and sunset occurred at 6:10pm. Day length 11:23. At 2am, we moved the clocks. On Sunday, sunrise occurred at 7:38am and sunset occurred at 7:16pm. Day length 11:38. Yes, we experienced +15 minutes of daylight...but this was not because we moved the clock. We *do* get something from moving the clocks, but our "gains" are not positive. We get an altered sleep pattern that will affect us for days/weeks, lower productivity, and increased heart attacks and traffic accidents. I'm not making this up, there is legitimate data behind these sad facts. For years, I've joked that the Monday following DST should be a national holiday. But I've changed my mind. I want to abolish DST.

*Sunrise/sunset times above based on recorded times for my home address. The actual times for your home address may be slightly different.*

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Random thoughts

A peek inside my mind.

❤️ Have you ever read a quote that resonated with you so strongly it stopped you in your tracks? That's how I felt when I read the following quote. So true. So smart. I love this quote so much I could almost consider a tattoo. (Okay not really...I will never get inked...but that's another post.) Maybe I could commit to a wall hanging. (Yeah, that won't happen either. But I do love this quote.)

"A criticism is just a really bad way of making a request. So why don't you just make the request." Diane Sawyer

The world would be so much nicer if everyone understood this. I can't stand to be around critical people. They drain my energy. When I consider the intention, I must admit...not all criticism is meant to be malicious. It's not the message, it's the delivery.

❤️ It seems like the only way many women know how to start a conversation is by asking  "Do you have children?" "No." Awkward silence. "Do you want kids?" "No." More awkward silence. I love kids, but I do not feel the need to procreate to justify my femininity or purpose in life. I have a lot of thoughts on this topic...I could write a book. I didn't bring this up to defend my choice (it doesn't need defending.) I brought this up to point out how pervasive and weird this is. I get that many women my age are raising kids, so it's a big part of their life. If they want to talk about kids, why don't they just tell me a story about their kids? I'm happy to talk about kids...but to start with that question is just weird. Even more strange, this is also the first question other child free women ask. During my last haircut..."Do you have kids?" "No." "Do you want kids?" "No." Awkward silence. The stylist finally said "I don't have children either...I don't even have a boyfriend." What??? I was so confused...why would another child free woman (not actively trying to start a family) begin a conversation with a complete stranger like this? It makes no sense to me. This is not something men do...even men with kids. Dads are just as proud of their kiddos as moms are...but they don't start every conversation with "Do you have kids?" Why do so many women do this? What is the best response? I go for honesty...hey you asked...you should be able to handle it. The awkward silence tells me people are uncomfortable with my answer. So maybe there is a delicate way to answer this and avoid the awkward silence that always follows????

❤️ I go to a crossfit gym. Yes, I call it a gym. I once read an article about why crossfitters are annoying...and my gym didn't do anything on the list. Most people there call it a gym. I've never heard anyone criticize another's diet. (I have even witnessed the consumption of doughnuts and candy.) I've never heard anyone make fun of other fitness styles. We don't take pictures of our bruises or ripped up hands. We *do* talk about crossfit and lifting in the gym or with gym friends. Outside the gym, I do not discuss crossfit. Just like outside my job, I do not talk about work. I guess I'm going to break both those rules right here in the same blog post.

The open for the Crossfit Games started last Thursday. This is the 1st phase to finding "the fittest person on earth." So last week, Crossfit released several new youtube documentaries on the 2014 games...I'm sure this was all in an effort to get folks excited about the 2015 games. I watched the documentaries because a loved one recommended them. They were interesting and inspiring and eye-opening. Aha moment...I am not cut from the same cloth as these awesome athletes. I'm not just referring to their fitness level, I'm referring to their mindset. My brain just doesn't work that way.

