Save Me San Francisco.

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I’m about halfway through a flight from Boston to San Francisco, a work thing.  First time flying Virgin America and it was a rough start at the terminal.  I left behind a half-drunk cup of coffee–Kerri assured me she wouldn’t waste it–because I couldn’t take it through security anyway, and I’m a neurotic traveler so I just like to know I’m at the gate.  So much for a Starbucks or a Dunkin Donuts or an airport lounge that would have given me an excuse/opportunity to drink a Bloody Mary…instead there was only a Cosi Presto kiosk with bad coffee but half-decent hard boiled eggs and yogurt/fruit/granola parfaits.

The waiting area was both cramped and crowded, the gate service awkward, and the airline itself tries awfully hard to be something that I can’t quite figure out.  My window seat was occupied by a woman who conveniently speaks (or pretends to speak) no English so I moved to the aisle.  Her husband who also doesn’t speak English apparently also doesn’t understand manners as his elbow has been lodged in my upper arm for most of the flight, his forearm covering my entertainment controls.  And she’s been sneezing constantly, one after the other in rapid succession, for about the last three minutes.

In any case, I was able to get tuned in to the movie Notting Hill, which for over a decade since it first came out, I’ve been calling Nodding Off.  And the interesting thing is I kind of liked it this time.  Maybe because I finally have real love in my life I can appreciate the little nuances of knowing and needing someone in ways that you never really knew existed.

I was really sad leaving this morning.  I like my life, I like my people…I like my routine.  But I also do like the job that I’m traveling for, even though I’ve got more time on the road than would be my preference.  So I’m trying to reacclimate to the rigor of business travel, and the mistaken and idiotic notions of its glamour.  It’s a study in patience and adaptability and making each moment fun and happy because I’m in complete control of my circumstances.  Albeit in the context of circumstances outside of my control, the ones that have me spending my weekend (plus Monday and Tuesday, into Wednesday morning) traveling to, in, and from San Francisco.

It’s a city that I’ve not spent time in in probably a dozen years, maybe even 15, which feels strange given that is someplace I used to be very comfortable in, and at one point actually considered moving to.  So I’m considering those lifetimes ago, in the context of the life I have now, and reflecting, reflecting, reflecting.

And now I’m watching Sleepless in Seattle and am beyond grateful that I plunked down the $200+ on the Bose noise-cancelling headphones.  I’m not sure I can ever fly without them again.  In the crowd and chaos and movement of the flight, I’m feeling like I’m floating in an auditory and sensory oasis.  And I’m reminded of the things I don’t like about travel, like the smells and and people who pull on the seat in front of them to stand up, or touch every seat that they pass on the way to and from the bathroom.  Or why the guy next to me has played with his video screen the whole flight, even though hie. Has no headphones…and why is he watching my to, even though his is on….and even though he still isn’t wearing headphones.  I also am reminded of the things that make me giggle, like the person who gets on the plane and mouths there seat number, say, 27D, the whole way down the aisle, looking left and right, just in case the rows aren’t chronological and the number assignments are arbitrary.

In any case, I don’t need saving and if I did I don’t need this city to do it.  But the Train song has been in my head, and some of the lyrics resonate.  I had a decent day, don’t like being by myself, miss my girlfriend, and can’t quite reconcile how a place that seemed one at to you at one point in time now feels so different…I guess the life you live and your level of comfort changes everything.  Life changes.  I know that.  But I feel it differently here.  I’ve been known to talk about wishing I lived a different life.  But today I raise that I am living the right one.  It’s a perfect fit for me.  I think I’ll have a happy few days here, and I think I’ll be happier to be home.

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Relax Already.

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So…I’m on vacation…relaxing…reading 10% Happier and learning a thing or two about not being a dick.  I was told I didn’t need to read the book because I’m already happy.  But why not aim for happier?  Or more relaxed?  Or something better?  Why not aspire?

Great book.  Great vacation.  And today involved a message to work about whether something needed to wait until I’m back.  When I replied that the end goal mattered, and not my participation in every play I new I got it.

  

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, To Face the Just

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Big day in the USA on Friday, when SCOTUS validated the existence of a big segment of its population.  I actually don’t have a lot to say about the issue, other than if more people would support love, the world would be a happier and healthier place.

