Posted in connections, just a quote, mental health, socializing, vulnerability

Congruity

A quote crossed my path. It ties into my thoughts a few weeks ago about hidden sides of people, though that train of thought was more about context.

This one is more personal. Intimate.

“There’s the you that you present to the world, and then there’s, you know, of course the real one and, if you’re lucky, there’s not a huge difference between those two people.”
-David Sedaris

I’m not sure how much is luck and how much is by design. (I have thoughts about that, but they’re not coherent so I’ll keep them to myself for now.) But I agree that congruity makes for a generally happier existence … unless you’re a jerk.

Posted in cancer, connections, differences, ebb & flow, mindset, socializing, thoughtfulness, tips, vulnerability

Talking to people going through hard things

A friend’s father-in-law is in his final hours. I would not text her right now to complain about … anything.

Thinking about that led me to realize that perhaps people get situations confused. Or just aren’t able to find out what direction to go in other difficult situations.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was inpatient at the hospital, had a seemingly endless string of tests and procedures, one of which landed me in ICU overnight, and was somewhat overwhelmed. But within two weeks, I was home.

Despite being home, cancer treatment often lasts a long time. I was admitted to the hospital in mid-May and finished treatments in mid-January. I’ve known too many people who tally up years of treatment.

Once the initial storm settled, socializing was really important, because I couldn’t do most of the other things I was accustomed to doing.

A relative had gotten a flat tire, and started a conversation with, “Well, I know this is nothing compared to what you’re going through, but …”

And no, it’s not, but in real life, that doesn’t matter. I mean, I wouldn’t complain about what my spouse made for dinner last night to someone who was food insecure, but the people in my social circle are, for the most part, all secure in food, housing, and other basic needs. (Except healthcare. Welcome to America.)

OK, I got off on a tangent there, but what I’m saying is—the majority of my people share similar annoyances, with the occasional life-shaking event.

Is the life-shaking event finite? A death, the onset of serious illness or injury, loss of a job, for example?

If yes, they’re not in a good place for you to bug them with minutiae. (“I was just diagnosed with cancer.” “OMG really? Can you believe I got a flat on my way to work today?”) Choose another friend for that.

If their life-shaking event is chronic (whether permanent or temporary) and the initial blow has passed, then you need to know, in response to a story about the flat you got on the way to work, would they say:

Must be nice to be able to go to work/have a car to get a flat/etc.

or

Oh man! That sucks! Why did it take AAA so long to get there?

And base your decision on that.

If you don’t know, ask.

“Hey, I know you’re going through xyz shitty thing right now, and I wasn’t sure if you wanted to talk about that, if you were looking for conversation just to be kind of light, or if you were looking for just normal conversation.”

Or something like that.

Then people who really need you just to be there and hang out have you there and hanging out (um, maybe not literally), and people who really don’t want to hear about your shit won’t be offended by your insensitivity.

Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness

Our part in creating sustainability

I hate planned obsolescence.

I hate cheap shit.

I hate the “everything disposable” mindset.

I hate WalMart and the Dollar Store.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to pay tons of money for everything, necessarily, but we need to find a way back to well-made things that can be kept for a long time, repaired, upgraded, etc.

It’s better to pay more for a thing up front that you can keep for a long time than to pay half as much that you’re going to need four of in the same time frame.

(And in the case of handheld technology, it’s neither cheap nor long-lasting.)

In order to do this, we need to

1- Buy less stuff. Especially with average incomes as they are and cost of living expenses continuously on the rise, buying higher-quality but more expensive stuff isn’t going to work at the same volume.

2- Be OK with stuff not being the newest. This example pops into mind. When I was a kid, we had an Atari. It was awesome. And then Nintendo came out, and we wanted one of those. We didn’t get one, because we already had a gaming system. So sometimes friends came over and we played Atari, and sometimes we went to their house and played Nintendo.

3- Share. People seem to do this more out of economic necessity, but there are lots of things that we don’t all need to own our own. We bought a giant umbrella thinger when The Kid was doing track last year. A friend’s daughter was doing swim over the summer. Instead of buying an umbrella, they borrowed ours. It worked perfectly. Unless we needed it at the same time, there’s no reason for us both to own one. Less money outgoing. Less storage space. Less trash later. True for many occasional-use things.