I was discussing this with a work friend (who also does crossfit!) and she had some interesting insight. "Do you think you would feel differently if you did a different job?" We don't have a "leaderboard" at work. We have "ranking reports." Every Monday and twice a month, we get new ranking reports. In terms of our performance, we know exactly where we stand (and so does everyone else) every. single. day. "Don't you think at the end of the day, you're just mentally exhausted from that? In our culture, we are always trying out for the team...proving we can play. Do you think you would feel differently if your normal day was a less intense environment?" Huh. Interesting. Maybe. But I'm on this ride until it stops...hopefully that's retirement. I'm not looking to change my job. So at the end of the day, I guess it doesn't matter.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Downtime gratitude

Today is the last day of my 2 week holiday break. I'm trying my hardest to focus on enjoying the day rather than let the "return to the real world" blues consume me. This has been the most enjoyable vacation I've had in a long time. I actually had that thought multiple times a day every day for the last 2 weeks. I've made many verbal and (even more) silent declarations of gratitude for this downtime. I didn't even know my soul was so starved for this break until it was given to me.

I had grand plans. I planned to go to the gym, go to yoga, go to the library, go to a few shows at our local (world renowned!) theater, organize and declutter, bake, craft, journal, shop, and anything else I desired. Go. Go. Go. Except it would be go, go, go for fun and because I want to.

So what did I do? I went to the gym. Never made it to yoga. I have a favorite yoga studio and I LOVE it there. But it's a 3 hour time commitment for just 1 class (that includes 1 hour and 10 minutes of driving just to get to and fro.) I couldn't get excited about driving or that time commitment...even when my schedule was so flexible. I tried to find a local studio...I asked around, but there just isn't anything desirable closer. If I had the training & talent, I'd say that might be a pretty good business opportunity. I let the yoga go. I made it to the library 3 times. I read 9 books. I'm working on my 10th. I still have one on the shelf and a list of 10 more I'd like to read. I heart the library! We went to 1 show at the local theater. It was fantastic! We will go again, maybe make it a seasonal date. I did organize and declutter, but not nearly as much as I planned. This one is kind of a joke because we are pretty organized and somewhat minimalists. But there is always extra stuff. I took down (and packed up) some decorative tchotchkes that no longer make my heart sing. I cleaned out a bin full of technological accessories, my hair accessories, and t-shirt drawer. I donated clothes, artwork I'll never display, and random household items we no longer use. I never got around to cleaning out my entire wardrobe. Next time. I did bake, once. I did shop, once. I did not craft /journal. But I did do a budget and set financial goals for 2015. We randomly stumbled on a house we liked...and dreamed of our next home. We watched tv, hung out in jammies, and I napped. A lot. Like pretty much every day. I'm going to miss that.

This is the first time in several years that we didn't travel for the holiday. It was fabulous. Yesterday, I was feeling a little guilty...I didn't do anything during my extended break. But after making this list, I see I actually did quite a bit. I just did it at my leisure. Who knew chores could be leisure? There was plenty of downtime...naps and books...but it wasn't totally unproductive. Not once was I bored. This vacation was a positive reminder to honor my "introvert." To restore my energy, I need peace and quiet and calm and stillness.  This time, there will be no "end of holiday" blues because I feel rested and rejuvenated. And that might be the best way possible to end a vacation. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I quit making New Year's Resolutions...

because I'm perfect. KIDDING!

I used to make New Year's resolutions. When I was a kid, they were the same every year. This can be looked at in one of 2 ways.

1. I failed every year and would have to try again. 
Or. 
2. Even then, I knew what was important to me. (Family and health.) 

