Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Black lives matter, toothpaste, shaving cream

This post passed through my Facebook memories and it helped me to synthesize some of what’s going on. Maybe it will help you, too.

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This activity has circulated for a while in parenting and teaching circles in the hope of teaching children to understand the power of words.

In case you can’t read the text on the photo: You give kids shaving cream or toothpaste or something similar and ask them to squeeze it all out; they delight in this. Then you ask them to put it back in the container. Obviously, this is fruitless. The moral of the story is: things you say can’t be taken back. Once they’re out, they’re out.

I saw this and I thought … this is part of why so many white people dig in their heels about racism.*

Acknowledging we are wrong brings to mind years (decades?) of tubes of toothpaste and cans of shaving cream in our wake. All the damage, all the hurts that we were/are (potentially inadvertently) responsible for. We see all of that, collectively in one messy pile, and we feel like a horrible human being.

Nobody likes to feel like a horrible human being, so we don’t acknowledge that messy pile, and we continue to hurt those around us in order to protect ourselves.

To paraphrase Maya Angelou: when you know better, do better.

That messy pile of jokes and slurs and negative assumptions and offhand comments and staying silent? You own that, regardless of where and when you pivot. You own that whether you acknowledge owning it or not. Those around you know you own it, whether you acknowledge it or not.

You can say, “I didn’t know. And I feel stupid and ashamed for not knowing. Now I know. Now I will do better.”

Also know that even in the process of doing better, you’ll still mess up. Because we all mess up, because we’re human. Anyone who tells you that they’ve never spoken or acted in a way that was demeaning to a minority either lacks self awareness or is lying (or both). And also because this stuff is baked in to our culture. Fish not knowing what water is and all that.

When someone tells you their story, listen. To the best of your ability, put aside your own self-defense and listen. If you don’t believe them, if you’re trying to rationalize the other side, pause for a moment and ask yourself: what if what they are saying is true? What about that possibility makes it so uncomfortable that you’re trying to poke holes in it?

We can rant about the system. (And agreed — the system desperately needs an overhaul.) But… we ARE the system. Know better. Do better.

As an addendum to that: support people who are trying to change. Support people who are doing better because they learning. Too often, someone who had a different way of looking at things 5 or 20 or 50 years ago is vilified for flip flopping or for “well, you used to ___.” Maybe they didn’t know then, but they know now. They were part of the problem, realized it, and want to be part of the solution. Let them become part of the solution!

*Applicable to any power differential.

Posted in connections, exercise, food, mindset, motivation

Keep sharing! Ignore the haters!

There are quite a few memes circulating, as usual, that no one cares about your bread/run/anything they’re not doing.

I assume the person posting doesn’t care about them*, but that’s not generalize-able to “no one” or “everyone.”

I know personally half a dozen people who have made recipes in the last month that a friend shared on social media.

We made scones a week or so ago. A friend had posted pictures and in the comments, there were lots of recipes shared. I picked one of those recipes. We made scones. I posted pics and shared the recipe. The other day, a friend posted pics of scones they made from the recipe I shared. The next day, another friend posted pics of scones they made.

This doesn’t even count the people who see and make the recipes but don’t post about it.

I’ve had four people I can think of tell me that they were inspired to exercise in some way because of something I shared about me or us exercising. (Joined the run series, decided to go for a walk, did some pushups, whatever.)

So yeah. Keep posting. You never know who you’re going to inspire to do the same.

*I had a big tangent to this thought and will share it with you tomorrow.

Posted in hope, know better do better, mindset, motivation, podcasts, tips

Yes! I’ll do that! … Later…

Procrastination has showed up in several podcasts in the last few weeks.

The content has conflicted in some ways, but I took some bits from them and plan to use them. (Always: take what you can use and leave the rest.) These things are so obvious and fall into place so easily that I can’t believe I didn’t sleuth them out already. Maybe you have?

The biggest takeaway I had was that procrastination is avoiding a feeling, not a task. Completely resonates.

So I don’t actually put off phone calls because I don’t like phone calls—I’m avoiding feeling intrusive or frustrated or stupid (for a variety of reasons), depending on the call.

And I’m not avoiding writing the book because I don’t like writing (which I already knew!)—I’m avoiding putting it out there when it’s done.

And on and on.

Sometimes, I’m exceptionally productive when avoiding a specific task. The best way to get a daily to-do list done is to put one thing on it that I really don’t want to do. Everything else magically gets done…

One of the episodes talked about the lack of immediate gratification, and that would be true on long-term tasks—or maybe quick tasks with long-term payoff—but it doesn’t fly with “I need to make a phone call.”

They also talked about making yourself accountable to other people, but I have witnessed countless times (and so have you, I’m sure) that often, that doesn’t work. You disappear from view of your accountability partner. Or you tell them you decided not to pursue the thing any more. You eat the money you paid for your accountability group. Or use some other means of escaping the accountability.

Brené Brown’s work ties into this. Shaming yourself for something you have shame about in the first place doesn’t help the problem and does not inspire change or productivity. (Don’t shame yourself. Don’t shame your kids. Don’t shame your spouse. Don’t shame your colleagues. Don’t shame anyone. It. Doesn’t. Work.)

So.

For long-term projects where fear of failure or rejection—often manifesting as perfectionism—are the roadblocks, there’s a plan. Let me recount what they suggested in the specific example in the podcast, and you can take it and adapt it.

The procrastinator was not making the (very short) videos she needed to make for an app she was looking to create. (The app already existed; it just needed content.) By asking her when during the day she would ideally work on this, she was assigned a daily 45-minute block just for making the videos. The first 15 minutes was planning. After that, she would record that day’s video until either time ran out or she had one she was happy with. If time ran out, she would just choose the one she liked best of what she had created and move on.