Can we stop going to the Dollar Store and buying lots of junk because we can and it’s cheap? Can we stop buying clothes that we’ll only wear for one season? (Kids excepted, because they grow…)

It’s a big shift. But it will help us mentally (less stuff = less stress about stuff—spoken from a place of privilege), it will help us economically, it will help us environmentally. It will help built community (for sharing, and for playing each other’s games). And maybe it’ll bring work back here from overseas.

You in?

Posted in connections, differences, socializing

The hidden side of … everyone

Saturday last weekend, I was at a funeral for the husband of a coworker.

I know this coworker strictly at work. We’ve never talked about life outside the building; we’re not connected through any social media.

During the service, they played a slideshow, trying to capture this man’s life. (Can you ever really capture it?) They were married a long time, so, as expected, she was in quite a few of the photos.

 It was neat to see her “other life,” to see a little bit of who she is when she’s not at work. (Or who she is when she’s at work, because it’s all different sides of the same person…)

A few times, I’ve shared a “share a random fact about yourself” thing on Facebook, and I’ve learned things about my friends that I didn’t know. Not just the people who I don’t really know anyway, but people who I’m friends with offline, talk to often, etc. Some of them were surprising.

I’m sure there are things about me that people would be surprised to learn. I don’t know what those things are, because they’re really more about other people’s perception of me. (Just like my surprise was based on my perception.)

But this “hidden side” — sometimes hidden intentionally, sometimes legitimately just never came up — is what is so interesting about hearing people’s stories. Even people who I’ve known a long time. There are always more interesting things lurking. Often things that the owners don’t see as interesting. It’s just a matter of finding them. Which I’m not at all good at. But I often like listening, so there’s that. Now just to get better at asking the right questions…

Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, motivation, podcasts

Old dogs, new tricks, and endless possibilities

Schools in this area have an evacuation site. If, for whatever reason the whole school needed to be evacuated, where would we all go?

At my first job in Arizona, the steak house was mentioned.

New to the local area and vegetarian, I couldn’t think of any steak houses nearby … and also thought that was an odd place for a fairly large elementary school to evacuate to. We’re definitely bigger than their maximum capacity.

Turns out, it’s a Mormon thing. (Based on my Wikipedia research before writing this, she was incorrect to call it a stake house, but perhaps the locals differ from Wikipedia in their vernacular.)

The area has a large Mormon population. Nowhere I’d lived up to that point had much if any Mormon population, so these words/buildings/customs were unfamiliar to me.

My brain making connections the way it does, when I thought of this story, it reminded me that on Freakonomics Radio a few months ago, they were talking about trying new things:

…basically if you are not listening to a certain style of music by the time you’re 28 or so, 95 percent chance you’re never going to. By age 35, if you’re not eating sushi, 95 percent chance you never will. In other words, these windows of openness to novelty close.

Honestly … I think we can do better. Clearly, we need to be nudged … or pushed … or dragged against our will sometimes, but we can do it!

35? 28?! That’s less than half of a life trying all sorts of things and more than half a life with the same old same old. No wonder so many old people are cranky.

Seriously. If we’re open to new things, our lives will be richer, our brains will be healthier, and we have a much better chance at forward progress (in our personal lives, in our communities, in our country, in the world).

In the last 10 to 15 years, I’ve tried a lot of new foods and tons of old foods in new combinations. I’ve learned a lot of new stuff. Tried new activities. Befriended new people.

That said, I’m quite happy much of the time to eat the same stuff, read the same stuff, talk to the same people, and so on. Really, I could just stay home a lot of the time and be perfectly content.

How do I get into new stuff?

Well … every now and then, it’s something that I’ve been interested in for a while but never made time for (because you can’t do it all at once) — like photography.

Even more rarely, it’s something that creeps into my life in such a way that I don’t even remember how it got there, and then it grows and I feed it and it grows and I feed it… — like triathlon (currently defunct) and healthy living stuff.

Most of the time? Someone else introduces me to it. Most of the music I listen to; all “ethnic” food that isn’t Italian, Polish, or American Chinese; running; rock climbing; camping; a trove of details about dinosaurs, Saturn V, and Minecraft. These are all things that I would not have come into on my own — someone else introduced me to them.

And my life is richer for it.

Though I would be OK without Minecraft.

If you know my eating habits, you know some of my favorite restaurants are Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mediterranean. I never ate any of these before I moved to Arizona. (Thank you to the people who introduced me to these amazing cuisines!)

What have you done or eaten or listened to or read or watched lately that was new? (And what do you love that you can share with me that might be new to me?)