If you don’t believe in gay marriage, you’ll probably never be invited to a gay wedding, so no worries there.  If somehow gay marriage offends you, remember that your narrow-mindedness and bigotry is probably equally offensive to others.  If you’re God-fearing, revisit the Bible.  And if you’re fixated on the Constituion, well, who knows what the Founding Fathers did behind closed doors.

At the end of the day, none of us should begrudge anyone else love and happiness and inner peace.

Does Life Really Get in the Way?

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I’ve been so busy lately.  Between work and teaching the online class, not to mention trying to get my running mojo back, lose few pounds, and tend to the people and things that matter, well, I have been out straight.

And then I thought about how sometimes when we get busy we say “life gets in the way.”  We blame life as the the thing that prevents us from having fun.

And then I was like, “Whaaaa…?”  When we engage and live fully in every moment, that’s life.  Life doesn’t get in the way.  Life is the journey, it’s the vehicle that carries us through…once again it’s about choice.

I’m choosing to view life as an enabler not an obstacle.
Choose happy, and choose now.

Everything Old is New Again…

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…and I feel old!

You probably know that I’ve recently had to admit that I’m a PC and it was with reluctance and excitement that I did so.

Purchase of the Surface Pro 3 behind me, now I’m learning how to use it.  I’ve still got my iPad next to me, helping me figure how to do certain things.

And right now, I’m multi-tasking (multi-screening), and admittedly very bad habit I am looking forward to (hopefully) breaking when I go back to work Monday.

I’m figuring out my Surface, with an iPad assist… watching the 2-hour season finale of Empire… because when it’s over, I need to take some notes on what programs I record and then go to the local Comcast office to upgrade all my old boxes to Xfinity X1 boxes.  So then when I get home I can use both my Surface AND iPad (and probably even my iPhone) to figure out how to watch TV.

And I’m doing this wearing gym clothes… because I went to a class at the gym this morning and haven’t made it into the shower quite yet.  I joined a new gym last month and for the first time in my life I started taking classes named Sweat.  Body Blast. Pound.  In the process I learned that I am even more uncoordinated than I ever imagined.  So in those classes I’m trying to use mirrors and my neighbors and verbal cues to help me get it right.  But I’m still pretty backwards.

To summarize: a lot of unfamiliar stuff is around me.  I start a new job Monday.  Yet somehow I find myself exhilarated.  I wonder whether I’ve got my raging case of FOUL syndrome in the rearview.

Without my even being conscious of it, I’ve been plowing forward, trying new things, stretching myself… and look where I landed.  Who cares that I’m completely off rhythm in Body Blast?  Who cares if I have no idea how to use my laptop replacement or my TV?  Details.

Life changes, and it’s all good.  Because I’m letting it be.  Think about doing the same.  Just maybe you’ll put one of your maladies behind you.

Hope feels good.  Happy feels better.

P.S. Drew this pic on my Surface with a new program, Fresh Paint.  😉

The Controversy, The Conversation

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So, I recently got offered a job that I’ll be starting in a few weeks. For the last 16 months I’ve kind of been living a manic existence of personal and professional lows mixed with some personal and professional highs. An interesting mix of uncertainty and fear and hope and self-confidence that retreated at least double for every surge. Keeping myself optimistic became my full-time job in many ways. My consulting was fun, I loved the flexibility and ability to be present—both emotionally and physically—with people I cherish.

But the bottom line, as I was unable to make real inroads into a full-time job (despite the fact that I didn’t really want one and wasn’t trying my absolute hardest), I wasn’t attuned to how erosive it was to my psyche.

Long story short, when I stepped up my game and started trying my hardest, things began to change. Obvious lesson right there. There’s a tipping point somewhere in this emotional limbo. I’ve definitely got my professional mojo back, my professional confidence…my self-confidence is following on q bit of a lag, but it is indeed following. It’s reflected lately in the keen and aggressive interest I’ve taken in so back issues of The Atlantic. As a new subscriber last May, I was excited (awesome birthday gift!)…but tentative. I read the issues as they came, yet somehow not investing fully into my reading, as if somehow I wasn’t smart enough to read them. What? Not smart enough? But I am smart (although my mid-1980s SAT scores had me shy of automatic MENSA membership). But even so, I felt somehow intellectually unworthy and was unwilling to read the magazines with anything less than the attention they deserved, and as a result I’ve been ashamedly piling them up for maybe six months.

