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 books, differences, education, mindset, parenting

Reading is reading!

The Kid is learning to read. I mean, he’s in the years-long process of learning to read.

He loves to read.

Part of that is that he reads things that are interesting to him. It doesn’t have to be books. It doesn’t have to be at his reading level. Whatever is interesting.

Sometimes, he likes to read his old picture books. (The words in those are not always easy to read, since they’re generally intended to be read out loud by a competent reader. Even when they are easy, he enjoys them.

Sometimes, he reads LEGO magazines.

Sometimes, he reads chapter books.

Right now, he’s reading a Minecraft graphic novel. I believe he’s read it in its entirety three times since acquiring it less than a week ago.

Reading is reading. It’s all practice. It’s all building skills, building habits, nurturing a love of reading.

I remember overhearing a conversation years ago between two moms. One’s son was only interested in reading comic books. She forced him to read “real books” before he was allowed to read comic books. They weren’t school-assigned; she just didn’t think comic books “counted” as reading.

There are words, sentences. There’s a story. There are characters.

It counts. It all counts.

Reading is reading.

Posted in differences, mindset

Basic job skills

I was in the ER last night (I’m OK—no worries). The two nurses who most often attended me were very personable and seemed to know what they were doing.

Except they sucked at putting in IVs.

Now, I know my veins are small. Through my cancer journey, I had ample opportunities for nurses and techs to try and fail to put in an IV.

But I was well-hydrated and I haven’t had a needle stick in years (so there aren’t any spots blown out).

First nurse tried, dug around a bit (OUCH), failed.

Second nurse used ultrasound, which was kind of cool, but it still hurt more than it should have and continued to bounce between very uncomfortable and hurts the entire time it was in.

I would think that, maybe aside from EMTs (though I don’t know for sure) that the ER most often needs IVs placed in a hurry. Which means all the people working there should be better than average at this skill.

Are my expectations unreasonable? (Perhaps my ignorance leads me to draw poor conclusions.)

Teachers should be able to explain things in a variety of ways and troubleshoot learning pitfalls.

Anyone who works with the public should be personable.

Anyone with a phone job should have good diction. (I’m not only talking about thick accents.)

And ER nurses should be able to install IVs well.

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, differences, ebb & flow, meandering

The silly helpfulness of fortune cookies

The best fortune I ever got out of a cookie was over 30 years ago, and while I didn’t keep it, I remember it.

“Today is a good day to go moose hunting with a belly dancer.”

I haven’t received any that were nearly as entertaining in the intervening decades, though some came close when we added the requisite “in bed” at the end.

My brain seems to see things a little bit differently than many people. (I’m pretty sure this was part of my demise in marketing/advertising.) Besides my own experience (which, admittedly, is tainted with self-consciousness), over time, I’ve had a small steady stream of people, usually friends, mention it.

Typically, it’s labeled unique.

Sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse—like anything, really.

Anyway, most of the time, this isn’t on my radar at all. I go through life thinking what I’m thinking and seeing things as I see them, just like anyone else.

But sometimes, I feel unheard, or misunderstood, or dismissed. I feel significantly different.

Enter fortune cookies.

The photo is a small section of the cork board by my desk at home.

The top two fortunes (“Your observations are useful to others” and “Your candid approach is refreshing”) are helpful on days when I’m not feeling particularly useful or refreshing.

I don’t just see them and automatically change gears, but it is a reminder to step out of the present moment and find times when these things were true. Or that my observations are useful, they’re just not being used.

And the bottom one? “Your efforts will result in much profit.” Might as well go with it. Profit can mean a lot of things, and I’m happy to take tangible or intangible rewards.

So yeah. Even though fortune cookies were invented in San Francisco, they’re still sometimes fun and sometimes useful.