Tag Archives: Change

Change: Affinity vs. Ability

Life is so much nicer all around when we like what is happening; what we are doing, where we are living and so on.  Sometimes we forget that there is a difference between liking, affinity, and skill at a task, or ability.  We all have skills that we could use to our advantage but often don’t because we just don’t have the affinity.


I’ve met plenty of people who, without saying it straight up, think that they will know they are on the right track because everything will snap into place – life will be easier and smoother if they are in the right place.  If things are difficult, it must be the wrong direction or place or whatever.  How many times have you been in a discussion with someone who shuts you down on a topic with something like, ‘oh, I’m not any good at (fill in the blank)’?


The world is ever changing.  (public domain image)

The world is ever changing. (public domain image)

Math doesn’t have any sort of magic for me like words do, I just don’t have much of an affinity.  But I have come to understand the importance of having a math competency – in financial dealings at the very least.  I will never gravitate to math, but I can be proud that I can master the more important math concepts and make use of them in my life.  And I have discovered that there are fascinating parts of math – statistics and economics do stir my curiosity.


We don’t get to arrange all of the pieces of our lives so that we can focus only on those things that we like.  (We’re lucky to arrange most of them, the big ones hopefully.)  And it isn’t always clear to see when you are on the right track, because that track might be just as bumpy and difficult as the wrong one.


Writing is a skill that makes plenty of people grimace, I both understand and feel consternated about this fact.  But like math for me, it is an ability that can be developed to serve your overall purpose.  You can like what a competency in a certain skill brings you without having an affinity for the concepts of the skill.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved


I Hear Birds

Meteorological spring and the Vernal Equinox (astronomical spring) have both passed – not that you can tell based on how often my furnace still cycles on a day.  Or by the layers that we are still wearing.  Or by the dusting of snow that greeted the folks in my region earlier this week.  These dates are just markers on a calendar.


I smile every morning for the last several because I can hear the birds chittering, twittering, and singing to each other just outside my window each morning.  They must be quite chilled, but they believe that spring weather is close so I will too.


Eastern Yellow Robin (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eastern Yellow Robin (photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t actually seen the little feathered fellows, but my ears believe.  I have seen the geese – particularly as they stake out their nesting area around the building where I work.  A few people – 2 co-workers and later a customer – were chased by the hissing goose parents to be.  Winter might still be loath to give up it’s hold but all of these birds are determined that spring weather is near.


One good thing about the continued chill is that I have finally managed to cut back an out of control clematis.  On the one warm day that we’ve experienced recently.  And after 3 years of good intentions.  Now that I’ve had a chance to weave the branches through the trellis better, I have my fingers crossed that it will continue to grow as heartily as it has these past years.  And once again be a refuge for the birds that have sung good morning to me.


I hope that the birds are singing about spring wherever you are as well.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Plaintive Pull

The nature of blogging lends itself to posting in early morning.  Morning is a time for building energy, gathering thoughts to plan a successful day and not necessarily a time to bring up a plaintive, lamenting note.  But seasonal transitions seem to lend themselves to a plaintive and wistful mindset, at least to me.


I had a cat once who would stride through the house, usually in the evening and let out a sorrowful loud plaintive cry from a room or two away.  Perhaps he wanted me to do what I often did, which was to come and find him and ask him to tell me about whatever seemed to be on his mind.  And give him a nice scratch behind his ears.  Maybe he just liked the way that his meow would bounce off the walls and ceilings when he got a good lungful of air behind it.  (He did occasionally seem to have a theatrical bent.)


Evening seems to be the right time for plaintive reflection – not as heavy as a lugubrious or dolorous ponder but a few moments to think.  The right sort of evening reflection can lead to a better day in the morning.


Plaintive thought isn’t meant to be about all of the things that I meant to do in that day and didn’t get around to completing – too many people spend too much energy at the end of the day in this mode.  How about what I learned, what I can build on in coming days, what needs to be reworked…


As thoughts for this post started to form in my head, I realized that plaintiveness is often best expressed in music.  And songs by The Fixx and Counting Crows among others went through my head.  But I really sat down to write when the evening light brought Taps to mind.

photo credit: Wikipedia

photo credit: Wikipedia


The mournful sound of a single bugle in the soft summer evening air brings me back to my childhood when my dad was Camp Director.  This day is over, time to rest.  Nature and humans have done what could be done in this day.


All is well.


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Catching Up, Keeping Up, Staying Ahead of Things

A New Year starts a fresh calendar, but the slate isn’t wiped entirely clean.  There is much that gets carried over, all of the open tasks on your lists – wherever you keep them.  And snow.  We are having a much snowier winter than last year here in the Midwest and perhaps even snowier than average.


Whatever you thought you might do on a given day, show removal gets added in – almost every day of this New Year.  This also means adding in longer travel times, altered routes, changes in plans.  Instead of ticking something off of the endless lists, snow might mean moving it back days or weeks so that it lurks undone instead of smartly checked off.  Harder to catch up, keep up or stay ahead.


In our house this year, it is my son who is taking point on snow removal here and for an older neighbor.  He is both happy to help her out and weary that it has been so frequent.  Snow and cold make me want to hibernate.  I am happy to live in modern times with central heating, wicking fabrics, and the internet.