I just went away for a long weekend—I’m flying home as I type, in fact—and I just took a break from the third issue I’ve been engrossed in since I left home. I brought the magazines with me on the off chance that landing a job positively impacted my synapses. And what do you know? I’m reading with enthusiasm and interest. I’m looking things up, writing things down, adding books to buy to my Amazon wish list as well as my local library list. After this inadvertent but unavoidable intellectual hibernation, I can feel the rust coming off. I’m back. I’m considering what I read and am forming opinions. I’m assimilating what I read and processing it relative to the context of my life. I’m breaking down what I read as I attempt to understand new things in new ways. I actually feel my mind working, my horizons broadening, and good Jesus does it feel good.

Which is a lot of background, more than I typically provide to set up a blog post, but in my opinion I needed to give it, lest this post appear to come out of nowhere.

Anyway, I read an awesomely interesting and thought-provoking article on my flight out to MI last Thursday. It’s from the November 2014 issue, was written by Ezekiel J. Emanuel, and is titled “Why I Hope to Die at 75.” While I knew what I was reading was sure to be controversial to The Atlantic’s readership at large, it wasn’t controversial with me. Some topics, I don’t see them as absolutes. That’s not to say that I choose gray or am wishy-washy in any way, but rather I can see black and white, and sometimes the two look nice next to each other. They aren’t clashing colors, so why do we often treat black and white as opposites and not complements? I was interested to learn in the “bio” at the end of the article that the author is an oncologist, a fact which further influenced my interpretation of what I had just read.

I found myself referring to the article over the weekend, in conversation with my sister relative to the recent (seven months ago) and premature (in my opinion, one that I know is shared by many others) death of my father. And that was really all I thought about it over the weekend, as my time was consumed with my nieces and visiting and eating out and trying to track down a limited release beer I was dying to try, one that was available only in March and in Michigan. (I found it, blanched at the price ($14.99 for a bomber), remembered I would soon have income, bought two bottles, and proceeded to enjoy them immensely with my brother-in-law).

Then I sat down to breakfast at The National Coney Island in the Delta terminal at DTW this morning, picked the December issue out of my backpack, and saw an over-populated Conversation section, with wildly varying reader responses to the piece. I read these with at least as much interest as I had read the instigating article; I was both amazed and enthralled by how well the letters were written, respected the conviction and passion with which people expressed and defended their positions, and felt rewarded when I was able to read a rebuttal by the article’s author.

As I considered all the angles and opinions and scenarios, it boils down kind of simply for me: each of us is unique. We each possess a seemingly infinite combination of uniques traits and circumstances and experiences and opinions, all of which inform our unique viewpoint and goals and approaches and define our personal platform. We are all allowed to have our opinions and views. We should remain open to the opinions and views of others. We should reserve the right to change our minds. We should not judge those with whom we disagree. I love the lively dialog that comes from healthy opposition, manifested in an intellectual kind of competition. Opposing views don’t change anything for me, unless I allow myself to be enlightened by them.

But here I am now, still thinking about this particular issue, and I consider the circumstances of my life, my own experiences. My unsolicited advice is that different people want different things, and people we love might not want for themselves what we want for them. This highlights the importance of taking time to have The Conversation. The appropriate time to have it often masquerades as an inappropriate time. Beyond that, it’s uncomfortable, so people sometimes back away from it. But one regret in life you don’t want to have is not having The Conversation with people you love.

There are plenty of resources out there. A noteworthy website is The Conversation Project, and an equally noteworthy book is The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan For End-of-Life Care.

It may seem maudlin or awkward or whatever. But taking time to think about this, articulate and document your wishes, and encourage those you love to articulate and document theirs is a real gift of love you can give each other.

If this is the kind of dialogue that results from Dr. Emanuel’s piece, then his work is a resounding success, regardless of the hearty debate that happens along the way.

So go. Have The Conversation. Or at least think about it. Do something.  You’ll be glad you did.

5,000,000,001 Ways To A Whole New You?

