Posted in differences, know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

It’s not just about the weather

We have a serious game of one-up-manship going on. It’s everywhere and completely lacks empathy.

An easy example, one that likely isn’t triggering to most people, is weather.

Right now, Texas is just starting to thaw a bit. People went for days without electricity and/or running water. It’s killing people. Homes are flooding. Drinking water is scarce. Many foods are in short supply. 

People from other parts of the country where snow is common are smack talking.

This isn’t to say that the overwhelming response is “So? We got way more snow than that this weekend,” but that the response is big enough to be noticeable is troubling.

It’s not the same. Can we agree it’s not the same?

If we can’t show empathy about things that truly are not about us at all (except maybe to say that we’re tougher because we regularly live through what we believe you’re complaining about?), how can we have compassion for people in situations that actually push our buttons?

We need to do better. Not just about the weather.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 21Feb21

This week, I’ve taken photos that I previously shot and messed with them in Photoshop.

Some were of people who wish not to be shared (which I respect), but I was pretty excited that I was able to cut out the background and move a person with a good-looking end result.

I got an Apple pencil for Christmas, and doing the fine detail work on taking out the background is the perfect combination of “requires focus” and “doesn’t require brainpower.” It was a great break from writing.

I enjoy messing with the color filters and then routinely can’t decide which result I like best. (Either that, or I don’t like any of them.) So I take them and collage them in different ways. I don’t think collage is a verb. Or it wasn’t, until just now.

Here’s a bit of what I came up with in those meanderings.

Posted in audience participation, connections, socializing, thoughtfulness

Pleasant people plus one

I was in a writing group. We were generally friendly, offered feedback to each other on our work with both give and take on “negative” feedback. (So grateful for that. Can’t get better without constructive criticism, and we, culturally, are extremely averse to it.)

One person in the group was extremely unpleasant. Would talk much longer than anyone wanted to listen, offered advice on things people didn’t want or need advice for. (In my “welcome to the group, tell us about yourself” bit, I mentioned I was a band teacher and was doing bucket drumming with my classes. Upon hearing this—after being acquainted for less than five minutes—he offered me some suggestions for how I could do band instead because it’s really important for the kids to play their instruments. He was not a teacher, not an instrumentalist, had no children, and my classes loved playing the buckets.)

I talked to the facilitator about his abrasiveness, and she agreed that he was difficult and some people had left the group because of him but *shrug*

A similar thing is happening in a different group I’m part of now.

In talking to a friend about the current situation, she told me a parallel story.

Why do we let these people destroy what would be pleasant, productive communities? How many opportunities to connect have we missed out on because one person ruined it for everyone?

And how do we fix it?

“Use your words” comes to mind, but how do you tell someone that they’re socially atrocious? If someone can finesse and deliver the message and the recipient doesn’t reject it, how do they socialize after receiving it without being self-conscious all the time?

There’s a difference between self-conscious and self-aware, and I’m not sure that replacing the vacuum of neither with self-consciousness is great. And I’m also not sure it would solve the problem anyway.

Kick them out? Make it unpleasant for them so they quit? None of these feels good to me, but I’m not sure there’s a solution that does feel good to me…

Have you had a situation like this that was successfully resolved? (For whatever “successfully” means to you?)

Posted in mindset

TV, time, and attention

“Well, I don’t watch that much TV.”

Defensiveness about television habits is in the top three things people think I’m judging them for because my habits are different. (Eating and alcohol consumption are the other two. Pandemic has relieved most people’s defensiveness about all three.)

I don’t watch TV.

It’s a simple statement of fact, not one of superiority or judgment. (I have plenty of other ways to regret spending time.) 

As a child, I watched Saturday morning cartoons and prime time sitcoms and plenty of Nickelodeon. We had a television as the focal point in the living room. My mom would watch the news on a small black and white TV on the corner of the counter in the kitchen while making dinner. And my parents had a TV in their bedroom.

My experience was that this was fairly typical.

In junior high, I was in a litany of extra-curricular activities; in high school, I added to that with full course loads and honors and AP classes.

There was no time for TV.

None of my college dorm roommates brought TVs and while I’d hang out in other’s rooms for the current episode of South Park from time to time, TV just wasn’t part of my daily life.

When I got my own place, I remained TV-free and wasn’t really interested in watching much by then. It frustrated me to go to friends’ houses to visit, only to have them sit and watch TV the whole time. (The competition with screens for attention long preceded smart phones.) If we had gotten together to watch something, that’s one thing, but just because they couldn’t turn it off?

I did buy an old TV once, when I decided to buy an Atari. Even if I’d wanted to watch something on it, I couldn’t have.

Twice, I’ve married into a TV. 

Currently, our TV isn’t in the living room, can’t be the focal point of our most-used space. While we’ve squeezed four people in to the little room where the TV is for rocket launches and other exciting events, most of the time, TV is just one or two of us, and there’s plenty of room.

Because this is just normal for me and has been for so long, I forget sometimes that it’s different for other people.

The Climbing Daddy and I went to the tiny house village at the Home and Garden Show a year or two ago. While we were in one that was fully outfitted and under 400 square feet, a woman nearby (ha! that’s anyone inside!) complained that there was only one TV.

At the beginning of shelter in place, we watched the first season of LEGO Masters as a family, as well as maybe half a dozen episodes of Chopped, Jr.

Other than that, the pattern of my life continues: there are too many other things to do. No time for TV.

Posted in mindset

My photography journey 14Feb21

The sunsets here the last few weeks have been even better than usual, and they’re usually very nice.

I live in a fairly typical suburban neighborhood, which means there are lots of obstacles to taking great sunset (or sunrise) photos. It’s not terribly far to hiking trails, though, so one day last week, we took a field trip to South Mountain.

The sunset did not disappoint.

For better or worse, these are all unedited.

I played around with Photoshop a little and came out with this, which is kinda fun: