Posted in mindset, motivation


Selfies are given a bad rap. As with most reputations, there’s some legitimacy in there, and also as with most reputations, the legitimacy is overgeneralized.

Some selfies are from single parents who have no one else to take photos of them much of the time. If they want a picture together with their kid, they have to take it themselves.

Partnered parents whose partners are not inclined to pick up the phone and snap a photo—that’s a weird phrase—have a similar problem. They have someone they could ask to take a picture, if the someone is around and amenable.

Some selfies are simply pride or excitement in how one is looking in the moment. New haircut, good-looking outfit, fun jewelry, silliness for a group event (school, work, whatever), new glasses. Why not show it off?

All of the trans people I know shared selfies, either during their transition or once they felt safe enough to do so. This ties in to the “pride or excitement” piece above, but I think it deserves its own mention because it’s much higher stakes.

And of course, selfies are taken to try to make it look like life is amazing when it’s not.

I know a lot of people are struggling (I am certainly one of those people sometimes) and post stories or photos or videos of “wins”—things that are going well, or are funny, or any other positive attribute. No indication anywhere that life is hard. It helps highlight the good.

(The problem with that, of course, is that no one can help if no one knows there’s an issue. But that’s another topic for another day.)

I don’t consider that Fakebooking. Sometimes the validation you get from sharing a bit of happiness gets you through the next hour. Sometimes you want a space where you can ignore the mess of real life and just live in the good stuff. Whatever the reason, it happens, and it makes sense to me.

People who take pictures in their yard to make it look like they’re at the beach? Or who otherwise straight up lie about where they are or what they’re doing? I don’t have a lot of patience for that. But don’t tear down all selfies because of those few.

Posted in audience participation, know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness

I need a word

One of my life mantras comes from Maya Angelou: 

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.

We apply this easily to many skill sets: math, reading, various arts, physical skills, and so on. 

We don’t apply it as well to our beliefs and how we interact with the world. I am trying to keep that piece close to the foreground in my mind so I can, in that sense, do better. 

I have lived a life of privilege in many ways, being middle class, white, cisgendered, able-bodied. 

I have also lived life as a female, and I’m enormously frustrated when a man tells me that something that I experience regularly doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.

So I try to listen, understand, and adjust when people whose experience is different than mine talk to me about a slice of their life that is unfamiliar to me.

Words are important. People who are not damaged by them argue their insignificance, which always struck me kind of funny. If it’s so insignificant, why can’t you choose another word?

So when a Native American friend posted an article on Facebook about the word tribe, I read it, I thought about it, I looked up other sources and gained more perspective.

In my poor summary, it’s problematic in describing groups of people perceived to be primitive, including both Native and African tribes. But it’s also problematic because the concept of tribe in the sense we colloquially use it was stripped of both Natives and Africans for White people’s purposes, and while that might have started a long time ago, we haven’t fixed it yet.

It’s not a word I’ve used frequently, so it didn’t take a lot of effort to remove it from my working vocabulary. But I’ve wanted it a few times in my writing and my invitations, and I haven’t found a good synonym.

I need a word to reference a group of like-minded people who stick together.

“Family” has the stickiness but there’s an element of exclusivity by natural causes. There’s also a tremendously wide range of feelings elicited by the concept of family, tapping ideally into feelings of love and safety, but often into the opposite. Or into the sadness of infertility. Or of loss through divorce or death. 

“Community” feels sterile to me. Perhaps I’ve not had the experience necessary for that to have the bonding element that I’m looking for.

“Band,” the place I grew up and lived and loved for so many years, comes the closest, but I also know that’s a feeling exclusive to the people who’ve experienced it. (And I’m sure, like family and community, there are people whose experience doesn’t connect “band” with goodness.)

I had a conversation about this with a few friends the other day, and in the case of my blog and mailing list (where I currently invite people to “join the family” for lack of something better), we had a very engaging and sometimes hilarious brainstorm involving both animal group names and geometry. (My blog is called “Heat’s Tangent City” because of the many directions my ideas flow from their starting point. And obstinacy was my favorite animal group name and maybe fitting but perhaps not ideal for branding.)

On either level—specific-to-me or more general—what’s a good word to use instead of tribe?

I thought of Heat’s Herd, because “Heat Herd” was my nickname before the Herd was dropped and I became plain old Heat. Two arguments against: 1- not a lot of people know that; 2- I don’t like the ownership of the apostrophe-s. While I am the connecting point of the people in my herd, the ownership thing feels … slimy? I don’t have a good explanation as to why; in this moment, I don’t need one. The feeling is enough.

So. What word do you use instead of tribe? (Or what word will you use going forward, if you’ve not thought about it before?)

Posted in about me, motivation, vulnerability

Ideal Heat vs. Real Heat

There are two Heats. (I suspect there are two of you, too.)

There’s Ideal Heat, the one that does All The Things. The one that followed through on learning to crochet, or had the patience and attention span to sew. She makes some of her own clothes and when it’s cold and she needs an ear warmer, she just whips one up. She’s diligent about learning Spanish (I’d be fluent by now…), has regularly used the calligraphy kit she got for Christmas a couple of years ago. A project started is a project finished.

There’s Real Heat, the one who doesn’t have the attention span to get through the rough beginnings of fabric arts and who doesn’t do them often enough to remember much from one session to the next, making the learning curve even rougher. She has a lot of interests and not enough time to pursue them all, but also wants to have some skills without earning them. 

Real Heat does do plenty. This is not disparaging her at all. But she can’t do it all. And some of the things she thinks she wants to do, she doesn’t really want to do—she wants to want to.

The reason this distinction is important is because it allows me to unload physical and metaphorical baggage. 

All the fabric and patterns from projects I wanted to do but in real life was not actually going to complete? I gave them away to a friend who sews like crazy. Maybe she used them and maybe she paid them forward—don’t know and doesn’t matter. They’re not taking up space in my house any more.

And they’re not taking up space in the back of my mind any more. I am free from the Weight of Unfinished Projects. At least those unfinished projects.

Yarn and crochet hook? Crafting stuff? Art supplies? Gone gone gone.

Not everything needs to be used daily or even regularly. I go in fits and spurts playing my ukulele. It’s not an unfinished project. It’s something I like to do from time to time. The ukulele makes the cut.

Getting rid of the stuff that belongs to Ideal Heat lets Real Heat have less clutter in the house and in the brain, so there’s more room for what she’s actually going to dig into.

Posted in about me, connections, gratitude, mental health, mindset, vulnerability

Inspiration, hope, and being on display

For a few years now, I’ve received “Notes from the Universe” in my email.

Sometimes I read them and hit delete and that’s that.

Sometimes I read them and smile and hit delete and that’s that.

Sometimes I read them and they hit me just the right way. Or the wrong way. Or both.

Here’s an example:

Do you know what you’ve created, Heat?
No, besides an intergalactically known saunter named after you.
Inspiration, in the eyes that have watched you. Hope, in the minds that have admired you. And love, in the hearts that have known you.
Not bad, kiddo, not bad at all –
The Universe

There are days when reading this makes me happy. Inspiration and hope are the best I have to offer, and when people have been changed for the better because of their interactions with me, it feels fantastic. This has happened in teaching, in health coaching, in blogging, in “overdisclosing” about personal struggles.

There are other days when I’d rather just have a few people close by than admirers from afar and that paragraph cultivates loneliness, or feeling like a zoo animal to be watched (with a variety of reactions) but not interacted with.

An intergalactically-known saunter is kind of fun, though.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 31Jan21

We have had some really amazing sunsets.

I went to cook dinner one night, saw this out the window, and put dinner on hold. I don’t have a great view from the yard, but it was good enough. Aside from cropping, the lead photo is the only one that’s edited.

I had planned to dabble in a little Photoshop this weekend. I have a few tutorials bookmarked and thought I’d try at least one.

It didn’t work out.

The tutorials are fine—probably. All the Photoshopping I’ve done so far has been messing around, guess and check, which is fine, but it means that I don’t know what anything is.

The tutorials assume that the user knows basic Photoshop vocabulary, and while I know a few things, I don’t know enough.

So I need to back up and learn basic-er basics before moving forward, which is both reasonable and annoying.