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Here’s the thing.  Well, here’s a thing: I’m an awful sleeper.  I got the bad sleeping gene, and I have tried to manage around it.  Counting sheep forward.  Counting sheep backwards.  Just plain counting, in any direction.  Counting backwards by threes.  Starting at 3498.  Tylenol PM, Advil PM. ZzzQuil.  Melatonin.  Quitting caffeine.  Exercising at the right time.  Eating the right food at the right time.  No TV.  No electronic devices.  Meditation.

Bottom line, no matter what, in the aggregate, I get little decent sleep.

Here’s another thing: for Christmas, I got a fitness tracker.  The Microsoft Band.  It’s pretty awesome.  “Especially” at telling me how crappy I am at sleeping.  This month, I’ve slept 20 times.  I track the few naps I do take because I suspected (correctly) that I get my best sleep in these roughly one-hour periods.  Anyway, over that time period, I note a few things:

  • I really suck at sleeping.
  • I’m usually awake for one hour during the course of the night.
  • The one hour of awake time is spread over seven separate wake ups.
  • I average 6 hours and 51 minutes of sleep a night but have to work really hard to get it.
  • Of the 6:51 I’m asleep, only 2 hours and two minutes are restful (29%).

So the Band is great for tracking steps and workouts, and for other things like alerting me to text messages or incoming calls.  But what about this sleep nonsense?

I read a lot.  I’ve mentioned before that its important to me to kind of inundate myself with information and ideas to keep me motivated, to inspire me to think.  But I’ve also mentioned the importance of picking and choosing what resonates with you so that you’re able to respond to what you read and really give it legs.

That said, too much helpful information recalls to mind a line from an old Shel Silverstein poem, that “some kind of help is the kind of help we all can do without.”

Consider some of what I’ve been reading as I consider my sleep woes:

  • 6 Relaxing Yoga Poses to Fall Asleep
  • 8-Minute Guided Yoga Nidra Meditation to Help You Fall Asleep
  • 10 Tips for Great Sleep Tonight
  • How to Fall Asleep When Your Mind Won’t Shut Off

And as I ponder all of this helpful information, I start to worry that it will take me half the night to go through these activities and checklists…it loads me up with a thick layer of anxiety, and that’s before I even realized I haven’t even considered what behavior changes I might have to undertake leading up to bedtime.

Now, consider some more of my reading list:

  • 5 Things Happy People Do Before Getting Out of Bed in the Morning (Overachievers, those pesky happy people.)
  • A 4-Step Morning Routine to Guarantee a Great Day (Guaranteed? There’s a sucker born every minute.)
  • 11 Life-Changing Rituals for an Excellent Start of the Day (Doing 11 things in the morning better give me more than an excellent start; the piece above lead (tricked?) me to think four things would give me a whole day of great!)
  • 5 Things Healthy People Do Before Starting Their Day (So I guess if I want to be healthy and happy I have to do 10 things?  Or 21 things if I want to ensure I get off to a good start?)
  • 7 Things Healthy People Do Every Morning (Wait.  Seven things?  I thought it was only five.  So am I up to 23 things I need to do before I get out of bed or is it 28?  And how can I possibly do all these things before I get up?  I’ll have to set my alarm for the middle of the night.  Oh my god.  I probably won’t have even fallen asleep by then.)

But what about the rest of myth motivational reading, reminding me how to stay present, be successful, eat right, stay fit, lose weight, manage life as an introvert, avoid regret, what friends to keep, how to pray, what to wear… and all in fewer than 10 steps or less than five minutes a day?

Or maybe I just need to focus on “How to Get The Benefits of Meditation Without Actually Meditating.”  But after doing my morning checklist and my bedtime routine and taking care of myself in the middle, how can I find the time not to meditate?

Bottom line, take bits and pieces to motivate yourself, and keep moving.  Don’t get bogged down by what other people tell you or what you think you should do.  If everything great could be done in only a few steps or a few minutes, the world would be very different.  But would it be better?  I’m not so sure.  Do what feels good and right for you.  Do what makes you happy.  Do what helps you sleep well at night.

I’m done for now.  I’m going to the gym.  I’m not sure it will give me a six-pack of steel abs or help me sleep or get me better friends or a better job.  But I’ll feel good and I’ll feel happy and maybe I’ll sleep better tonight.  And what does it matter what anyone else does?  It doesn’t.  So go.  Do.  Start.  Happy.