Posted in mindset

Writing, gut feelings, photography nonsense

I have some drafts that are nearly done that I could have finished up and shared today, but they all have something about them that doesn’t feel right for sharing right now.

I don’t know what it is, but in cases like this, I defer to the gut feeling.

(As a person who has some anxiety issues, the gut is not always reliable. In cases like today, even if I’m being led astray, it’s not a big deal.)

Instead … how about tales from a game?

I re-joined a photography game app that I had quit when the school year started. Came in the top 10% of one of the challenges (several thousand entries), which was some good external validation.

Of course, it’s a game, and you can (literally) buy exposure which will get you more votes unless your photo is really bad, so I take awards with a grain of salt. But I’ve had other photos that had plenty of exposure (as far as the game will let me see) that haven’t come in the top 30%, so there’s that.

And no, I don’t buy it.

Each challenge has a theme, though, and too many people post photos that aren’t in the theme. I sometimes report them as off-topic (there’s a mechanism in the app for that). Depends on how irritated I am, I guess. (Probably partially depends on what my work week has been like. Follow the damn directions!)

The app allows for certain nudity, but those photos are labeled as “adult.” As a user, I can choose to see or not see those photos. Usually, they’re of topless or naked women. (Nursing women are not “adult,” thankfully.) But occasionally a dick pic finds its way in.

I always report the dick pics as off topic; they’re tasteless and I’m tired of toxic men. Except for the challenge with the theme “Things that start with D.”

Posted in audience participation, connections, differences, hope, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, physical health, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Workplace wellness

Today’s post is full of broad sweeping statements. Of course they are not true for every individual in every category. But I’m not going to make a disclaimer in every paragraph because it’s unwieldy to read.

Many companies are introducing (or have already introduced) wellness incentive plans regarding various biomarkers of their employees (with questionable legality).

But stress is seemingly worse for your health than any of the markers they’re measuring.

How many employers are actively seeking to reduce their employees’ stress levels?

None? Benefit of the doubt and say a few?

This embodies so many facets of America.

1. We’re unhealthy. We eat badly; we move insufficiently; we’re overweight and underslept; we lack meaningful community; we view vulnerability—necessary for connection—as a weakness; we prioritize work over play, over rest, over family; in addition to all of the -isms that culturally define us.

2. We don’t believe in health care as a right. Which, on a tangent, is mostly sick care. (For more details on that, see point #1.) Only people who work the right jobs for the right people for the right number of hours get to have health insurance. And even then, many of those people still have to pay for it. Sometimes a lot. And pay even more for their families to be covered. Which doesn’t even cover all of what’s potentially needed.

3. Companies are not interested in their people. They are interested in money. So they do whatever they can to siphon more money to the top people. (Because, despite current mindset, companies are not actually in themselves people. They’re just run by people. So we could more accurately say that the people at the top of companies are disinterested in everyone else in the company, so long as they continue to live large.)

Whether that’s hiring fewer salaried employees and expecting them to work more (sometimes way more) than 40 hours per week, or hiring more hourly employees part time so they don’t have to pay for benefits, or paying as little as possible, or countless other possibilities, the money needs to pour up.

It’s a giant mindset problem. A cultural problem. A mental health problem. A shaming problem. A physical health problem. An economic problem.

I don’t know how to fix it.

But I do know that I can contact people in charge of stuff (whether it’s government officials or company leaders), and I can vote. (Are you registered? If not, open another browser window and go do it now! People taking it all for themselves depend on your apathy to maintain or advance their position.)

And I can do my best to be the change I want to see, live my life out loud, and hope others join me. (And they do. They always do.)

Be the change. Be self-aware, even (especially) when it sucks. Be open. Be vulnerable. But be fierce.

(Except on the days that you just need to lay on the couch. Then just lay.)

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, tips

Making just a little time to let yourself feel better

I found a good reminder for myself. Something that I was doing that I shared with my online world a few years ago that maybe will help you, too.

Here’s the context:

I was working part time, teaching band. The schedule was brutal, many of the classes were brutal, and there was very little professional fulfillment.

I was taking Anatomy and Physiology online at the same time. Super-interesting, but also brutal.

And parenting a 5-year-old.

That semester, The Climbing Daddy (who was not yet my husband) and I were also house-hunting and ending up buying (we closed in December, shortly after finals, in the midst of concert season). Because, y’know, there wasn’t already enough going on.

But I was using Duo Lingo, a language-learning app, and doing a bit each day, among other things, and apparently, it helped the overwhelm.