This creates space to work on it each day, but more than that, it removed much of the paralysis by perfectionism. Just make videos. It doesn’t matter yet if they’re good. Just make them. They’ll get better as you go.

Just write. Just draw. Just practice. Just record. Refine later. For now, just do it.

Of course, not everyone’s schedule allows space to be created so neatly. But most of us can find time on a regular-ish basis to work on a long-term project. (If we have a long-term project we want to do.)

How to make the phone calls?

Create a system where some highly desirable thing happens only when the dreaded thing happens. Perhaps a guilty pleasure type of thing. All of the examples that I’ve read/heard of this use watching movies or TV as the positive—”I can only watch these shows when I’m at the gym;” “I can only watch these movies when I do these unpleasant but long-term necessary health-related tasks”—but I’m sure that if that’s not your bag (like me), you can find something else.

As a general rule, I don’t like food/drink to be reward, but if it’s an infrequent or short-term enough thing, then it might be okay. It’s just … easy to set the stage to create or exacerbate other problems.

Links to the podcasts:

Work Life with Adam Grant

How To with Charles Duhigg (This is the current episode as of when I’m writing. “Procrastination” is in the title if you’re looking for it at a later time)

Armchair Expert

Braincast (This was my least favorite of the four I’ve linked—it’s the only episode I’ve listened to from this guy, and I’m not inclined to make room for more.)

Posted in connections, ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, parenting

The kid way to process life

Kids work through stress and unfamiliar situations through play. (This is why play therapy is very effective with littles.)

The last play date we had (two weeks ago?), the kids were playing “corona zombies.”

Since play dates have ended, The Kid was playing a robber/spy game by himself where he had to steal and avoid a virus. (I don’t know how to do both simultaneously, but it’s his game. Not my place to “fix” it.)

He jumps on the trampoline A LOT (thank goodness that became part of the family before all this started!). The Climbing Daddy has a spiky ball for rolling underfoot. (Intentionally. Ideally while seated.) The Kid puts it on the trampoline and tries to bounce it off. It’s the virus (because they look similar) and he’s trying to get rid of it.

This is normal. This is healthy. This is how kids process stuff.

This is also informative.

If you’re seeing and hearing stuff like this come up in play, let them play it out. Of course you can have a conversation about it, but please don’t stifle the play.

(Likewise, if you hear them playing out other real-life-ish scenarios that raise red flags, be gentle, but have a conversation.)

As far as life without playdates?

He’s been using Marco Polo* to talk to friends and has had a few virtual playdates via FaceTime. I got tipped off that Battleship and Guess Who can both be played via video chat without adaptation, and they’ve enjoyed playing.

*I didn’t know much about this app until a week or two ago, but it’s been a lot of fun, for me and the kids.

We’ve made drawing and typing and foreign language learning part of our daily routine. He needs some structure and routine, and I don’t want all schoolwork. These are things he’s enjoying (so far) and are good for him and he doesn’t do in school.

Finally, one of my principals shared this with us.

choose connection

 

Deep breath. You can do this.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, mindset

Camping and quitting

Half a year ago, we made plans to go camping in Joshua Tree National Park over spring break. Plans rounded out with two other families in three sites side-by-side.

The Climbing Daddy, The Kid, and I have camped at Jumbo Rocks campground before, and the site we happened to be in had some great scrambling immediately behind us. So we reserved that one and one to either side (56, 57, 58, if you’re wanting to check it out).

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We learned last week that rain was in the forecast, but we had the sites already reserved and figured if rain actually happened—we are desert-dwellers—we’d make the best of it.

We set up shop on Sunday, explored a little, ate dinner, enjoyed being with fun people in a beautiful place.

Monday morning we had a slow breakfast and clouds slowly rolled in. Not ominous, but not inspiring hope.

We took a hike, climbed on some rocks, found a nice spot to site and have lunch, explored some more. Kids had a great time.

Back at camp, the rangers came by and let us know it was expected to start raining around 11 that night.

A couple of the guys went into town for forgotten items and said that in their travels, they felt the air change, saw the clouds become ominous, agreed that we weren’t getting out of this dry.

We had dinner and decided we were going to pack into the cars everything that we didn’t specifically need to sleep.

On a short tangent, meals with three families, when we didn’t coordinate ahead of time, were so much fun. We all shared everything and ended up with a hodgepodge of tastiness that we wouldn’t have had on our own. Yum!

Back to the story.

We also realized that at least two of us had never had our tents in the rain and didn’t know if our rain flies were useful.

Finally, I thought … this is dumb. Why are we packing up everything except tents and sleeping bags in hopes that we’re not up at 2 a.m. wet from the rain? And without anywhere to cook (if it were still to be raining the next day)? Let’s just go into town and stay at a hotel.

Part of me felt stupid for suggesting this plan. Was I just being “soft” because I’m not a die-hard camper? Or because the first night had been unexpectedly cold?

The other part of me knew that my plan was grounded in reasonable real-life. We weren’t trapped in the wilderness—we were on a spring break trip to a national park with three kids under 10 and one barely older.

After many small conversations, adults in attendance agreed this was a good plan. We left the tents (to see if they could take the rain) and went into town.

One of the littles fell asleep on the way. Two others played chess until they fell asleep. The older played on his iPad for a while.

Adults drank beer and played Cards Against Humanity.

We were all warm and dry.

And it rained. Not at 11, but the next morning, the ground was soaked and puddles were abundant. In our tent? Puddles.

Whether the decision was solid going into it, it was retroactively justified.

I was reminded of something I’ve known for a long time and still forget from time to time — it’s not always bad to quit.