But home isn’t entirely solace and a cozy den from the cold.  I have once again neglected to pour treatments down the drain regularly so that the main drain that is meant to efficiently and silently whisk used water from our house is calling attention to itself.  I haven’t ever had this problem with any previous house so I can’t help but wonder if there is a design flaw in this particular drain layout – an awkward spot that narrows too quickly or bends too sharply and allows for difficulties if not given regular attention.


A few years ago, at great expense, I discovered that collusion between the long ago builder and some housing inspector allowed for the brilliant installation of heavy coated cardboard – called Orangeburg pipe, I believe – as the piping which connected all the houses in my neighborhood to the city sewer.  Not surprisingly, this pipe fails to stand the test of time.  The pipe for my house had lasted amazingly well, the house being in its 40th decade.  Lucky me, I was the lottery winner with a prize to pay out and new pipe to dig and lay out.  With the bonus of a messed up front lawn for a year as things settled and grass reestablished itself.


Sometimes I feel like a maintenance person with a push broom.  Push this personal thing along, push that household thing along, push this professional thing along.  Go back to the beginning and start again.  Replace the broom with a shovel and push that snow out of the way.


As thankful as I am for modern conveniences, is it an illusion that life was simpler and therefore easier to keep up with things in past generations?


© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Random Things for which I am Thankful: Opportunities

A person once told me that ‘You have to try new things’.  Now we’ll set aside the irony that at the time of the telling, despite my lower age, I had already tried many more things than this person and we’ll focus on the intent of the statement itself.  She was right.


There are so many quotes from well-known people past and present about opportunity, carpe diem (seize the day), that I could fill the rest of this post with worthy quotes and have done.  Plus there are whole books on this topic, but my take is why I am thankful for opportunity.


I would, and did, tell people right on up through my 30s that I was risk averse.  I wanted a quiet, pleasant, family-centric life filled with familiar things and regular rituals like gathering for Thanksgiving.  My life had taken me to different cities, in 6 states, which stretched my shyness sorely.  I learned to advocate for myself and my family because we were far from the support of extended family.  I had seen all the bumps and hassles with moving companies and utilities and the like as pure frustration, but looking back these were opportunities to learn to be polite but firm, to probe for mutual solution, to be my own best advocate.


Moving regularly means leaving behind family and friends, again and again.  It means being the new person wishing for a friendly face.  It means learning how to turn a stranger into a friendly face by taking small steps; by not fearing a roomful of people.  Moving taught me the baby steps to networking long before the word’s definition included this facet of making new contacts and turning those contacts into relationships of varying degrees.  Back then a network was CBS, NBC or ABC.

moving out-8-28-99

Moving means getting acquainted with the fear of the unknown.  Whether the move is a happy thing, or a necessity it is a change in routine, a new set of places to learn; familiar possessions in new positions and unfamiliar rooms.  It shakes things up and rearranges.  Complacency is broken, sometimes providing fertile ground for new ideas to grow.  ‘I can’t do that’ can be seen from a new angle to realize, ‘Well, I know most of what I need to do that’.  Moving gets a person to develop what resilience they have naturally, which is really handy when life offers other bumps in your road.


I haven’t talked about opportunity in the familiar manner – get a job offer that you can’t refuse sort of thing.  Because opportunity is often much more subtle than that and therefore far more frequent.  We aren’t likely to get amazing job offers out of the blue very often, but opportunities probably present themselves almost daily if we pay attention.


© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Cold is Coming

The sun has melted today’s light layer of frost from the still green grass and shrubs.  I read a brief article in the paper a couple of days ago that our autumn is protracted this year because it started out and stayed mild for so long.  I read a different article early last month that predicted a cold and snowy winter (of course I believe that was the prediction for my area last year too, which was far from the truth).  Cold is coming.

Frost on dying peony leaves.

Frost on dying peony leaves.


I’ve lived in places that experience all four seasons for most of my life and I do like three of them – it is a toss-up whether spring or fall is my most favored.  But I haven’t ever been a fan of winter with its limited color palette; difficulty in getting around in snow, ice and slush; few hours of daylight; and nippy temperatures. 


I can only think back on a handful of times in my life that I enjoyed winter – a few blissful afternoons sledding with friends, learning to ice skate, and the stark beauty and silence of a frigid winter night with the crunching crust of snow underfoot as almost the only sound.  Certainly joyful things have occurred in winter months, but these were not dependent upon the winter weather as part of their charm.


We humans like to make adjustments to our general environment to suit our own needs, so in my imaginings I have wiped away winter.  But the wild green growing things that are now settling into dormant slumber need this respite to thrive.  And I can’t deny them this necessity since they offer me so much the other 3 seasons of the year.


I am therefore, deeply grateful that I live in this age of central heating with programmable thermostats – allowing for a comfortable room temperature when it is time for me to get up in the morning.  I wince at the discomfort for our ancestors who had to gather their fortitude just to get up and start a fire to be warm. 


I appreciate that we have holidays during these cold months which will add splashes of color to the whites, browns and tans nature offers – red and green for Christmas, more red for Valentine’s Day.  Colors are important for visual interest and stimulation.  Not to mention how they can affect mood.


Every year at this time I watch the birds fly south (I walked past a tree full of songbirds the other day, probably the last for a few months) and wonder how I might do the same.  I read about the animals who hibernate, and have been dodging all the squirrels frantically preparing for their long sleep, and wonder if that might be my solution.  Knowing that neither option is viable for me, but wishing all the same.


Perhaps you will help me to pass the time, and make it worthwhile, through this cold and dormant season?


© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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