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

LISTEN—it’s about all of us

It doesn’t feel right to prattle on about the usual things today.

The problem of gun violence is overwhelming.

The problem of black people murdered by police is overwhelming.

The problem of racism is overwhelming.

There are solutions or partial solutions to these, and we rationalize our way around them.

How do we connect when there’s little to no willingness for vulnerability? If you show up for the conversation with your army and I show up with mine, the best possible outcome is a stalemate.

“You go first” “No you go first” has the same result.

We—white people—have so much fear of losing.

Community isn’t a zero-sum game. When the “least” among us does better, everyone does better. (I hate the word “least” because of the value judgment. What if our gold standard was compassion? The “least” among us would be some very different people…and it would be better for everyone.)

We’re all people. We all have some similarities in emotions and wants and needs. But not everyone’s life and experience and motivation is the same as yours. (And it’s often not what you judge it to be, either.)

Listen.

Especially when you’re triggered or feel dismissive.

Listen.

It’s not about you.


To my friends of color, to other people of color who I’m not acquainted with… to the mamas…

It’s easy to say “I can’t imagine what you’re going through” and to offer a platitude that way.

I don’t want to offer platitudes. So I took some time, and I sat, and I imagined it, the best that I can.

And I wept.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that this is part of your parenthood. I’m sorry that this is what we offer you. I’m sorry I can’t fix it. I feel like my voice doesn’t matter—because it’s small, because it’s white, because the people who need the lessons aren’t listening—but for whatever audience I have, in a variety of contexts, my voice is all I have.

Posted in about me, connections, gifts, mindset, thoughtfulness

Delight in small things

“Hey, you got a card from someone,” The Climbing Daddy said one day last week when he brought in the mail.

There wasn’t an occasion or anything attached to it—just a card that said, in sum, “I’m glad our paths crossed” from a relatively new friend.

It was lovely. It made my day. I have it standing up at my little workstation in the living room.

Ten days ago, I injured my foot. I thought it might be broken with a small or hairline fracture. X-rays indicated otherwise, but I couldn’t put weight on it for several days, couldn’t walk on it normally for a week, and still have a limited amount of walking I can do before it complains.

A friend lent me a pair of crutches and a kneely scooter so I could get around better. The crutches she had handy but the scooter was a bit of a pain on her end. And she delivered both to my house.

The dog was already here and did not go back in the basket. He wasn’t a fan.

A few weeks ago, a friend gifted me a copy of a book she had told me about that sounded really interesting. (I finished reading it last week! It was as good as I’d expected.)

All of these incidents made my life better.

We underestimate the goodness we can bring to someone else’s life through small gestures. One of those cost nothing but time and gas money. The next cost a card, a stamp and some time. The last cost a paperback book.

Most people are delighted by happy surprises (though many prefer not to have an audience for said surprise). Mailing a card or ordering a book or giving/lending something you don’t need right now (or ever) can be a bright spot in someone’s day.

And also—the other things on my work station?

One was a box that a paper crafting friend of mine made for me for my birthday that I keep there because it’s lovely (the lead photo is a close-up of the front) and sums up where my professional life is right now.

The other is a LEGO minifigure that Rocket Kid made of me with a camera. The hair is more generous than mine, but I love the camera detail. (The other LEGO is a critter he made. We disagreed about whether the two black pieces are antennae or legs.)

All that to say—sometimes, things are not only nice in the moment, but they stick.

Take a bit of time to do something for someone, whether it’s someone in your house or not. (Imagine the surprise someone in your house would have to receive a card in the mail from you!)

Do something not electronic. Make a phone call, send a card or a letter or a small token gift, see if you have something someone else can use. Make someone’s day. It’ll make yours, too.

Who are you going to delight?


If sending a card is a great idea and you don’t already have some on hand, you can find beautiful cards that come with stamps already affixed here.

Posted in mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health

Adaptation, oversimplification, hyperbole, and change

As part of a conversation in episode 42 of No Stupid Questions, Stephen Dubner made mention of people who lived through—and therefore, for a period of time, adapted to—horrible situations, and then shared this hypothesis:

“All of us can adapt to some degree. But with something as simple as removing sugar from your coffee, to me, that’s just a little problem of engineering. You just need to find a way to engineer yourself into the choice … and then you’ll adapt.”

It was a provocative statement, and one he could make easily, as it was Angela Duckworth, his cohost, who had altered her morning coffee. His coffee remained as-is.

After thinking about this a bit, it feels oversimplified and like it’s missing a key component.

The people he referred to who adapted to horrible circumstances, had to. The alternative was death. (Nor were those options necessarily mutually exclusive.) If people were going to survive, they had to make it through one more hour, one more day, one more week of whatever circumstance they were living through. Often, these stories are from war zones, but they’re also from people who have been captured or kidnapped or other outside-my-reality circumstances.

Also, the people who didn’t adapt and gave up aren’t around to tell their side of the story, so perhaps that is underrepresented.

Most people don’t have to live without sugar in their coffee, and as such, “I can’t live without sugar in my coffee!” is accepted hyperbole.

That said, we’re much more adaptable than we give ourselves credit for, in some regards, and too adaptable in others.

It’s been my experience that many of us adapt to poor interpersonal circumstances—whether it be family, toxic friendships, poor work environments—and live with weight on our shoulders as a result.

Likewise, we adapt to feeling sluggish or bloated as a result of diet and exercise choices.

In both of those cases, the way we feel is just normal. A new, undesirable normal. A normal we might not be happy with but fear changing (because change is hard and scary) and so we suffer.

Changing those things is somewhere on a sliding scale of hard, based on experience, mindset, available resources, privilege, and so on. What one person sees as treacherously difficult another might be able to power through fairly quickly. I’m not going to attempt to distill that into more specific thoughts or advice; it’s too complex.

The takeaway instead is that change is possible, and it starts with mindset. Angela had some interesting moments in talking about drinking coffee without sugar instead of her usual teaspoon, and it was all in her head. Her coffee without sugar was never subjectively rated as just as good as her coffee with sugar, but it improved.

It’s possible to get used to having vegetables for half your dinner and to crave vegetables if you go a day or two without enough. The vegetables just need to be as ubiquitous and the junk food. And made to be tasty. There are endless ways to prepare vegetables so they’re tasty; I didn’t know any of them until I became vegetarian. All of that takes effort, until it becomes part of the fabric. Bonus points if you can make positive emotional connections. And you have to want to do it (so many things I want to want to do…). And you have to make the energy to do it (figuring out new food takes more energy than it seems like it should.)

So while there might be external factors to consider, the biggest hurdle is ourselves.

Doesn’t it seem like that’s always the case? Empowering and infuriating.