This is what I wrote:

So there’s work, which is … less than amazing.

There’s A&P, which is interesting but sucking out whatever life blood work leaves.

Meal planning and prep has gone to hell.

Exercise is still happening—almost exclusively running and climbing—but not as frequently as I’d like.

But I’ve done a little bit of Spanish every day for almost three months, and I’ve recently started playing my uke most days just for 5-10 minutes (F is learning, too, so we play together), and these things help me feel a little bit like I have free time. Which makes everything else a little more bearable.

 

In conversation surrounding this, I mentioned that our eating was still relatively healthy, just more pre-made foods which I wasn’t excited about, partially because of quality, and partially because it was causing a lot more trash.

But the point is—if you’re feeling like you’re at your limit, take 10 or 20 minutes and do something you enjoy. It’s not that much time, you can totally find it some days, even if not daily, and it will help your mental game.

And it’s nearly all a mental game, isn’t it?

Posted in about me, gifts, parenting, storytelling

Father’s Day gifts…belated

So … it’s not anywhere close to Father’s Day.

Here’s the story:

The Kid and I went to Burst of Butterflies, a local painting place (canvas, ceramic, etc.) where he painted two small identical tiles that said #1 Dad.

We were traveling for the actual holiday and picked up the tiles after we returned. We had talked about what we were going to do with them but didn’t do it.

And didn’t do it.

And forgot about it.

A week or two ago, I was cleaning out one (of too many) piles in the office and found the tiles.

Oops.

So I mentioned it to The Kid, and we decided to continue with the plan.

What was the plan again?

I’m not sure that what we settled on is exactly what we had decided originally, but what we made turned out well.

He chose a photo of himself with each daddy; I had them printed.

Using some craft foamy stuff, hot glue, and wide popsicle sticks, we made a picture frame for each photo (photo very much not removable), then added the tile to the top left corner, as per The Kid’s requirements.

We agreed that magnets would be the best way to make them hangable—they’re very imbalanced—but I don’t have any on hand. Those will need to be added later.

Overall, they turned out well, and we’re both happy with how they look. As for the daddies? They haven’t seen them yet, but moreso than in June, they’re sure going to be surprised!

Also, on a tangent: as we were getting all of the materials out and organized, The Kid said, “You know, Mom, we could make a video about making this and post it on YouTube. And then other kids could know how to make a great Father’s Day present.”

We could. But Mama is tired. And other minor resistances.

So when I sat down to write a blog post and was completely uninspired, I asked The Kid, “What should I write about?”

“Mom! You should write about making the Father’s Day presents! It’s a good story!”

And so it came to be.

By request:

The end.

Posted in ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, physical health

You don’t have to be amazing

A meme crossed my path. All caps, lots of colors — the kind of design I might be into…

YOU DID NOT WAKE UP TODAY TO BE AVERAGE

I have a couple of thoughts about that.

1. Math.

2. Maybe you did.

By definition, we can’t all be above average.

If we’re using the math-based definition, typically accepted as the mean, we can’t all be higher than it because then, by definition, it would be raised.

If we’re using the definition that makes “average” somewhat synonymous with “normal” or “usual,” we still can’t all better or different than that. If we’re all different than normal, then the definition of normal changes.

And maybe you did wake up today to be average. Maybe life has been terrible and to have a typical-for-other-people day would be amazing. Maybe so many out of the ordinary things—good or bad—have been happening that you’re ready for calm. Maybe for any one of a zillion reasons, finding a groove and hanging out in it for a while would be lovely.

I know a lot of people who would love to hang out in a comfortable groove for a while.

We don’t have to be The Best Ever at everything we do. Within the bounds of lots of asterisks (that I’m not going to ramble about today), doing a good but not amazing job at work is good enough. Being a good but not as good as you feel like maybe other parents are parent is good enough. Preparing decent food for yourself and whoever else you’re feeding is good enough.

Get some exercise. It doesn’t have to be hard core. Eat healthy food. You’ll feel better. Get enough sleep. Or as close as you can get. (There are so many hurdles, some of which we can’t control.) Love your people. Accept that sometimes, life isn’t going to permit all of those things to happen every day.

And when you have energy or drive to do more, do it. Don’t let other people steal your energy. If you want to spend time creating something beautiful or different or silly or useful or just plain amazing, do it, and don’t let the haters tell you that’s not how you should spend your time. (I hate the “too much free time” means of dismissing people.)

But waking up to be better than average every day? That’s stressful. Let that shit go, even if it’s in all caps and lots of colors.