Those resolutions were: to fight with my brother less and to stop biting my nails. Eventually, my brother and I grew up...and we grew close. But the truth is, we were always close. Yes, we fought...sometimes it seemed like a lot. We were kids...with kid perceptions and kid coping skills. Maturity = the end of all our sibling discord. Just as our sibling squabbles ended suddenly (without any fanfare or momentous event to mark the occasion), so did the nail biting. The nail biting habit took a lot longer for me to break, but one day I quit. I wasn't trying to quit...I don't even know when it happened. I just noticed I had fingernails. "Wow. I wonder when that happened?" I know long fingernails and health might seem to be a stretch...but when I was a kid, I was super fortunate to be healthy...and surrounded by healthy loved ones. So I didn't really know what illness looked like. (I know what real illness looks like now. And that makes me appreciate health even more.) When I was a kid, I wanted my hands to look "well" so I wanted to break that habit.

I grew up. The resolutions changed (though not much...my theme seems to revolve around relationships & health.) Until they stopped. I had an aha moment. I don't need a new year to make positive changes. I don't even need a new month, or week, or day. I just need a new opportunity. For example, if I make a poor food choice...then the next meal is an opportunity to make a better choice. Or not. The point is...to recognize I always have the choice. Choice and opportunity exist literally all the time. This truth freed me.

So it's that time of year. I'm not that active on facebook anymore, but I noticed my newsfeed is full of all or nothing resolution declarations. And it got me thinking...why are we so extreme? Instead of "I'll do my best to take care of my body as well as I know how" people are making declarations like "I will never eat sugar, fried foods, grains, dairy, or anything not organic again." Really?! Well good for you. Maybe. I hope you can live with whatever change you want to make and are not just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment by striving for an impossible, unattainable goal. It's not that I've given up...or I don't want to improve on anything. It's just that I see my life as a series of moments rather than a calendar defined time reel. If I think I'd like to try something or do something better/different, then I can immediately plan for it rather than make some big deal out of it. I want to live my life the best I can Every. Single. Day. Not just during resolution season.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dreams

I almost always remember my dreams.  But not the ones that matter.  The dreams that happen when the rest of my body is unconscious...I remember those.  The dreams of what I want to accomplish or contribute to the world...I have no idea.

When I watch young athletes compete, I imagine they dreamed of that moment their whole lives.  Most likely, they have been working towards competition for as long as they can remember. I know a very strong competitive athlete.  I once asked her "Can you remember when you got into your sport?  Do you remember why you chose this sport?"  She couldn't remember choosing.  Playing had been part of her life for so long...it was always there.  Whether she chose or it was chosen for her didn't seem to matter...she obviously took to it, fell in love, and dreamed big.

Did I ever dream of playing a sport?  I can't remember.

When I notice someone passionate about their job, I often ask how they chose their field.  Most (passionate) people (I've met) knew what they wanted to do since they were young kids.  (Side note...anecdotally...this seems to be especially true for very technical fields...which I guess makes sense because the schooling required is overwhelming...it's hard for adults to transition into those fields as a 2nd career later on.)

What did I want to be when I was a kid?  I honestly can't remember.

I like to ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up. Their answers offer an interesting perspective on the world. Plus, they usually have great ideas.  Maybe one will strike me with some sort of "aha" moment and I'll remember...

I'm inspired by people that follow their dreams.  But I'm also a teeny tiny bit jealous.  I can't remember my dreams...maybe I never had them?!  Maybe I was too practical.  Maybe I was too scared to dream. Maybe my imagination wasn't quite so active? Maybe there were just too many possibilities in the world for me to choose one. Or two or three.  ("too many choices" is my nemesis.  It's overwhelming and exhausting.)

My kiddo self did think about the future.  I knew I would be (financially) independent.  (Financial independence equals freedom...this was understood at a very young age.) I just never defined how I would become independent.  

I'm inspired by people that are great at what they do.  After I appreciate the showcase of talent, I think "I wish I were that great at something."  I silently acknowledge all the hard work it takes to become great...and then I think "I'm not sure I'm interested enough in any one thing to work as long and hard as it would take to become great."  

But then I remember people like J.K. Rowling, Julia Child, Vera Wang, Sylvester Stallone, and Colonel Sanders...people who became successful later in life.  Time and opportunity exists.  I just have to start dreaming.